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Powell v. Ward

decided: March 4, 1981.

ELIZABETH POWELL, DALREE MAPP, KATHERINE PURRINGTON, ALTHEA MCDANIELS, PAULA HERBERT, CYNDI REED, AND MARGARET GATLING, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES-CROSS-APPELLANTS,
v.
BENJAMIN WARD, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, JANICE WARNE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SUPERINTENDENT OF BEDFORD HILLS CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, AND PHYLLIS JOAN CURRY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SUPERINTENDENT OF BEDFORD HILLS CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS-CROSS-APPELLEES



Appeal and cross-appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Sourther District of New York, Charles E. Stewart, Judge, 487 F. Supp. 917, that, inter alia, entered permanent injunction with respect to procedures to be followed in inmate disciplinary proceedings, held superintendent of correctional facility in civil contempt of preliminary injunction entered in 1975, ordered expungement of certain records, and appointed a special master. Affirmed as modified.

Before Kaufman, Kearse and Bright,*fn* Circuit Judges.

Author: Per Curiam

Defendants-Appellants appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Charles E. Stewart, Judge, dated April 29, 1980, as amended by an order dated May 1, 1980 ("the 1980 Order"), 487 F. Supp. 917, holding defendant Phyllis Joan Curry in civil contempt of a preliminary injunction entered June 23, 1975, as modified by this Court on appeal, 542 F.2d 101 (2d Cir. 1976) ("1975 Order" or "Order"). The 1980 Order imposed a fine on Curry, ordered the appointment of a special master to oversee future compliance with the 1975 Order, ordered the expungement of certain records, and awarded plaintiffs damages in the amount of $1 and reasonable attorneys' fees. Plaintiffs have cross-appealed, contending, inter alia, that Curry should have been held in criminal contempt, that the expungement order was too limited, and that plaintiffs were entitled to a larger award of damages.

We modify the 1980 Order with respect to the period for which records are to be expunged and, as thus modified, we affirm.

The plaintiffs and the class they represent are inmates at New York's Bedford Hills Correctional Facility ("Bedford Hills") who moved for an order holding defendant Curry, the present Superintendent of Bedford Hills, in contempt of the court's 1975 Order governing disciplinary proceedings against inmates at Bedford Hills. The circumstances that gave rise to the 1975 Order are fully set forth in the prior opinions in this case, 392 F. Supp. 628 (S.D.N.Y.1975), affirmed as modified, 542 F.2d 101 (2d Cir. 1976), familiarity with which is assumed.

The 1975 Order was designed to require that, in disciplining inmates, defendants comply with the procedural requirements set forth in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 41 L. Ed. 2d 935 (1974).*fn1 The types of discipline that were the focus of the Order are those that could result in any of the various "special" confinements that exist at Bedford Hills. Special confinements can result from either an Adjustment Committee or a Superintendent's Proceeding,*fn2 and can take the form of solitary confinement in a Segregation Unit, restricted freedom in a Special Housing Unit*fn3 or the loss of right to leave a prison cell, called "keeplock."*fn4 487 F. Supp. at 925. The 1975 Order provided, in pertinent part, as follows:

1. Defendants shall conduct all Adjustment Committee or Superintendent's Proceedings, or other disciplinary proceedings that may result in an inmate at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility being confined in a Special Housing Unit or Segregation Unit, in accordance with the following procedures:

a) Formal written notice of charges must be served on the inmate at least 24 hours before the hearing;

b) The inmate shall be permitted to call witnesses on her behalf provided that so doing does not jeopardize institutional safety or correctional goals. The written notice of charges served in accordance with Paragraph 1(a), shall inform the inmate of her right to call witnesses;

c) If permission to call a witness is denied, the party conducting the hearing shall give the inmate a written statement stating the reasons for the denial, including the specific threat to institutional safety or correctional goals presented by the witness.

d) At the conclusion of the hearing, the inmate shall be given a written statement of the evidence relied on and the reasons for any action taken;

e) No person who has participated in any investigation of the acts complained of, or who was a witness to those acts shall be a member of any Adjustment Committee or Superintendent's Proceeding relating to those acts;

2. If any inmate is confined to Special Housing or segregation "pending investigation" of charges, a hearing must be held within seven days of the date of her confinement. In unusual or emergency situations, the seven-day requirement may be extended but only with the ...


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