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Prevard v. Fauver

May 11, 1999

MARK PREVARD, ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
V.
WILLIAM H. FAUVER, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William H. Walls, U.S.D.J.

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the motion of defendants William H. Fauver, et al. for a judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). For the reasons below, the motion is granted.

Factual Background

Before September 1, 1979, in the state courts of New Jersey, the plaintiffs had been convicted of sexual crimes, such as sodomy or incest, under N.J.S.A. 2A:143-1, et seq., N.J.S.A. 2A:143-2 or N.J.S.A. 2A:114-2. The conduct of each of the plaintiffs was determined in pre- sentence evaluations to be characterized by repetitive and compulsive behavior. The statutes under which the plaintiffs were convicted were later repealed by the Code of Criminal Justice (the "Code"). All of the sex offenses committed by the above plaintiffs are now contained in various provisions of the Criminal Code in either N.J.S.A. 2C:14-1 et seq. or N.J.S.A. 2C:24-1. et seq., which became effective on September 1, 1979.

Under both the former penal statute, N.J.S.A. 2A, and later the Code, N.J.S.A. 2C, any person convicted of sex offenses whose conduct was determined to be characterized by a pattern of repetitive and compulsive behavior is sentenced to a program of specialized treatment. Compare N.J.S.A. 2A:164-3 and N.J.S.A. 2C:47-3. However, all persons, such as the present plaintiffs, sentenced as repetitive and compulsive sex offenders pursuant to the former 2A:164-3 received indeterminate terms of confinement in an Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center ("ADTC") and are not permitted to have their sentences reduced by custodial reduction credits. Offenders sentenced under the present 2C:47-3 receive determinate sentences and are allowed to earn custodial reduction credits.

The plaintiffs argue that inmates sentenced under N.J.S.A. 2A:143 ("Title 2A inmates") should be entitled to work or commutation credits similar to those given to inmates sentenced pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:47-1 ("Title 2C inmates"). They claim that denial of this benefit violates the Fifth, Eighth, Fourteenth Amendments and the Ex Post Facto clause of the United States Constitution, as well as the New Jersey Constitution and the Sex Offender and Parole Acts (N.J.S.A. 2A:164-3, et. seq. and N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.45). The defendants now move for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c).

This is a companion case to one filed by Title 2C inmates in Groves v. Fauver, Civil Action No. 91-796 (Honorable William G. Bassler), which raised the same issues except for that about work or commutation credits and was settled after motion practice. In Groves all of the claims were dismissed by the settlement agreement except the claim that Title 2A inmates are entitled to work or commutation credits similar to those afforded to Title 2C inmates. Two of the plaintiffs in the present case, Manigold and Williams, are presently confined in the ADTC while the remaining two, Prevard and Gunn, have been released on parole after the initiation of this suit. Plaintiff Gunn has withdrawn from this lawsuit.

Legal Standard

The Court reviews a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) under the same standard as a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). See Constitution Bank v. DiMarco, 815 F. Supp. 154, 157 (E.D.Pa. 1993). On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court is required to accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and to view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F. 3d 1380, 1384 (3d Cir. 1994). Under Rule 12(c), judgment will only be granted if it is clearly established that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Jablonski v. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 290-91 (3d Cir. 1988). The question is whether the plaintiff can prove any set of facts consistent with his allegations that will entitle him to relief, not whether he will ultimately prevail. See Hishon v. King and Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984).

While a court will accept well-pleaded allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, it will not accept legal or unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. See Miree v. Dekalb County, Ga., 433 U.S. 25, 27 (1977); Washington Legal Found. v. Massachusetts Bar Found., 993 F.2d 962, 971 (1st Cir. 1993). Moreover, the claimant must set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claims or permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).

Analysis

The plaintiffs have submitted a brief in opposition to "the defendant's motion for summary judgment" and responded to the defendant's motion as if it were a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. However, the defendant has moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c); the Court will treat these opposing actions as 12(b)(6) motions.

The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that "no state shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The Equal Protection clause mandates that all persons similarly situated be treated the same. See City of Cleburne, Texas v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. 432, 87 L.Ed. 2d 313, 105 S.Ct. 3249 (1985). However, the constitutional principles of equal protection do not require that all persons be treated identically. See Trantino v. Dept. of Corrections, 168 N.J. Super. 220, 226 (App.Div. 1979). They require only that any differences in treatment be justified by an appropriate state interest, and the State need only show a rational basis for a classification where the classification is not ...


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