Winsett v. McGinnes, No. 78-1344

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore GIBBONS, VAN DUSEN and ROSENN; Before SEITZ, Chief Judge, and ALDISERT, ADAMS, GIBBONS, ROSENN, HUNTER, WEIS, GARTH, HIGGINBOTHAM and SLOVITER; ROSENN; WEIS
Citation617 F.2d 996
PartiesThomas H. WINSETT, Appellant, v. F. Earl McGINNES, Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services; Paul W. Keve, Director of the Delaware Division of Adult Corrections; Raymond W. Anderson, Superintendent of Delaware Correctional Center; Donald R. Davis, Deputy Superintendent of the Delaware Correctional Center; Milton Horton, Acting Chief of Adult Corrections; James T. Vaughn, Commissioner of Department of Corrections; Walter W. Redman, Superintendent of Delaware Correctional Center.
Docket NumberNo. 78-1344
Decision Date24 March 1980

Page 996

617 F.2d 996
Thomas H. WINSETT, Appellant,
v.
F. Earl McGINNES, Secretary of the Department of Health and
Social Services; Paul W. Keve, Director of the Delaware
Division of Adult Corrections; Raymond W. Anderson,
Superintendent of Delaware Correctional Center; Donald R.
Davis, Deputy Superintendent of the Delaware Correctional
Center; Milton Horton, Acting Chief of Adult Corrections;
James T. Vaughn, Commissioner of Department of Corrections;
Walter W. Redman, Superintendent of Delaware Correctional Center.
No. 78-1344.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Argued Dec. 11, 1978.
Reargued En Banc Nov. 8, 1979.
Decided March 24, 1980.

Page 998

Arlen B. Mekler, Wilmington, Del. (argued), for appellant.

John A. Parkins, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., Dept. of Justice, Wilmington, Del. (argued), for appellee.

Argued Dec. 11, 1978.

Before GIBBONS, VAN DUSEN and ROSENN, Circuit Judges.

Argued Before Court En Banc Nov. 8, 1979.

Before SEITZ, Chief Judge, and ALDISERT, ADAMS, GIBBONS, ROSENN, HUNTER, WEIS, GARTH, HIGGINBOTHAM and SLOVITER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

ROSENN, Circuit Judge.

This appeal requires us to determine whether certain Delaware prison officials violated an inmate's constitutional rights when, because of their fear of adverse public reaction and legislative reprisals against the prison system, they denied his applications for work release.

Following the denial of his work release applications, the inmate, Thomas H. Winsett, brought a civil rights action in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1976) and the fourteenth amendment to the federal constitution. In this action, Winsett sought compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive and declaratory relief. The prayer for injunctive relief, inter alia, sought to restrain the prison officials from considering possible public reaction and possible reprisal by the Delaware General Assembly when evaluating his future applications for admission to the program. Following a lengthy trial, the district court rejected Winsett's claims and entered judgment in favor of the defendants. This appeal followed.

We conclude that the request for injunctive relief is moot; that Winsett's prayer for damages is permissible as to two of the defendants, subject to certain findings to be made by the district court concerning official immunity and the measure of plaintiff's

Page 999

injury; and that his request for declaratory relief, insofar as it is a predicate to damages, should be granted if the trial court finds that damages may be awarded. Accordingly, the district court judgment will be vacated in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

I.

Winsett was convicted in 1964 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the felony murder of Robert Paris, a Delaware State Police Officer. The killing aroused a pervasive public outrage throughout the state. 1 As certain prison officials would later put it, "Winsett (was) singled out for more public and political attention than other inmates we know of (,) even those whose crimes were more serious. . . ."

Winsett was duly confined in the Delaware Correctional Center to begin his sentence. During the next ten years leading up to the initiation of this litigation, Winsett was a model prisoner. He pursued courses in heating and air conditioning, did maintenance work for the prison, wrote weekly articles about prison life in a prison newspaper, and got along well with other inmates and officers. On September 16, 1974, believing himself to be sufficiently rehabilitated to adjust to life outside the prison, Winsett requested classification to work release status. 425 F.Supp. at 610. Work release is a program by which prisoners are permitted to maintain employment in the community while still under correctional supervision. Releasees return to a correctional institution or a residential center after the completion of each workday. The work release program in Delaware is governed by 11 Del.C. § 6533(a). That section, at the time of Winsett's initial application, provided:

(a) The Department may adopt rules and regulations governing the employment or education of trustworthy inmates outside the institutions . . . except that whenever the Department requests placement of inmates in a school of a reorganized school district, the approval of the board of education of that district shall be a prerequisite to such placement. . . . 2

Pursuant to this statutory authority, the Delaware Department of Corrections adopted a set of rules, also applicable at the time of Winsett's September 1974 application for work release. 3 Together, the statute and

Page 1000

the rules established a vital rehabilitative system, one which the Delaware Division of Adult Corrections has acknowledged as among "the final steps in . . . provid(ing) treatment and training of inmates with an end result of their being able to take their place in society as law-abiding citizens upon their release."

Approval for work release requires the concurrence of three levels of decisionmakers. A prisoner must first apply to an appropriate "classification team." In Winsett's case, this first level review was carried out by the Minimum Security Building Classification Team. That team approved his application for work release. Its recommendation was then forwarded to the so-called Institution Classification Committee which also approved Winsett's application. 443 F.Supp. at 1370; 425 F.Supp. at 610.

As Winsett's application was working its way up to Superintendent Raymond W. Anderson for his final approval, public opposition to granting work release to Winsett became increasingly evident. One manifestation of this growing opposition was an August 7, 1974 letter addressed to Delaware Correctional Center Superintendent Anderson and written by Delaware State Senator Cicione. The letter strongly condemned what the Senator believed to be Anderson's intention to prepare Winsett for work release. "As a State Senator," the author declared, "I demand that you reconsider and retract the actions already taken and take immediate steps to return Winsett to the ranks of regular prison restrictions."

The letter elicited an equally strong response from Superintendent Anderson. On August 8, 1974, more than a month before Winsett applied for work release, defendant Anderson wrote the Senator, informing him that "as long as I am Superintendent of the institution, I shall never be able to entertain any requests from Tom (Winsett) in regards to Work Release. . . ." The Senator "greatly appreciated" this response and "commend(ed Anderson) for (his) stand on not allowing Mr. Winsett to participate in the work-release program." On September 26, 1974, Superintendent Anderson rejected Winsett's application for work release.

Thereupon, on October 15, 1974, Winsett initiated this action. He alleged that the defendants' decision was predicated on the "sensitivity" of his offense, and charged that such a factor is "a legally impermissible" basis for evaluating work release applications. Winsett proceeded against F. Earl McGinnes, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Paul W. Keve, Director of the Delaware Division of Adult Corrections and later Acting Commissioner of the Delaware Department of Corrections, Raymond W. Anderson, Superintendent of the Correctional Center, and Donald Davis, Deputy Superintendent of the Delaware Correctional Center. 4

While this action was pending in the trial court, Winsett applied a second and third time for work release. His second application, filed in early March of 1976, was approved by both the Minimum Security Building Classification Team and the Institution Classification Committee. However, Milton Horton, then Assistant Director of the Adult Division, recommended that Winsett's "application be deferred until (a) decision on (the) transfer" was made. 5 Paul

Page 1001

Keve, who was Acting Commissioner of the Department of Corrections at the time, agreed and the application was deferred, but was formally recorded as a denial.

Winsett filed his third and final application for work release in November, 1976. Again he was approved by the Minimum Security Building Classification Team and the Institution Classification Committee. A third committee, newly created by the General Assembly and entitled the Institutional Release Classification Board, also approved Winsett's application. The application was vetoed, however, by Milton Horton, now Assistant Bureau Chief of Adult Correction. Horton advanced three reasons for his veto decision: (1) the seriousness of the offense; (2) the lack of a certified parole release date, which he believed was required by the existing guidelines; and (3) Winsett's previous history of model conduct during incarceration in other institutions for offenses committed prior to the Paris murder, and that his good conduct during his present incarceration should therefore be given less weight. This veto was approved by then Commissioner James T. Vaughn.

Following the denials of Winsett's second and third applications for work release, additional defendants Milton Horton, James Vaughn, and Superintendent Walter W. Redman were joined in the action. 6 On December 30, 1976, the district court, in a preliminary jurisdictional ruling, held that plaintiff's request for injunctive relief, insofar as it sought his immediate admission to work release, would be denied. 425 F.Supp. at 613. The court based its ruling on the Supreme Court's decision in Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973), which held that "when a state prisoner is challenging the very fact or duration of his physical imprisonment, and the relief he seeks is a determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a speedier release from that imprisonment, his sole federal remedy is...

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108 practice notes
  • Fain, In re, Cr. A019142
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 21 Enero 1983
    ...446 A.2d 104, 119.) Page 662 The issue involved herein was dealt with at greater length in Winsett v. McGinnes (3d Cir.1980) (en banc) 617 F.2d 996, cert. den. sub nom. Anderson v. Winsett (1981) 449 U.S. 1093, 101 S.Ct. 891, 66 L.Ed.2d 822. There, Delaware prison officials, because of thei......
  • Lucas v. Hodges, No. 83-1099
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 23 Marzo 1984
    ...& Probation Dep't, 636 F.2d 1 (1st Cir.1980), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 1032, 101 S.Ct. 1744, 68 L.Ed.2d 228 (1981); Winsett v. McGinnes, 617 F.2d 996, 1003-04 (3d Cir.1980) (en banc), cert. denied sub nom. Anderson v. Winsett, 449 U.S. 1093, 101 S.Ct. 891, 66 L.Ed.2d 822 (1981); Lokey v. ......
  • Board of Pardons v. Allen, No. 86-461
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 9 Junio 1987
    ...at 577-578 (South Dakota regulations); Green v. Black, 755 F.2d 687, 688 (CA8 1985) (Missouri policy statement); Winsett v. McGinnes, 617 F.2d 996, 1007 (CA3 1980) (Delaware regulations), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1093, 101 S.Ct. 891, 66 L.Ed.2d 822 (1981)....
  • American Future Systems, Inc. v. Pennsylvania State University, Civ. No. 81-0171.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 15 Febrero 1983
    ...1944, 23 L.Ed.2d 491 (1969); Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498, 31 S.Ct. 279, 55 L.Ed. 310 (1911); Winsett v. McGinnis, 617 F.2d 996, 1003 (3d Cir.1980), cert. denied sub nom. Anderson v. Winsett, 449 U.S. 1093, 101 S.Ct. 891, 66 L.Ed.2d 822 The only student Plaintiffs who ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
108 cases
  • Fain, In re, Cr. A019142
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 21 Enero 1983
    ...446 A.2d 104, 119.) Page 662 The issue involved herein was dealt with at greater length in Winsett v. McGinnes (3d Cir.1980) (en banc) 617 F.2d 996, cert. den. sub nom. Anderson v. Winsett (1981) 449 U.S. 1093, 101 S.Ct. 891, 66 L.Ed.2d 822. There, Delaware prison officials, because of thei......
  • Lucas v. Hodges, No. 83-1099
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 23 Marzo 1984
    ...& Probation Dep't, 636 F.2d 1 (1st Cir.1980), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 1032, 101 S.Ct. 1744, 68 L.Ed.2d 228 (1981); Winsett v. McGinnes, 617 F.2d 996, 1003-04 (3d Cir.1980) (en banc), cert. denied sub nom. Anderson v. Winsett, 449 U.S. 1093, 101 S.Ct. 891, 66 L.Ed.2d 822 (1981); Lokey v. Rich......
  • Board of Pardons v. Allen, No. 86-461
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 9 Junio 1987
    ...at 577-578 (South Dakota regulations); Green v. Black, 755 F.2d 687, 688 (CA8 1985) (Missouri policy statement); Winsett v. McGinnes, 617 F.2d 996, 1007 (CA3 1980) (Delaware regulations), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1093, 101 S.Ct. 891, 66 L.Ed.2d 822 (1981)....
  • American Future Systems, Inc. v. Pennsylvania State University, Civ. No. 81-0171.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 15 Febrero 1983
    ...1944, 23 L.Ed.2d 491 (1969); Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498, 31 S.Ct. 279, 55 L.Ed. 310 (1911); Winsett v. McGinnis, 617 F.2d 996, 1003 (3d Cir.1980), cert. denied sub nom. Anderson v. Winsett, 449 U.S. 1093, 101 S.Ct. 891, 66 L.Ed.2d 822 The only student Plaintiffs who ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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