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Gary Phillip Evans v. York County Adult Probation and Parole Department

December 10, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Conner)


Presently before the court are: (1) a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 12), filed by defendants York County Adult Probation and Parole Department (the "Department") and Donald R. Lauer, Jr. ("Lauer"), (2) a motion for partial summary judgment (Doc. 20), filed by plaintiff Gary Phillip Evans ("Evans"), and (3) the magistrate judge's report (Doc. 36) recommending that defendants' motion (Doc. 12) be granted and that Evans's motion be denied. Evans has filed objections to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation ("R&R"), and the parties have fully briefed the issues raised by Evans's objections, (see Docs. 37-40). For the reasons set forth below, the court will adopt the R&R in part and reject it in part.

I. Factual Background & Procedural History*fn1

On February 28, 2007, after being convicted in state court of two counts of Indecent Assault and Corruption of Minors and Unlawful Contact with Minors, Evans was sentenced to 111/2 - 23 months in York County Prison and five years probation. He came under supervision of the Department and defendant Lauer, his probation officer, when he was paroled on December 13, 2007. Evans filed a post-conviction petition, which the state court granted on March 9, 2009. The state court reinstated Evans's right to appeal his conviction nunc pro tunc. Four days thereafter, the Honorable Penny Blackwell released Evans on bail pending his appeal.

In the instant case, Evans complains that Lauer and the Department unlawfully infringed his constitutional rights by maintaining certain restraints on his freedom after he was released on bail and no longer on parole or probation.*fn2 There is no dispute that Lauer continued to supervise Evans and continued to enforce the conditions of Evans's probation between March 13, 2009, the date of his release pending appeal, and April 7, 2009.*fn3 Indeed, at least some period of post-release supervision comports with a department policy, which provides that individuals under supervision who are granted a right to appeal nunc pro tunc must remain under supervision until the Department receives notice that the appeal has actually been filed. Evans filed suit on May 28, 2009, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,*fn4 and alleging violations of his rights under the First, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 1).

The magistrate judge recommended granting summary judgment in favor of the Department, on the basis that the Eleventh Amendment bars actions against state entities, including the Department. (Doc. 36 at 30-32). He also recommended that summary judgment be granted in Lauer's favor on the basis of qualified immunity. (Id. at 33-35). In accordance with these recommendations, the magistrate judge concluded that no discussion of Evans's substantive claims was necessary, and he recommended dismissal of Evans's motion for partial summary judgment. Evans filed objections to the magistrate judge's conclusion that Lauer is entitled to qualified immunity, and he maintains that the court should enter partial summary judgment in his favor against Lauer. The parties have fully briefed the issues, and the matter is now ripe for review.

II. Standard of Review

A. Standard of Review for a Motion for Summary Judgment

Through summary adjudication the court may dispose of those claims that do not present a "genuine issue as to any material fact," and for which a jury trial would be an empty and unnecessary formality. See FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A motion for summary judgment places the burden on the non-moving party to come forth with "affirmative evidence, beyond the allegations of the pleadings," in support of its right to relief. Pappas v. City of Lebanon, 331 F. Supp. 2d 311, 315 (M.D. Pa. 2004); FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). This evidence must be adequate, as a matter of law, to sustain a judgment in favor of the non-moving party on the claims. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-57 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-89 (1986); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c), (e). Only if this threshold is met may the cause of action proceed. Pappas, 331 F. Supp. 2d at 315.

In the instant matter, each party has filed a motion for summary judgment.*fn5 (See Docs. 12, 20). According to the Third Circuit:

Cross-motions are no more than a claim by each side that it alone is entitled to summary judgment, and the making of such inherently contradictory claims does not constitute an agreement that if one is rejected the other is necessarily justified or that the losing party waives judicial consideration and determination whether genuine issues of material fact exist.

Lawrence v. City of Phila., 527 F.3d 299, 310 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Rains v. Cascade Indus., Inc., 402 F.2d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 1968)). Each movant must show that no genuine issue of material fact exists; if both parties fail to carry their respective burdens, the court must deny the motions. See Facenda v. N.F.L. Films, Inc., 542 F.3d 1007, 1023 (3d Cir. 2008). When reviewing each motion, the court is bound to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant. FED. R. CIV. P. 56; United States v. Hall, 730 F. Supp. 646, 648 (M.D. Pa. 1980).

B. Standard of Review for a Magistrate Judge's Recommendation

Where objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation are filed, the court must perform a de novo review of the contested portions of the report. Supinski v. United Parcel Serv., Civ. A. No. 06-0793, 2009 WL 113796, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 16, 2009) (citing Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n. 3 (3d Cir. 1989); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c)).

"In this regard, Local Rule of Court 72.3 requires 'written objections which . . . specifically identify the portions of the proposed findings, recommendations or report to which objection is made and the basis for those objections.'" Id. (citing Shields v. Astrue, ...

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