44 F.3d 1026 (D.C. Cir. 1995), 93-7155, Beo v. District of Columbia

Docket Nº:93-7155.
Citation:44 F.3d 1026
Party Name:Johnny BEO, Appellee, v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Walter B. Ridley, Director, and Bernard L. Braxton, Administrator, Occoquan Facility, Appellants.
Case Date:January 27, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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Page 1026

44 F.3d 1026 (D.C. Cir. 1995)

Johnny BEO, Appellee,

v.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Walter B. Ridley, Director, and

Bernard L. Braxton, Administrator, Occoquan

Facility, Appellants.

No. 93-7155.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

January 27, 1995

Argued Nov. 14, 1994.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (91cv2264.)

Page 1027

Donna M. Murasky, Asst. Corp. Counsel, Washington, DC, argued the cause, for appellants. With her on the briefs were Vanessa Ruiz, Corp. Counsel, Charles L. Reischel, Deputy Corp. Counsel, and Lutz A. Prager, Asst. Deputy Corp. Counsel, Washington, DC. John Adolphus Payton, Washington, DC, entered an appearance, for appellants.

David Ober, Washington, DC, argued the cause, for appellee. With him on the brief was Douglas K. Spaulding, Washington, DC.

Before: WALD, SILBERMAN, and RANDOLPH, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge SILBERMAN.

SILBERMAN, Circuit Judge:

The District of Columbia appeals from a district court judgment that it violated appellee Johnny Beo's constitutional rights by transferring him from one prison to another in breach of a settlement agreement. We reverse.

I.

Beo was convicted of rape in the D.C. superior court in 1978 and subsequently incarcerated. In 1987, he began a series of legal challenges to his prison conditions; he sued in our district court protesting his circumstances at Lorton (the D.C. Maximum Security Facility). A settlement was reached between Beo and the District whereby the latter agreed to transfer Beo to Occoquan and keep him there as long as he complied with Occoquan's regulations and his transfer from Occoquan was not otherwise warranted under the District's regulations governing transfer among its prisons. Four years later, in 1991, Beo sued in superior court alleging, inter alia, that he had been transferred back to Lorton in violation of the settlement agreement. Shortly thereafter, on August 8, 1991, this suit too was settled by the District's agreement to transfer to and house Beo at Occoquan "when space becomes available." Later that month, on the 26th, Beo wrote Judge Peter Wolf of the D.C. superior court complaining that he had not yet been transferred to Occoquan. Judge Wolf directed the District to indicate that it was in compliance with the settlement agreement, but by September 6th Beo had already sued again, this time back in federal district court.

Beo's third suit claimed that the District had not only breached both previous settlement agreements but also violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Beo's allegations focused on the seven times he had been transferred to Lorton subsequent to the first agreement. The case was put to a jury, which determined that none of the transfers violated the first agreement because each was consistent with the District's rules and regulations (i.e., attributed to appellee's disciplinary misconduct, psychiatric problems, or voluntary requests for protective custody). The jury did find, however, that a transfer back to Lorton on November 21, 1991, after the complaint had been filed, violated the second settlement agreement. Beo was awarded $100 damages for his due process claim and another $100 for his supplemental breach of contract claim. The district judge issued an injunction barring Beo's return to Lorton and denied the District's motion for j.n.o.v. based on the argument that no federal constitutional claim had been made out (it had argued that at most the District had breached its contract with Beo under D.C. law). The court held that "a stipulation of settlement between an inmate and prison official creates rights under the due process...

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