976 F.2d 341 (7th Cir. 1992), 91-1993, Hamilton v. O'Leary

Docket Nº:91-1993.
Citation:976 F.2d 341
Party Name:Edward HAMILTON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Michael O'LEARY, Michael P. Lane, Vern Scott, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:September 28, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 341

976 F.2d 341 (7th Cir. 1992)

Edward HAMILTON, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Michael O'LEARY, Michael P. Lane, Vern Scott, et al.,

Defendants-Appellees.

No. 91-1993.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

September 28, 1992

Argued April 10, 1992.

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc

Denied Dec. 30, 1992.

Page 342

John P. Ratnaswamy (argued), Christopher W. Zibart, Hopkins & Sutter, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff-appellant.

Arthur Zaban, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tanya Solov (argued), Office of the Atty. Gen., Civ. Appeals Div., Chicago, Ill., for defendants-appellees.

Before POSNER and MANION, Circuit Judges, and BURNS, Senior District Judge. [*]

MANION, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant Edward Hamilton, a former prisoner at the Stateville Correctional Center, brought a Section 1983 action against various prison officials involved in the revocation of his good time credits. Hamilton had some good time credits revoked after the prison disciplinary board, the Adjustment Committee, found him guilty of possession of six homemade weapons. Hamilton's amended complaint alleges that the defendants violated due process by revoking his good time credits without

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"some evidence" pointing to his guilt. The district court dismissed Hamilton's amended complaint, with prejudice, for failure to state a claim, Hamilton v. Scott, 762 F.Supp. 794 (N.D.Ill.1991), and Hamilton appeals. Because the complaint and its attachments establish that the Adjustment Committee's finding of guilt was supported by "some evidence," we affirm.

I.

We review the grant of a motion to dismiss de novo, accepting as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and drawing inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Prince v. Rescorp Realty, 940 F.2d 1104, 1106 (7th Cir.1991). "However, we are not obliged to ignore any facts set forth in the complaint [or its attached exhibits, see Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 10(c) ] that undermine the plaintiff's claim." R.J.R. Services Inc. v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co., 895 F.2d 279, 281 (7th Cir.1989); see also Associated Builders, Inc. v. Alabama Power Co., 505 F.2d 97, 100 (5th Cir.1974) ("If the appended document, to be treated as part of the complaint for all purposes under Rule 10(c), Fed.R.Civ.P., reveals facts which foreclose recovery as a matter of law, dismissal is appropriate."). As stated in the complaint and its exhibits, the relevant facts are a follows:

In December 1984, Hamilton was a prisoner with three cellmates in Cell C-227 at the Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") in Joliet, Illinois. Cell C-227 is on the second of four galleries--that is, there are two floors of cells above the second gallery and one floor of cells below. From Cell C-227, Hamilton and his cellmates have access to a large vent. The vent runs the entire vertical length of the four galleries, from the fourth gallery down to the first gallery, and between two cells on each floor. Thus, Hamilton alleges, the prisoners in eight cells, a total of 32 prisoners, have access to some part of the vent.

On December 10, 1984, a general "shakedown" was conducted at Stateville. That morning, Hamilton "heard items being thrown into the vent from other cells." While searching Hamilton's cell, two correctional officers opened the vent and found a 16 1/2" steel pipe, a 7 1/2" file, an 11" sharpened rod and three 9 1/2" shanks. Later that day a different correctional officer, Captain Lescester Hardin, wrote up an Inmate Disciplinary Report (known as a "ticket") on each of the four prisoners in Cell C-227. Hamilton and his three cellmates were charged with possession of dangerous contraband in violation of Illinois Department of Corrections Rule 504A-104. The ticket charging Hamilton, which is attached to his complaint, states only that the six weapons were found in the cell; it does not state that the weapons were found in the vent. Hamilton received a copy of the ticket that evening but refused to sign it; immediately thereafter, Hamilton told Hardin that the weapons did not belong to him or any of his cellmates.

On December 17, 1984, a Stateville Adjustment Committee composed of defendants Vern Scott, Samuel Ingram and Abraham Flagg held disciplinary hearings for Hamilton and his three cellmates. At his hearing, Hamilton denied having anything to do with the weapons. He testified that the weapons had been found in the vent--not on him and not in the cell; and that the two correctional officers who found the weapons would so testify if called. Hamilton also asked why the prisoners in the cell next to his, Cell C-226, had not been charged and requested that the weapons be checked for fingerprints. No other witnesses were called.

The Adjustment Committee found Hamilton guilty and gave him the same punishment as his cellmates: 60 days of segregation and 60 days reduction in grade. The committee also recommended that 60 days of good time credit be revoked. The Adjustment Committee reported its decision on an Adjustment Committee Summary form which is also attached to the complaint. In the section labeled "Reasons," the committee wrote: "Inmate denied guilt to the report. Also the Committee notes inmate is assigned to Cell C-227 and is responsible for whatever is found in the cell."

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The Adjustment Committee's order was subject to review by defendant Michael O'Leary, the warden of Stateville. In addition, the Adjustment Committee's recommendation to revoke good time credit had to be approved by the Illinois Department of Corrections Administrative Review Board. On December 18, 1984, O'Leary modified the decision of the Adjustment Committee. He approved the 60 days reduction in grade and the recommendation to revoke 60 days of good time credit, but disapproved segregation. On February 22, 1985, the Administrative Review Board (acting through defendant Michael Lane, the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections) approved the revocation of good time credit. In approving Hamilton's punishment, both O'Leary and Lane relied entirely on the Adjustment Committee's reasoning. Hamilton was thus reduced in grade for 60 days and had 60 days of good time credit revoked.

Hamilton made repeated efforts to overturn his punishment. He filed two grievances with the Stateville Institutional Inquiry Board, but both were denied because Hamilton did not attend the two hearings on them. Hamilton alleges that he did not attend the hearings because he was not given a pass to attend either hearing. He also wrote letters to the Administrative Review Board and O'Leary. Two different Adjustment Committees did consider, without hearings, whether Hamilton's revoked 60 days of good time credit should be restored. The first committee made no recommendation. But on July 15, 1985, the second committee, with O'Leary's approval, recommended to Lane that the credit be restored. This recommendation was based on Hamilton's overall record which included no other Inmate Disciplinary Report. On August 2, 1985, Lane partially accepted the recommendation and restored 30 days of Hamilton's good time credit. The other 30 days were never restored. In addition, Hamilton was prevented from earning an additional 30 days of good time credit because of his 60 day reduction in grade. Hamilton was released from Stateville on parole on August 16, 1985; the parole ended on October 17, 1989.

On August 14, 1985, Hamilton filed a pro se Section 1983 complaint. After some procedural mishaps, the district court appointed counsel who filed an amended complaint on May 4, 1990. The amended complaint alleges that the Adjustment Committee's determination was supported by no evidence other than the finding of the weapons in the vent to which 32 prisoners had access. The complaint seeks a declaration that the defendants violated the Fourteenth Amendment when they punished Hamilton knowing that there was no evidence of his guilt and damages for the extra 60 days he was incarcerated because of the defendants' actions. The defendants filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss which the district court granted, with prejudice, on March 29, 1991. The district court reasoned that the Inmate Disciplinary Report and the Adjustment Committee Summary form, attached to and therefore treated as part of the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 10(c), demonstrate that the committee's decision was supported by "some evidence," thus defeating Hamilton's due process claim. Hamilton, 794 F.Supp. at 799-801.

II.

Illinois state prisoners have a statutory right to receive good time credits, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, p 1003-6-3, and such a state-created entitlement to good time credits is a liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 557, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 2975, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974). Where a prison disciplinary hearing may result in the loss of good time credits, due process requires that the inmate receive: (1) advance written notice of the claimed violation; (2) the opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence, when consistent with institutional safety and correctional goals; and (3) a written...

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