Scott v. Plante, s. 75-1552

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Citation532 F.2d 939
Docket Number75-2356,Nos. 75-1552,s. 75-1552
PartiesAllen Bodine SCOTT, Appellant, v. Dr. Ingre Rudolph PLANTE, M. D. Allen B. SCOTT v. Ann KLEIN, Individually and in her official capacities as Commissioner of institutions and agencies. Allen B. SCOTT v. Dr. Martin WEINBERG. Allen B. SCOTT v. Gov. Brendan T. BYRNE. Allen B. SCOTT, Appellant, v. Hon. Richard J. HUGHES. . Submitted Under Third Circuit Rule 12(6)
Decision Date10 December 1975

Edward F. Duschock, Perth Amboy, N. J. (Alfred J. Petit-Clair, Jr., Perth Amboy, N. J., of counsel and on the brief), for appellant in No. 75-1552; Allen B. Scott, pro se in No. 75-2356.

William F. Hyland, Atty. Gen. of N. J., Trenton, N. J., for defendants; Richard M. Conley, Deputy Atty. Gen., Trenton, N. J., of counsel; Mark A. Geannette, Deputy Atty. Gen., Trenton, N. J., on the brief.

Before SEITZ, Chief Judge, and GIBBONS and ROSENN, Circuit Judges.


GIBBONS, Circuit Judge.

These consolidated appeals bring before us five separate pro se complaints filed by Allen B. Scott, a long time resident of Trenton State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital to which New Jersey has customarily committed persons charged with a crime but unable to stand trial or acquitted by reason of insanity.

In District Court Civil Action No. 1052-73, consisting of complaints filed on July 17, 1973 and July 27, 1973, the defendant is Dr. Ingre Rudolph Plante, a physician employed as Chief Executive Officer of the Trenton State Hospital (hereinafter Hospital). These complaints allege that Scott has been confined to the Hospital since 1955, that all charges against him were dismissed on the ground of insanity in 1968, and that since 1968 he has been confined in violation of his constitutional rights. The July 27th complaint asserts that Scott has been forced to take drugs and other treatment against his will and without consent of any family member. The complaints seek declaratory relief and damages.

In District Court Civil Action No. 74-989, filed July 1, 1974, the defendant is Ann Klein, the New Jersey Commissioner of Institutions and Agencies, which department includes the Hospital. The complaint alleges that the defendant has "made no effort to rehabilitate me, discharge me or transfer me to a civil hospital, sense (sic) my charges were dismissed over 5 years ago." The complaint seeks damages and injunctive relief.

In District Court Civil Action No. 74-1715, filed November 4, 1974, the defendant is Dr. Martin Weinberg, Medical Director of the Hospital and New Jersey Mental Health Commissioner. The complaint states:

I developed a lung condition or tuberculosis from the lack of fresh air or proper I should of (sic) been transferred to the civil hospital tuberculosis bldg.

ventilation in the Vroom Bldg. Dayrooms. The dayrooms are full of smoke and stale air. There is inadequate heating and ventilation in all of the Vroom Bldg.

The Vroom Building is the maximum security wing of the Hospital. The complaint seeks damages and a transfer to a civil tuberculosis hospital. It also repeats the allegation in Civil Action No. 1052-73 of unlawful confinement.

In District Court Civil Action No. 74-1958 filed December 6, 1974, the defendant is Governor Brendan T. Byrne. It repeats the allegation in Civil Action No. 1052-73 that all criminal charges against Scott have been dismissed, and claims that the refusal to transfer him to a civil hospital violates his constitutional rights. The complaint seeks declaratory relief and damages.

In District Court Civil Action No. 74-2032, filed December 30, 1974, the defendant is Chief Justice Richard J. Hughes. On behalf of Scott and all similarly situated inmates of the Vroom Building, the complaint alleges that the practice of holding hearings on sanity in the Vroom Building does not give the inmates a meaningful hearing. Scott contends that the presiding judge does not permit inmates to testify on their own behalf and that the hearings are not open to the public but instead are held in the staff room which provides no room for inmates to have family or relatives present. Scott also repeats the allegation of Civil Action No. 1052-73 that since criminal charges have been dropped he should be transferred to a civil hospital. The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages on behalf of the class.

In all five actions Scott sought the appointment of counsel, but in each case the court ruled that appointment was not warranted.

In Civil Action No. 1052-73 the Attorney General of New Jersey, in November, 1973, moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P., for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. This motion was denied on January 8, 1974. 1 On August 1, 1974 the Attorney General made a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(b), Fed.R.Civ.P., supported by the affidavits of Herbert G. Saexinger, M.D., the assistant Medical Director of the Hospital, and of Frances McRoberts, the keeper of the Hospital's medical records, to which he attached Scott's pertinent patient records. These affidavits were submitted to the court only, and were not served on Scott, because the Attorney General stated that it was the policy of prison hospitals, when dealing with prisoners who suffer from psychiatric maladies, not to reveal the contents of their medical records. On September 19, 1974 this motion for summary judgment was denied. The court in a letter to Scott and the deputy Attorney General handling the case pointed out that not having seen the affidavits Scott was in no position to comply with Rule 56(e), Fed.R.Civ.P., and that in any event the affidavits simply did not address the issue of the legality of Scott's confinement. 2

Thereafter, following the recommendation of Judge Biunno, the Attorney General forwarded to the court certified copies of all process, pleadings, transcripts and orders filed in the State Court proceedings. These are contained in the record as exhibits R-1 through R-37. On January 27, 1975 the Attorney General, relying on these newly submitted documents, again moved for summary judgment. On February 4, 1975 the court in a "Letter Opinion and Order" which is quoted in full in the margin 3 Eventually, District Court Civil Actions Nos. 74-989, 74-1715, 74-1958 and 74-2032 were, on the motion of the Attorney General and over Scott's objection, ordered to be consolidated for trial. By the time the cases were consolidated, however, answers had been filed in each action by the Attorney General. No Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 56 motion, however, was filed. On April 30, 1975 the district court sua sponte filed a "Letter Opinion and Order" dismissing the actions without prejudice. Judge Biunno's From the pleadings and affidavits we glean that Scott was indicted in Burlington County, New Jersey, for the murder of his grandmother on July 18, 1954. In February, 1955, a hearing was held pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:163-2 in which a jury determined that Scott was mentally incompetent to stand trial on the indictment, and an order was entered that he be removed from imprisonment in the Burlington County Jail and confined to the Trenton State Hospital "until such time as he may be restored to reason, but not to be released from such confinement except upon the order of this court." (Exhibit R-2). He has been confined to the Vroom Building ever since, except for brief periods when he was returned to Burlington County to stand trial on the indictment. The trial, however, never took place. On October 7, 1968 the indictment was dismissed on the ground that Scott was insane when the offense was committed, and he was returned to the state hospital "until further order of this court." (Record at 4, Scott v. Plante, Civ. Action No. 1052-73). See N.J.S.A. 2A:163-3.

granted the motion. 4 The appeal in Court of Appeals No. 75-1552 followed opinion 5 is quoted in full in the margin. 6 The appeal in Court of Appeals No. 75-2356 followed.

Periodically between 1955 and 1973 Scott presented habeas corpus petitions to the Superior Court, Law Division, Mercer County, seeking release from confinement. Although on at least two occasions the state habeas corpus court found him competent to stand trial (Exhibits R-6, R-9) and returned him to the Burlington County Jail, at no time, even after the indictment was dismissed, did the court order his release. In some instances the state habeas corpus court, after a hearing, found that Scott was incompetent and if released would be dangerous to himself or to others or to the property of others. See N.J.S.A. 2A:163-3. Such a finding was made on December 15, 1971. (Exhibit R-32). In some cases the court found only that Scott was in need of further hospitalization and treatment. The two most recent hearings reflected in the record, on May 21, 1973 and on September 27, 1973, resulted in the latter type findings. (Exhibits R-35, R-1). No appeal appears to have been taken from any of these denials of habeas corpus relief.

The affidavit of Dr. Saexinger discloses that in June of 1974, when it was executed, Scott was receiving medication. It does not disclose, however, whether the administration of medication is voluntary or involuntary. Dr. Saexinger sets forth a diagnosis Thus, the district court had before it a complainant who, though once charged with murder, is no longer subject to an indictment, but nevertheless is confined. That complainant challenges (1) the allegedly involuntary administration of medication; (2) his continued confinement without receiving proper treatment for his mental condition; (3) the physical conditions in the Vroom Building, which he alleges caused tuberculosis; (4) his confinement in violation of his constitutional rights; and (5) the procedures afforded by the New Jersey court system to inmates of the Vroom Building for determining their sanity. Since the district court largely ignored the...

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