that a prisoner will receive the funds in his prison account. Thus, she asserts, Artway can not have a protected property interest in those funds.
The Court finds this argument to be without merit. The statutes cited by the defendant explicitly contemplate that monies remaining in a prisoner's account will upon the completion of his term, be paid to the prisoner. N.J. Stat. Ann. 30:4-91.4(f) ("The balance, if any, shall be paid to the prisoner at the completion of the period of his confinement.") (emphasis added). Although this statute authorizes prison administrators to withdraw certain monies from a prisoner's account for certain designated purposes,
it does not grant administrators discretion to withdraw these monies for purposes not contemplated by the statute. Rather, it creates an expectation that those monies not withdrawn for legitimate, designated purposes will be returned to the inmate. Id.
The Court, therefore, will deny defendants' motion for summary judgment regarding Artway's claim that he has been denied his constitutional right to due process.
Summary Judgment for the Plaintiff
As noted above, the Court views Artway's claim as asserting that once a person has been properly determined liable for certain unliquidated damages, he is entitled to due process regarding the determination of the amount of those damages. Although Artway was properly adjudicated guilty of a prison disciplinary charge, and appropriately ordered to make restitution for the damage he caused, he was offered no opportunity to be heard regarding the amount of damage deducted from his prison account. The determination of the amount of restitution to be charged involves the determination of facts, and in this case, disputed facts.
Since, as noted supra, the Court finds that Artway has a property interest in the funds in his prison account, he has been denied this property without due process of law. As the facts giving rise to this claim are not disputed by the parties, and the Court is persuaded that Artway's claim has merit, the Court will grant Artway summary judgment on this claim, sua sponte.6
As described above, the procedures adopted by the defendant for determining the amount of restitution owed by a prisoner who has been so penalized do not contemplate a hearing or trial, either before or after the restitution amount is charged a prisoner and withdrawn from his prison account. The Court finds these procedures, as expressed in Department of Corrections Standard # 944 and ADTC Administrative Directive 46R1, to be constitutionally defective.
The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that "a deprivation of life, liberty or property 'be preceded by notice and opportunity for hearing appropriate to the nature of the case.'" Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532, 542, 84 L. Ed. 2d 494, 105 S. Ct. 1487 (1984) (quoting Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 313, 94 L. Ed. 865, 70 S. Ct. 652 (1950)). The Supreme Court describes "'the root requirement' of the Due Process Clause as being 'that an individual be given an opportunity for a hearing before he is deprived of any significant property.'" Id. at 542 (quoting Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371, 379, 28 L. Ed. 2d 113, 91 S. Ct. 780 (1971) (emphasis in original). The process due in a particular situation is determined according to a balancing of competing interests test. Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 335, 47 L. Ed. 2d 18, 96 S. Ct. 893 (1976); Loudermill, supra, at 542-43. The considerations to be balanced include the private interest at stake; the risk of an erroneous deprivation through the procedures used; the value, if any, of additional procedural safeguards; and the Government's interest, including the cost and burden of additional safeguards. Mathews, supra, at 325. Finally, the Third Circuit has noted that a hearing can be postponed until after a deprivation only if a "case falls within extremely narrow lines reserved for . . . limited situations . . . ." Stana v. School Dist. of City of Pittsburgh, 775 F.2d 122, 127 (3rd Cir. 1985).
Applying the law to the facts in this case, it is clear that Artway has not been afforded constitutionally adequate due process. Indeed, he has been afforded no due process. The regulations governing the imposition of the restitution penalty do not contemplate that a prisoner be afforded any opportunity to contest the amount of restitution he is charged, let alone a pre-deprivation opportunity to be heard.
This Court therefore finds that Artway is entitled to summary judgment in his favor on his claim that the defendant has violated his right to due process under the United States Constitution. While the Court finds that the defendant is liable on this claim, it leaves damages to be determined at trial.
The Court will enter an Order consistent with this opinion.
This matter comes before the court on defendant's motion for summary judgment. The Court, having considered the papers filed in support of the motion, and for the reasons set forth in the opinion dated 27 October, 1987,
ORDERS on this 27th day of October, 1987 that the defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted as to plaintiff's claims that he has been denied his rights under the United States Constitution to equal protection, a jury trial, and access to the courts. The defendant's motion is also granted as to plaintiff's claim that he has been denied his right, under the New Jersey Constitution, to a jury trial. The defendant's motion is denied as to the plaintiff's claim that he has been denied due process under the United States Constitution.
The Court, for the reasons stated in its opinion, also ORDERS that summary judgment on the issue of liability be entered against the defendant on plaintiff's claim that he has been denied due process under the United States Constitution.
ROBERT E. COWEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.