17 F.3d 1047 (7th Cir. 1994), 93-1141, Rowe v. DeBruyn

Docket Nº:93-1141.
Citation:17 F.3d 1047
Party Name:John S. ROWE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. H. Christian DeBRUYN, [*] Individually and in his official capacity as Commissioner, Indiana Department of Corrections, Jack R. Duckworth, Individually and in his official capacity as Superintendent, Indiana State Reformatory, Michael J. Watsen, Individually and in his official capacity as Correctional Lieutena
Case Date:March 02, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 1047

17 F.3d 1047 (7th Cir. 1994)

John S. ROWE, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

H. Christian DeBRUYN, [*] Individually and in his

official capacity as Commissioner, Indiana Department of

Corrections, Jack R. Duckworth, Individually and in his

official capacity as Superintendent, Indiana State

Reformatory, Michael J. Watsen, Individually and in his

official capacity as Correctional Lieutenant and the Chair

of the Conduct Adjustment Board, Indiana State Reformatory,

Lacy Morris, Individually and in his official capacity as

Correctional Officer and Member of the Conduct Adjustment

Board, Indiana State Reformatory, and Rick L. Robinson,

Individually and in his official capacity as an employee and

member of the Conduct Adjustment Board, Indiana State

Reformatory, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 93-1141.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 2, 1994

Argued Oct. 26, 1993.

As Amended on Denial of Rehearing and

Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc

May 5, 1994.[**]

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Hamid Kashani (argued), Indianapolis, IN, for plaintiff-appellant.

Thomas D. Quigley, Jon Laramore (argued), Office of the Atty. Gen., Federal Litigation, Indianapolis, IN, for defendants-appellees.

Before ESCHBACH, RIPPLE, and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

KANNE, Circuit Judge.

When this case arose, John Rowe was a prisoner at the Indiana Reformatory at Pendleton. On July 29, 1991, prison officers charged Rowe with hitting another inmate, Michael Evans, on the head with a commissary issued "hot pot." Rowe was brought before a Conduct Adjustment Board ("CAB"), consisting of appellees Michael Watsen, Lacy Morris, and Rick Robinson. The CAB found that Rowe had violated prison rules by committing battery, but also found mitigating circumstances because Rowe acted in self-defense. The CAB therefore ordered Rowe to serve one year in disciplinary

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segregation, but then suspended the penalty of segregation.

Rowe's predicament began early in July 1991, when the Reformatory transferred Michael Evans to a cell adjacent to Rowe's cell. Rowe complained to prison staff about Evans' new cell assignment, apparently because he felt that Evans' proximity might cause trouble. Rowe's fears were soon substantiated. On July 18, Evans wrote Rowe a note demanding that Rowe go to Evans' cell the next morning and engage in sexual activities with him. In the note, Evans accused Rowe of sexually enticing him and threatened that if Rowe did not meet Evans' aroused expectations, "someone will get hurt and perhaps even die."

The next morning during "breakfast feed," Evans entered Rowe's cell. Rowe claims that Evans physically attacked him and attempted to rape him. Rowe yelled out for help, and in an alleged attempt to repel Evans, struck him repeatedly with the unheated hot pot. Another prisoner, Richard Perez, hearing shouts from Rowe's cell, ran in to break up the fight. He found the two men struggling. Perez pulled Evans from Rowe and then helped Rowe push Evans out of the cell. All three men were eventually disciplined.

Before the CAB, Rowe contended that he did not commit battery in violation of prison rules, on the ground that he acted in self-defense. The CAB found that Rowe had violated prison rules "regardless of [his] self-defense plea," reasoning that the Indiana Department of Corrections ("IDOC") does not recognize self-defense as a complete defense in a prison disciplinary proceeding. The CAB did acknowledge, however, that self-defense can be a mitigating factor, and it found that the circumstances surrounding the Evans incident mitigated Rowe's penalty of segregation.

Rowe sued various prison officials pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, claiming that the IDOC's policy of denying prisoners the right to raise self-defense as a complete defense in disciplinary hearings deprived him of due process of law under the federal Constitution. 1 The district court granted the prison officers' motion for summary judgment, holding that because Rowe's penalty of segregation was suspended, the adverse disciplinary ruling against Rowe implicated no protected liberty interest under the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court alternatively held that even if the defendants deprived Rowe of a protected liberty interest, the procedures attendant upon the deprivation were reasonably related to "an essential penological objective" and thus were constitutionally sufficient.

Discussion

The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from "depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...." We begin by noting several principles that govern our review of prisoners' constitutional claims. A prisoner is "not wholly stripped of constitutional protections when he is imprisoned for crime," Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 554, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 2975, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974), and, specifically, he does retain some due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. See, e.g., id. "There is no iron curtain drawn between the Constitution and the prisons of this country." Id. Imprisonment, however, necessarily entails that an inmate lose many of the rights ordinary citizens enjoy. Id.; Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 525, 104 S.Ct. 3194, 3199, 82 L.Ed.2d 393 (1984). Furthermore, prisons must be able to curtail a prisoner's constitutional rights not only to further correctional goals, such as retribution or deterrence, but also to serve institutional objectives, the most basic of which is the internal security of the prisons themselves. See Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 823-24, 94 S.Ct. 2800, 2804, 41 L.Ed.2d 495 (1974).

We base our review of prison discretion upon the recognition that a prisoner's liberty interests are significantly restricted by the fact of his incarceration, and that prison officials must have broad discretion to dictate

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policies that promote order and safety for inmates and correctional staff. "Running a prison is an inordinately difficult undertaking that requires expertise ... peculiarly within the province of the legislative and executive branches of government.... [S]eparation of powers concerns counsel a policy of judicial restraint. Where a state penal system is involved, federal courts have ... additional reason to accord deference to the appropriate prison authorities." Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 85-86, 107 S.Ct. 2254, 2259, 96 L.Ed.2d 64 (1987).

With these principles in mind, we consider whether prison officials impermissibly infringed Rowe's Fourteenth Amendment rights when they denied him the right to assert self-defense as a complete defense to culpability in a CAB disciplinary proceeding. 2 Although the district court decided Rowe's claim as if it were a procedural due process claim, 3 we understand Rowe's constitutional challenge to fall under the rubric of substantive due process.

I.

For clarity, we should identify the kinds of claims that may arise when, as Rowe does in this case, an inmate simply alleges that a prison policy "deprives him of his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment." In a previous prisoners' rights case, we noted that "the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment is the source of three separate constitutional protections that may serve as the basis of a section 1983 claim against the state and its agents and employees." Colon v. Schneider, 899 F.2d 660, 666 (7th Cir.1990).

First, the Clause incorporates specific protections defined in the Bill of Rights.... Second, the Due Process Clause contains a substantive component that bars certain arbitrary, wrongful government actions "regardless of the fairness of the procedures used to implement them." Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, [337-38, 106 S.Ct. 662, 677-78, 88 L.Ed.2d 662 (1986) (Stevens, J., concurring) ]. As to these two types of claims, the constitutional violation actionable under Sec. 1983 is complete when the wrongful action is taken.... The Due Process Clause also encompasses a third type of protection, a guarantee of fair procedure. A Sec. 1983 action may be brought for a violation of procedural due process, but ... [i]n procedural due process claims, the deprivation by state action of a constitutionally protected interest in "life, liberty, or property" is not in itself unconstitutional; what is unconstitutional is the deprivation of such an interest without due process of law.... [Id.] The constitutional violation actionable under Sec. 1983 is not complete when the deprivation occurs; it is not complete unless and until the State fails to provide due process.

Colon, 899 F.2d at 666 (citing Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 110 S.Ct. 975, 108 L.Ed.2d 100 (1990)).

In this case, clearly Rowe does not allege that the right of self-defense is in the Bill of Rights, incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment to apply to the...

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