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Gregory S. Harris v. Ann Milgram

August 2, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:



This matter arises out of the allegedly unlawful detention of Plaintiff Gregory S. Harris beyond his term of incarceration. Presently before the Court is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Karen Balicki, Joyce Princianni, and Douglas Chiesa pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.


Plaintiff was formerly incarcerated in both Pennsylvania and then New Jersey between 1981 and 2008. During the twenty-seven-year period Plaintiff spent in the criminal justice system, he served various terms of imprisonment for violent criminal offenses and parole violations. Plaintiff claims that certain New Jersey officials violated his civil rights by detaining him beyond the expiration of his New Jersey prison sentence. The following is a chronology of his incarceration and parole history.

On November 20, 1981, Plaintiff was sentenced to 12 1/2 to 25 years of incarceration as a result of his conviction for armed robbery, conspiracy, assault, and a weapons violation in Pennsylvania ("the Pennsylvania Sentence"). (Chiesa Decl. Ex. E). On August 13, 1982, Plaintiff was sentenced to a fifteen-year term of incarceration for aggravated manslaughter in New Jersey ("the New Jersey Sentence"). (Chiesa Decl. Ex. A). The New Jersey Sentence ran concurrent with the Pennsylvania Sentence. (Chiesa Decl. Ex. D). After Plaintiff served five years of the Pennsylvania Sentence, Plaintiff was paroled, and transferred to the New Jersey Department of Corrections. (Chiesa Decl. Ex. D).

On September 13, 1988, Plaintiff was paroled on his New Jersey sentence. (Chiesa Decl. Ex. B). On February 8, 1989, the Parole Board issued Plaintiff a parole violation warrant because he failed to report to his parole officer. (Chiesa Decl. Ex. G). On April 11, 1989, Plaintiff was arrested again in Pennsylvania, and subsequently entered a guilty plea to charges of criminal conspiracy and robbery. As a result of those charges, Plaintiff was sentenced to a three-to-ten year term of incarceration that ran concurrently with his parole violation term ("the Second Pennsylvania Sentence").*fn1 (Chiesa Decl. Ex. E, G). One month later, on May 23, 1989, Plaintiff was indicted in Atlantic County, New Jersey for Robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, aggravated assault, and conspiracy ("the Atlantic County Indictment"). (Chiesa Decl. Ex. C).

The Second Pennsylvania Sentence expired on April 11, 2004. (Chiesa Decl. Ex. G Sentence Status Summary). On July 22, 2004, Plaintiff was taken into custody in New Jersey pending trial for the Atlantic County Indictment. Harris v. Atl. Cnty. Pros. Office, No. 04-5507, 2006 WL 572824, at *1 (D.N.J. Mar. 07, 2006). Plaintiff was extradited to New Jersey on the indictment detainer, not the parole violation warrant, which was lost. Id. The New Jersey Parole Board issued a replacement warrant on August 17, 2004. Id.

On October 5, 2004, the New Jersey Parole Board scheduled a parole hearing for October 8, 2004. (Id.). However, that hearing was postponed until March 17, 2004, because Plaintiff requested counsel, Plaintiff's counsel withdrew due to a conflict, new counsel was appointed, and because Plaintiff repeatedly requested to postpone the hearing until the Atlantic County Indictment was adjudicated. (Id.). On March 10, 2006, the Atlantic County Indictment was dismissed after a state court judge determined that Plaintiff was not competent to stand trial. (Chiesa Decl. Ex. F).

A year later, on March 21, 2007, Plaintiff had a final revocation hearing before a New Jersey Parole Board hearing officer, who sustained the revocation based upon Plaintiff's Pennsylvania conviction on the 1989 charges. (Chiesa Decl. Ex. G). One week later, a Parole Board Panel upheld the hearing officer's decision, revoked Plaintiff's parole and ordered Plaintiff to serve a forty-eight month future eligibility term. (Chiesa Decl. Ex. G). Plaintiff administratively appealed the decision of the Parole Board Panel. The full Parole Board affirmed the March 28, 2007 decision to revoke Plaintiff's parole. (Chiesa Decl. Ex. H, I). During that appeal, Plaintiff argued that the Parole Board improperly failed to award him commutation and work credits for the time he was incarcerated in Pennsylvania between August 1982 and January 1987. (Chiesa Decl. H). In response to that contention, the full Parole Board determined that whether Plaintiff was entitled to an award of commutation and work credits "is . . . a matter for the Department of Corrections[,] not the State Parole Board." (Id.). The Parole Board then advised Plaintiff to contact the Department of Corrections to resolve the matter.

Plaintiff was incarcerated in South Woods State Prison ("SWSP") between 2007 and 2008. During that period, he prepared five Administrative Remedy Forms ("Remedy Forms"), asserting that he should receive work and commutation credits for the time he spent incarcerated in Pennsylvania between August 13, 1982 and January 15, 1987.*fn2 (See Am. Compl. at 5). An SWSP official named "C. Roberts" generated the following response to the Remedy Form Plaintiff submitted on May 21, 2001:

[W]ork credits applied as follows: 7-22-04 to 10-6-05 88.4

10-7-05 to 12-20-05 10.6

12-21-05 to ...

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