United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
CHALMERS A. SIMPSON, JR., Plaintiff,
PA. BOARD PROBATION / PAROLE, et al., Defendants.
F. SAPORITO, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
20, 2019, the plaintiff, Chalmers A. Simpson, Jr., filed a
pro se motion to compel discovery, pursuant to Rule
37(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 37.) He
seeks an order compelling the defendants to produce any audio
recordings or transcripts of several hearings-some of them
abbreviated due to continuances-held in the course of state
parole revocation proceedings against him in December 2015
and January 2016.
about January 31, 2019, Simpson served the defendants with
written interrogatories and requests for production, pursuant
to Rules 31 and 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
In Simpson's Document Request No. 12, he requested:
“Copies of all records, testimony, transcripts,
letters, documents, recordings of any and all hearings . . .
which includes panel, violation, detention, preliminary,
and probable cause hearings which was held (sic) . .
. .” (Doc. 37, at 11-12.) In response to this document
request, the defendants have produced to Simpson a
stenographic transcript of a preliminary detention hearing
held before a parole hearing examiner on January 29, 2016.
(Doc. 45-1.) The defendants have advised Simpson that no
other transcripts or recordings exist, and they have
submitted into the record an unsworn declaration by Morgan
Davis, an attorney with the state parole board, attesting to
the same. (Doc. 45-2.) From the parties' submissions, it
does not appear that the defendants have produced a copy of
the audio recording itself.
now moves to compel the defendants to produce audio
recordings and any transcripts of hearings conducted on:
December 24, 2015; January 8, 2016; and January 25, 2016. He
also seeks production of the audio recording from which a
stenographer derived the transcript of the January 29, 2016,
hearing already produced by the defendants.
the federal rules,
[u]nless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of
discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery
regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any
party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of
the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake
in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties'
relative access to relevant information, the parties'
resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the
issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within
this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).
claims that he was deprived of his Fourteenth Amendment right
to due process because the defendants failed to hold a
preliminary hearing on his parole violation charges within
fourteen days after his arrest and incarceration, and because
he was denied his due process right to be represented by
counsel in these same proceedings. The proper scope of
discovery with respect to these claims is further cabined by
the factual context upon which these claims
December 12, 2015, Simpson was arrested in Swatara Township,
Pennsylvania, and charged with felony retail
theft. Because he was on parole release for a
prior felony conviction,  after his preliminary arraignment
before a state magisterial district judge that same day,
Simpson was transferred to the custody of the Pennsylvania
Department of Corrections pursuant to a parole violator
December 22, 2015, while incarcerated at a state correctional
institution, Simpson was provided with a written notice of
charges and hearing. The notice informed Simpson that he had
charged with a parole violation due to the new criminal
charges against him for retail theft, and with an unrelated
pair of technical parole violations arising out of his
alleged failure to maintain regular contact with parole
agents on November 5 and 6, 2015. The notice informed Simpson
that a preliminary and detention hearing before a hearing
examiner had been scheduled for December 24, 2015.
December 24, 2015-twelve days after Simpson's initial
detention-Simpson appeared before a hearing examiner for his
preliminary and detention hearing, but no attorney was
available to represent him because the county public
defender's office was apparently closed that day. Simpson
declined to waive his right to be represented by an attorney,
and he subsequently refused to sign a written request for
continuance form. The hearing examiner continued the
preliminary and detention hearing until January 8, 2016, to
permit Simpson to secure counsel and due to the
unavailability of witnesses Simpson wished to call in his
defense. In addition to the hearing officer, Simpson's
parole agent, defendant Amy Burrell, signed the continuance
request form as a witness, below a note that Simpson had
refused to sign the form.
January 8, 2016-twenty-seven days after Simpson's initial
detention-Simpson again appeared before a hearing examiner
for his preliminary and detention hearing. This time, an
attorney from the county public defender's office, Joshua
Yohe, Esq., was available and offered to represent Simpson.
But Simpson desired to be represented by privately retained
counsel. As a result of this, as well as the
unavailability of witnesses Simpson wished to call in his
defense, the hearing was once again continued until January
25, 2016. This time, Simpson alleges that he was
“threatened” and “forced” by the
hearing examiner to sign the continuance request
form. At the preliminary and detention
hearing, which was ultimately held on January 29, 2016, the
hearing examiner stated that he also advised Simpson on
January 8, 2016, that no further continuances for Simpson to
secure attorney representation would be permitted, as he had
been provided ample time to do so, and because a public
defender had already been offered to represent him.
January 25, 2016, Simpson's hearing was again continued,
this time on the parole board's motion due to a weather
closing-neither the hearing examiner nor ...