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Darryl V. Conquest v. George Hayman

March 31, 2011

DARRYL V. CONQUEST, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GEORGE HAYMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
WILLIAM STOVALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GEORGE HAYMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
MAJOR G. TILLERY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GEORGE HAYMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cooper, District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Defendants herein move for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. (Docket entry no. 120; see also docket entry no 146, Reply Br.) Plaintiffs have filed briefs, declarations and exhibits in opposition thereto. (See Docket entry nos. 135, 140 & 142.)*fn1 This matter is being considered on the papers pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted, and judgment will be entered in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiffs on all of the claims asserted herein.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

1. Darryl V. Conquest

On or about May 7, 2007, plaintiff Darryl V. Conquest filed a pro se Complaint seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as to his continued placement in the Management Control Unit ("MCU") for more than twelve years at that time. Conquest v. Hayman, et al., No. 07-2125 (MLC) (Docket entry no. 1).*fn2 Conquest named the

following defendants: George Hayman, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC"); Michelle R. Ricci, Administrator of the New Jersey State Prison ("NJSP"); Donald Mee, Assistant Administrator at NJSP and Chairman of the MCU Review Committee ("MCURC"); Alfred Kandell, Assistant Superintendent at NJSP and voting member of the MCURC; Captain Ortiz, NJSP custody representative and voting member of the MCURC; Dr. Dena Farber, psychologist at NJSP and voting member of the MCURC; and Lt. Jones, NJSP custody representative and voting member of the MCURC.

Conquest alleged that Defendants conspired to continue his placement in the NJSP MCU by engaging in only a pretense of providing him with annual review hearings in 2007, thereby subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and violating his rights to equal protection and due process as guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment. Conquest further alleged that the MCURC's April 3, 2007 annual review hearing decision did not comport with the requirements set forth in N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.11.

On October 17, 2007, this Court entered an Opinion and Order dismissing Conquest's Eighth Amendment claim and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim. However, Conquest's Fourteenth Amendment due process claim was allowed to proceed. (Docket entry nos. 7 and 8.)

On November 27, 2007, Hayman, Jones, Kandell, Mee, Ortiz and Ricci moved to dismiss Conquest's claims for lack of jurisdiction. This Court denied the motion on April 18, 2008. (Docket entry nos. 16, 25 and 26.) On April 9, 2008, Farber moved to dismiss Conquest's claims for lack of jurisdiction, which also was denied on April 18, 2008. (Docket entry nos. 23, 25 and 26.) The Court then vacated the April 18, 2008 Order on June 30, 2008, and entered an Amended Opinion and Order denying defendants' separate motions to dismiss. (Docket entry nos. 33, 34 and 35.)

Defendants filed an Answer to the Complaint on April 28, 2008. (Docket entry no. 27.) On June 27, 2008, Conquest filed a Supplemental Complaint without leave of Court. (Docket entry no. 36.) Thereafter, on August 13, 2008, Conquest sought leave from the Court to file his Supplemental Complaint. (Docket entry no. 43.) Leave was granted by Order entered on September 4, 2008 (Docket entry no. 48), and Conquest filed a Second Supplemental Complaint on September 16, 2008. (Docket entry no. 49.) Defendants filed an Answer on September 29, 2008. (Docket entry no. 50.)

On February 3, 2009, defendants requested that this action be consolidated with two other related actions, Stovall v. Hayman, et al., No. 07-3062 (MLC), and Tillery v. Hayman, et al., No. 07-2662 (MLC), for purposes of taking the defendants' depositions. Consolidation was ordered on February 18, 2009. On July 14, 2009, the Court administratively terminated, sua sponte, Stovall v. Hayman, et al., No. 07-3062 (MLC) and Tillery v. Hayman, et al., No. 07-2662 (MLC), and consolidated those two cases with Conquest's action. Discovery has since concluded in this matter. Conquest filed his Pretrial Memorandum on or about July 20, 2010. (Docket entry no. 122.)

Defendants now move for summary judgment. (Docket entry no. 120.) Conquest filed opposition to Defendants' motion. (Docket entry no. 135.) Defendants then filed a reply brief in support of their motion. (Docket entry no. 146.)

2. William Stovall

On or about July 3, 2007, plaintiff William Stovall filed a pro se Complaint seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as to his continued placement in the MCU. Stovall v. Hayman, et al., No. 07-3062 (MLC) (Docket entry no. 1). Stovall named the following defendants: Hayman; Ricci; Mee; Kandell; Dr. DeFilippo, psychologist at NJSP and voting member of the MCURC; Sgt. S. Wilson, NJSP custody representative and voting member of the MCURC; and Jones. (Id.)

Stovall alleged that Defendants conspired to continue his placement in the NJSP MCU by engaging in only a pretense of providing him with annual review hearings in 2007, thereby subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and violating his rights to equal protection and due process as guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment. Stovall further alleged that the MCURC's March 13, 2007 annual review hearing decision did not comport with the requirements set forth in N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.11. (Id.) On August 22, 2007, this Court entered an Order allowing the claims to proceed. (Docket entry no. 2.)

On November 27, 2007, Defendants moved to dismiss Stovall's claims for lack of jurisdiction. This Court denied the motion on May 15, 2008. (Docket entry nos. 15, 30 and 31.)

On May 22, 2008, defendants Hayman, Ricci, Mee, Kandell and Jones filed an Answer. (Docket entry no. 32.) On June 13, 2008, defendants DeFilippo and Wilson filed an Answer. (Docket entry no. 37.) Thereafter, on May 21, 2009, Stovall moved to include missing pages 5 and 6 to his Complaint, which was granted on June 10, 2009. (Docket entry nos. 71 and 79.) On June 16, 2009, defendants filed an Amended Answer. (Docket entry no. 85.)

As noted supra, Stovall's action eventually was consolidated with two other actions. Discovery has since concluded in this matter. Stovall filed his Pretrial Memorandum on or about July 21, 2010. (Docket entry no. 121.)

Defendants now move for summary judgment. (Docket entry no. 120.) Stovall opposed in the form of a motion to dismiss defendants' motion, with attachments. (Docket entry nos. 140 & 142.) Defendants filed a reply brief in support of their motion for summary judgment. (Docket entry no. 146.) Stovall thereafter filed a Statement of Material Facts in Dispute, a reply, and exhibits in support of his arguments. (Docket entry nos. 147, 150, 153.)

3. Major G. Tillery

On or about June 7, 2007, plaintiff Major G. Tillery filed a pro se Complaint seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as to his continued placement in the MCU. Tillery v. Hayman, et al., No. 07-2662 (MLC) (Docket entry no. 1).*fn3 He named the following defendants: Hayman; Ricci; Mee; Kandell; Farber; and Jones. (Id.)

Tillery alleged that Defendants conspired to continue his placement in the NJSP MCU by engaging in only a pretense of providing him with annual review hearings in 2007, thereby subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and violating his rights to equal protection and due process as guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment. Tillery further alleged that the MCURC's April 3, 2007 annual review hearing decision did not comport with the requirements set forth in N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.11. (Id.) On December 21, 2007, this Court entered an Order allowing the claims to proceed. (Docket entry no. 7.)

On April 9, 2008, Defendants moved to dismiss Tillery's claims for lack of jurisdiction. This Court denied the motion on May 28, 2008. (Docket entry nos. 19, 22 and 23.) On June 30, 2008, this Court issued an Amended Order denying Defendants' motion. (Docket entry nos. 28, 29 and 30.) On June 5, 2008, Hayman, Ricci, Mee, Kandell, Farber and Jones filed an Answer. (Docket entry no. 25.)

As noted supra, Stovall's action eventually was consolidated with two other actions. Discovery has since concluded in this matter. Tillery filed his Pretrial Memorandum on or about July 12, 2010. (Docket entry no. 129.)

Defendants now move for summary judgment. (Docket entry no. 120.) Thereafter, Tillery informed the Court that he had been transferred to the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, Pennsylvania, for medical reasons. (Docket entry no. 139.)

There does not appear to be an opposition filed by Tillery as to defendants' motion for summary judgment, although Tillery appears to suggest that he submitted an opposition on August 24, 2010. (Docket entry no. 141.) Defendants filed a reply brief in support of their motion for summary judgment on October 21, 2010. (Docket entry no. 146.) On March 21, 2011, Tillery informed the Court that he again was transferred to the State Correctional Institution in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Docket entry no. 154.)

B. Factual Background

1. Management Control Unit

The MCU at NJSP is a close custody unit to which inmates are assigned if they pose a substantial threat (1) to the safety of others, (2) of damage to or destruction of property, or (3) of interrupting the operation of a state correctional facility.

N.J.A.C. §§ 10A:5-1.3, 10A:5-2.5. An inmate is assigned to the MCU based upon a determination made by the MCURC. N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.5. A number of criteria are considered by the MCURC when making this determination, including, inter alia, (1) the inmate's disciplinary records, (2) past criminal offenses, (3) the number and location of past institutionalizations, (4) reports by professional staff, (5) reports indicating current involvement in criminal activity in the community or within the correctional facility, (6) evidence of an attitude indicating an unwillingness to follow rules and obey orders, (7) inability to maintain a satisfactory work record as indicated in reports by work supervisors or frequency of job changes, (8) information indicating unsatisfactory adjustment to, or performance in, treatment or rehabilitative programs, and (9) evidence of the inability or unwillingness to house with other inmates in a nondisruptive and nondestructive manner. N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.4.

A formal review of each inmate placed in MCU must be made every three months by the MCURC. N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.10(a). At each review hearing, the MCURC "shall again review the information upon which the decision was based to assign the inmate to the MCU." N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.10(e). An inmate "shall be released from the MCU when, in the opinion of the MCURC, the inmate no longer poses a substantial threat: (1) to the safety of others; (2) of damage to or destruction of property; or (3) of interrupting the secure and/or orderly operation of a State correctional facility." N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.10(f).

The NJDOC also is to conduct a hearing at least once a year to determine whether an inmate's release from MCU would be appropriate. N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.11(a). At this annual hearing, the inmate has the burden of showing that the inmate should be released from MCU. Evidence thereof includes (1) participation in required programs, jobs, educational, and recreational programs, (2) compliance with criteria detailed by the MCURC, (3) no participation in certain prohibited acts for a year, and (4) agreement to reaffirm the obligation to adhere to prison rules and regulations for inmate behavior. N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.11(b).

The NJDOC then has the burden of putting forth substantial evidence, "including behavior, correctional facility adjustment, and disciplinary history that the inmate continues to pose an identifiable threat: (1) to the safety of others; (2) of damage to, or destruction of property; or (3) of interrupting the secure and/or orderly operation of a State correctional facility."

N.J.A.C. § 10A:5-2.11(c).

2. Conquest

The following facts are taken from Defendants' Statement of Material Facts, and are substantiated by the Declaration of William J. Moliens at Exhibits C, D and E. (Docket entry nos. 120-2, 120-4 through 9.) Conquest is incarcerated in the MCU at NJSP. In June 1976, Conquest began serving a sentence of two consecutive life sentences for two counts of murder and weapons possession. From 1976 to 1987, Conquest received 43 disciplinary charges, including two counts of assault with a weapon, one count of engaging in a group demonstration, five counts of conduct which disrupts, one count of an attempted offense, one count of destroying government property, four counts of possession of anything not authorized, one count of mutilating clothing issued by the government, two counts of refusing a work or program assignment, thirteen counts of refusing staff orders, one count of an unexcused absence from a work assignment, two counts of using obscene language, one count of lying, six counts of being in an unauthorized area, one count of failure to follow safety/sanitation regulations, one count of failure to comply with written rules, and one count of giving money or anything of value to another inmate, in violation of N.J.A.C. § 10A:4-4.1.

In 1984, Conquest was elected the Chairman of the Prisoners Representative Committee ("PRC") at NJSP, a position which has influence over the inmate population. But Conquest exceeded and abused his responsibilities as Chairman by inciting other inmates to engage in violent behavior against custody staff. Conquest was then assigned to the MCU in September 1984, and released from MCU in December 1984. However, Conquest subsequently schemed to overthrow the PRC by conspiring to murder other members of the group, resulting in the stabbing of an another inmate.

Thereafter, in October 1987, Conquest was transferred to the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections via the Interstate Corrections Compact, where he was incarcerated from October 1987 to March 1992. During his incarceration in Florida, Conquest accumulated eight disciplinary infractions, for which he spent approximately ten months in administrative segregation. During this time, Conquest authored a "communique" in which he described himself as a "New Afrikan political prisoner who embraces an "armed struggle." In March 1992, Conquest was transferred to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, where he was classified as ...


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