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LEE v. COUGHLIN

September 28, 1995

RAYMOND LEE, Plaintiff, against THOMAS A. COUGHLIN, III, Commissioner, JAMES MAHONEY, Hearing Officer, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SOTOMAYOR

 SONIA SOTOMAYOR, U.S.D.J.

 Plaintiff Raymond Lee, currently incarcerated in Coxsackie Correctional Facility, brings this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that defendant, James Mahoney, as the hearing officer who presided at plaintiff's administrative prison hearing on assault charges, deprived him of due process by denying him as employee assistant to aid him during the hearing and that defendant Thomas A. Coughlin violated his rights by affirming Mahoney's constitutionally infirm decision on appeal. Plaintiff was found guilty of the assault charges and served 376 days in segregation from which he was released after the determination of guilty was annulled as a result of an Article 78 proceeding.

 Defendants move for summary judgment *fn1" under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff cross-moves for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, I deny defendant Mahoney's motion for summary judgment on the ground of qualified immunity and grant plaintiff's motion for summary judgment against him. I grant defendant Coughlin's motion for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff has failed to state or prove a claim against him.

 BACKGROUND

 While at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, plaintiff Lee was issued an Inmate Misbehavior Report (hereinafter "IMR") dated June 9, 1992, signed by A. Millen *fn2" charging him with assault, a violation of institutional Rule 100.10. According to Millen

 
on 6/9/92 while returning from HBA yard (Tappan) at approximately 9:30 p.m., inmate Pinkney, Terrence 914141, P-663, was stabbed on the face, and neck (right side) by an object which he believed to be a makeshift blade. Upon investigation inmate Lee, R. 80B0756 was identified as the person who inflicted the wound.

 Plaintiff's Exhibit A; Defendants' Exhibit D.

 On June 10, 1992, in an Unusual Incident Report signed by Superintendent John Keane, the assault on inmate Pinkney was described as follows:

 
while returning from HBA inmate Pinkney was attacked by 3 unknown inmates. A struggle incurred [sic] and inmate Pinkney received a 5" inch laceration on the right side of his face. Area search conducted, no contraband found.

 Plaintiff's Exhibit E; Defendants' Exhibit E.

 On June 11, 1992, plaintiff was given a form entitled "Sing Sing Correctional Facility Assistance Sheet" (hereinafter "assistance sheet") by Officer C. Hill which informed him of his right to select an employee assistant from a list established by the facility pursuant to N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 7, § 251-4.1, 4.2 (1989) (hereinafter "7 NYCRR"). Plaintiff's Exhibit B, Defendants' 3(g) Statement, P 9. As directed by the assistance sheet, plaintiff selected three people in the following order of preference: 1) G. Davis 2) R. Sweeney 3) S. Goldberg.

 On June 13, 1992, Sergeant Kelly, who was not designated by plaintiff on the assistance sheet, was assigned to aid inmate Lee. On that date, Sergeant Kelly visited plaintiff who was confined to his cell. She wrote on the assistance sheet "Inmate Lee would prefer to see one of the assistants he chose" and on the line where the inmate would ordinarily sign she wrote "refused to sign". Plaintiff's Exhibit B; Defendants' Exhibit F. There is no indication in the record that Sergeant Kelly did anything more to assist plaintiff to prepare his defense to the charges against him.

 A Tier III disciplinary hearing was convened by Hearing Officer Mahoney to consider the violations alleged in the Misbehavior Report. In the New York Prison System, Tier III disciplinary hearings, also known as Superintendent's hearings, are used for the review of the most serious violations of institutional rules. 7 NYCRR § 270.3 (1989). Plaintiff's disciplinary hearing commenced June 15, 1992 and ...


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