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Ahlers v. Boruch

July 16, 2007

KARL AHLERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS BORUCH, FACILITY PAROLE OFFICER, ARTHUR KILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge

FOR ONLINE PUBLICATION ONLY

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This is my second decision in this pro se action by Karl Ahlers pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On June 1, 2004, I dismissed all the claims in the initial complaint except the claim that Ahlers's incarceration beyond his conditional release date*fn1 deprived him of liberty in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Docket Entry 6 ("2004 Order"). I assume familiarity with that decision.

Ahlers subsequently filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint alleges that the defendant denied Ahlers due process because he (1) delayed Ahlers's eligibility for conditional release by not timely removing an alcohol-treatment special condition from the release application; and (2) delayed Ahlers's conditional release date by failing to investigate proposed residences, failing to inform Ahlers in writing of his decisions about proposed residences, applying unwritten standards for reaching such decisions, applying residency conditions to Ahlers's release before those conditions were approved by the Board of Parole, and applying residency conditions not included in Ahlers's conditional release agreement.*fn2

Ahlers seeks injunctive relief requiring the defendant and the Bureau of Prisons (a) "to follow written criteria and to consider Plaintiff's releas[e] from physical restraint to parole supervision in light of the CR agreement;" (b) "to henceforth use legal, constitutional criteria when considering a prisoner for c.r. to parole supervision;" and (c) "to inform [a] prisoner, in writing, of their decision and the reasons therefor." Am. Compl. 4. Ahlers also seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Defendant moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. The motion is granted for the reasons set forth below.

BACKGROUND

In 1982, Ahlers was sentenced to an indeterminate prison term of fifteen to thirty years.*fn3 He was denied discretionary parole release three times before his conditional release date. In April 2002, the Board of Parole prepared an application for Ahlers's anticipated conditional release on June 11, 2002, the date when the sum of Ahlers's good-time credits became identical to the length of the unserved portion of his sentence. See N.Y. Penal Law § 70.40(1)(b). The Board included in the application the special conditions that Ahlers participate in drug and alcohol treatment programs, if so ordered. Ahlers objected to these conditions. He refused to sign the application and challenged the conditions in state court in July 2002. That petition was denied in March 2003, and the denial was affirmed. See Ahlers v. N.Y. State Div. of Parole, 767 N.Y.S.2d 289 (3d Dep't 2003). In April and May 2003, Ahlers was again denied discretionary release, because he refused to appear before the Board. The May 6, 2003 denial omitted the alcohol-treatment condition from Ahlers's conditional release.

On July 8 and July 15, 2003, Ahlers asked for help finding housing for his release, indicating he was prepared to sign a conditional release agreement. Ahlers wrote the defendant on July 17, 2003 to request a meeting to sign the agreement. The two met on July 21, 2003, and the defendant advised Ahlers that his release would be subject to residential restrictions. There followed a lengthy period of disagreement between the two about the suitability of certain residences. In a letter dated July 21, 2003, Ahlers informed the defendant that he did not want to live in Ulster County, and suggested a facility called "Ready Willing and Able." The drug counseling program at Arthur Kill judged this facility unsuitable.

On March 29, 2004, Ahlers signed a conditional release agreement. That document did not include an alcohol-treatment condition. Between March and May 2004, the defendant determined that three other facilities, two of which were suggested by Ahlers in his letter, would not be suitable either. Three other organizations were contacted in June 2004, but the record does not reflect the result of those efforts. On June 25, 2004, special conditions of release were imposed on Ahlers, requiring him to propose a residence for Board approval, to help the Board in its efforts to locate a residence, and to live only in the residence approved by the Board. Ahlers was transferred to another facility in July 2004; disagreement as to suitable residence continued.

In October 2004, Ahlers challenged the imposition of residential conditions for his conditional release in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed in New York State Supreme Court, Dutchess County. The petition was denied on February 24, 2005. Ahlers v. Mazzuca, No. 5001/04 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Feb. 24, 2005) (Brands, J.). A suitable residence was found in November 2005, and Ahlers was released from custody.

DISCUSSION

Ahlers argues the defendant violated the Due Process Clause in two ways.*fn4 First, he claims that the defendant denied him due process by refusing to remove the alcohol-treatment condition from his conditional release agreement until March 29, 2004, even though the Board of Parole had already omitted that condition in its May 6, 2003 decision. Second, he claims that the procedure by which the defendant imposed certain residential conditions that delayed his release until after he signed his conditional release agreement on March 29, 2004 did not afford him due process of law. I conclude that both arguments are without merit.

A. Standard of Review

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party must demonstrate that no genuine issue exists as to any material fact. Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. P'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994). For summary judgment purposes, a fact is "material" when its resolution "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue is "genuine" when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. Accordingly, the test for whether an issue is genuine requires "the inferences to ...


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