Dickerson v. Warden, Marquette Prison, Docket No. 46384

CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)
Writing for the CourtV. J. BRENNAN
Citation298 N.W.2d 841,99 Mich.App. 630
PartiesChester Gene DICKERSON and Oscar Joseph Pratt, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. WARDEN, MARQUETTE PRISON, Defendant-Appellee.
Decision Date27 August 1980
Docket NumberDocket No. 46384

Page 841

298 N.W.2d 841
99 Mich.App. 630
Chester Gene DICKERSON and Oscar Joseph Pratt, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
WARDEN, MARQUETTE PRISON, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket No. 46384.
Court of Appeals of Michigan.
Aug. 27, 1980.
Released for Publication Dec. 9, 1980.

Page 842

[99 Mich.App. 633] Chester Gene Dickerson, in pro. per.

Oscar Joseph Prat in pro. per.

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Thomas C. Nelson, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendant-appellee.

Page 843

Before CYNAR, P. J., and V. J. BRENNAN and CAVANAGH, JJ.

V. J. BRENNAN, Judge.

Chester E. Dickerson and Oscar J. Pratt, inmates of the Marquette Branch Prison, appeal from the circuit court's dismissal of their "order for show cause" which alleged, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, a denial of Federal constitutional rights under color of state law. The plaintiffs claim that they were reclassified to a more restrictive inmate status without being afforded an opportunity to present proof to dispute the charges which served as the basis for their reclassification.

The incident which led to the reclassification occurred on June 6, 1978, when the plaintiffs were visited by Barbara Kreusher. Because of the trio's suspicious behavior, the visit was terminated, and the plaintiffs were searched. During the search, the plaintiffs struggled with a guard, and plaintiff Pratt flushed an object down a toilet. A subsequent search of the sewer line disclosed a round, dark object about three inches in length containing a sizeable quantity of marijuana. The guard identified this object as that which he saw plaintiff Pratt flush down the toilet.

[99 Mich.App. 634] On June 7, 1978, both plaintiffs were served with a notice of intent to conduct an administrative hearing concerning their security classifications. Following a hearing on June 8, 1978, the pair were placed in solitary confinement, which was termed "administrative segregation, triple O, F Unit; and also placed on closed visits". According to a prison spokesperson, the purpose of the June 8, 1978, classification hearing was not to investigate the alleged misconduct or criminal behavior but merely to decide whether to place the inmates in some form of restrictive custody until the matter was settled. A disciplinary hearing was conducted eight months later, at which time the plaintiffs received penalties of 7 days in solitary confinement. The plaintiffs remained in solitary confinement in the interim.

On July 18, 1978, the circuit court denied the petition in an opinion and order. 1 The judge did not reach the underlying merits of the dispute, finding that the plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies. The plaintiffs appeal. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the appeal which we deny.

The first question before us is whether the plaintiffs have made out a claim actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Although 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is a Federal statute, state courts exercise concurrent jurisdiction over § 1983 claims. International Prisoners' Union v. Rizzo, 356 F.Supp. 806 (E.D.Pa., 1973); Brown v. Pitchess, 13 Cal.3d 518, 119 Cal.Rptr. 204, 531 P.2d 772 (1975); Alberty v. Daniel, 25 Ill.App.3d 291, 323 N.E.2d 110 (1974); Terry v. Kolski, 78 Wis.2d 475, 254 N.W.2d 704 (1977). Despite the foregoing,[99 Mich.App. 635] if the petitioner in an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 fails to plead that a constitutional right has been violated under color of state law, there can be no redress under the statute. In the instant case, the plaintiffs allege a violation of their rights to procedural due process. Specifically, they claim that they were reclassified to more restrictive inmate status without being afforded an opportunity to present proof to dispute the charges which served as the basis for the reclassification.

It cannot be gainsaid that the plaintiffs, as inmates of Marquette Prison, do not have a right to the same constitutional protections accorded nonimprisoned citizens. These plaintiffs have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a judicial proceeding providing the full panoply of rights and protections guaranteed to the criminally accused under both our Federal and State Constitutions. Lawful incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and rights justified by considerations underlying the penal system. While the convicted prisoner

Page 844

does not forfeit all his constitutional protections when the prison gates close behind him, prison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal prosecution and thus do not call into play all those rights due a defendant in a criminal prosecution. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974). 2

[99 Mich.App. 636] In Wolff the Supreme Court determined that before a prisoner could be denied "good-time credit", the following due process requirements must be met: (1) advance written notice of the charges of at least 24 hours prior to the disciplinary hearing; (2) a written statement by the factfinder(s) explaining the reason for any disciplinary action must be supplied to the prisoner; and (3) the opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence, if this would not be unduly hazardous to institutional safety or correctional goals, must be afforded to the prisoner. While Wolff was concerned with the question of the State's deprivation of good-time credits, footnote 19 extends these minimal due process requirements to the imposition of "solitary confinement" as a disciplinary measure.

"19. Although the complaint put at issue the procedures employed with respect to the deprivation of good time, under the Nebraska system, the same procedures are employed where disciplinary confinement is imposed. The deprivation of good time and 'solitary' confinement are reserved for instances where serious misbehavior has occurred. This appears a realistic approach, for it would be difficult for the purposes of procedural due process to distinguish between the procedures that are required where good time is forfeited and those that must be extended when solitary confinement is at issue. The latter represents a major change in the conditions of confinement and is normally imposed only when it is claimed and proved that there has been a major act of misconduct. Here, as in the case of good time, there should be minimum procedural safeguards as a hedge against arbitrary determination of the factual predicate for imposition of the sanction. We do not suggest, however, that the procedures required by today's decision for the deprivation of good time would also be required for the imposition of lesser...

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24 practice notes
  • Mitchem v. Melton, No. 15136
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 12, 1981
    ...531 P.2d 772, 119 Cal.Rptr. 204 (1975); Wesson v. Johnson, 195 Colo. 521, 579 P.2d 1165 (1978); Dickerson v. Warden, Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 298 N.W.2d 841 (1980); MacNeil v. Klein, 141 N.J.Super. 394, 358 A.2d 488 (1976); Cooper v. Morin, 49 N.Y.2d 69, 399 N.E.2d 1188, 424 N.Y.......
  • Marx v. Truck Renting and Leasing Ass'n Inc., No. 57130
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 30, 1987
    ...Santana v. Registrars of Voters, 384 Mass. 487, 492, 425 N.E.2d 745, 749 (1981); Michigan: Dickerson v. Warden Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 634, 298 N.W.2d 841, 843 (1980); Minnesota: Sweeney v. Special School Dist. No. 1, 368 N.W.2d 288, 291-92 (Minn.Ct.App.1985); Missouri: Shapiro ......
  • Bauserman v. Unemployment Ins. Agency, SC 160813
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 26, 2022
    ...don't have the power to determine constitutional questions or afford consequential damages. See Dickerson v Warden, Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 641-642; 298 N.W.2d 841 (1980). And the state's sovereign immunity, guaranteed by the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution,......
  • Eischen v. Minnehaha County, No. 14491
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • October 23, 1984
    ...concurrent jurisdiction with federal courts pertaining to actions for violation of civil rights. Dickerson v. Warden, Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 298 N.W.2d 841 (1980); Brown v. Pitchess, 13 Cal.3d 518, 531 P.2d 772, 119 Cal.Rptr. 204 (1975). Minnehaha County was sued in its corpora......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Mitchem v. Melton, No. 15136
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 12, 1981
    ...531 P.2d 772, 119 Cal.Rptr. 204 (1975); Wesson v. Johnson, 195 Colo. 521, 579 P.2d 1165 (1978); Dickerson v. Warden, Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 298 N.W.2d 841 (1980); MacNeil v. Klein, 141 N.J.Super. 394, 358 A.2d 488 (1976); Cooper v. Morin, 49 N.Y.2d 69, 399 N.E.2d 1188, 424 N.Y.......
  • Marx v. Truck Renting and Leasing Ass'n Inc., No. 57130
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 30, 1987
    ...Santana v. Registrars of Voters, 384 Mass. 487, 492, 425 N.E.2d 745, 749 (1981); Michigan: Dickerson v. Warden Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 634, 298 N.W.2d 841, 843 (1980); Minnesota: Sweeney v. Special School Dist. No. 1, 368 N.W.2d 288, 291-92 (Minn.Ct.App.1985); Missouri: Shapiro ......
  • Bauserman v. Unemployment Ins. Agency, SC 160813
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 26, 2022
    ...don't have the power to determine constitutional questions or afford consequential damages. See Dickerson v Warden, Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 641-642; 298 N.W.2d 841 (1980). And the state's sovereign immunity, guaranteed by the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution,......
  • Eischen v. Minnehaha County, No. 14491
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • October 23, 1984
    ...concurrent jurisdiction with federal courts pertaining to actions for violation of civil rights. Dickerson v. Warden, Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 298 N.W.2d 841 (1980); Brown v. Pitchess, 13 Cal.3d 518, 531 P.2d 772, 119 Cal.Rptr. 204 (1975). Minnehaha County was sued in its corpora......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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