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Williams v. Commissioners NYSDOC

March 2, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frank Maas, United States Magistrate Judge.



Pro se petitioner Jomo Williams ("Williams") has filed two habeas petitions challenging separate convictions in Westchester County for which he presently is serving an aggregate indeterminate sentence of five and one-half to eleven years. Interspersed among the habeas claims in his prolix papers are various civil rights claims against the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services and the Superintendent of Upstate Correctional Facility ("Upstate") (together, the "Defendants"). Williams alleges that, since he began to serve his sentences, prison officials have abused and tortured him, through such actions as depriving him of food and medical care, assaulting him, and obstructing his ongoing litigation efforts. The Defendants have moved to dismiss these civil rights claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. For the reasons set forth below, to the extent Williams' pleadings attempt to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, both of the cases should be dismissed. This disposition will leave pending before the Court all of the claims that Williams asserts in support of his habeas petitions.

I. Background A. Amended Petitions

Following an earlier dismissal, Williams filed two amended habeas petitions on September 18, 2008. (See Docket No. 7 (both cases)). In the papers attached to these petitions, Williams alleges numerous civil rights abuses relating to his imprisonment. The supporting papers accompanying the petitions are identical, although they vary slightly in the order in which they are annexed. For the sake of clarity, I have taken the liberty of numbering the pages attached to both petitions. Additionally, whenever I cite to "Pet. Attach. _," I am referring to the 153 pages of papers attached to the petition filed under Docket No. 07 Civ. 5514.

In his petitions, Williams alleges that prison officials have "abused" and "tortured" him. (Pet. Attach. 7, 76, 90-91, 111). More specifically, he alleges that prison staff have poisoned his food and "chemically assaulted" him (id. at 7, 12, 15, 87); interfered with his Ramadan celebrations (id. at 87); and denied him access to copiers, legal books, and paper and obstructed his mail, thereby interfering with his ongoing litigation (id. at 7, 88, 90-91, 116, 131). Additionally, Williams complains that he has spent the vast majority of his imprisonment in solitary confinement without just cause. (Id. at 7, 90).

Williams also alleges that he received inadequate medical care at Upstate. (Id. at 94, 97-98, 100). His allegations in that regard focus on a skin condition, lack of HIV and other blood tests, lack of access to outside doctors, an upper respiratory condition, and the denial of needed eyeglasses. (Id.).

Williams alleges that prison staff also have engaged in a concerted effort to "sever" his ties to his family. The actions that they allegedly have taken include blocking his access to the telephone and mail, denying his family bus tickets to visit him, and denying his requests for temporary release and parole. (Id. at 87, 90-91).

Williams also gives a detailed summary of "staff involvement" in a "prison hit" that allegedly occurred at Upstate in 2008. (Id. at 12, 15).

Finally, Williams alleges that the actions taken against him have been in retaliation for his legal and political activities, and were further motivated by greed, discrimination, slander, libel, misnomers, mischaracterizations, stereotyping, ignorance, malice, and "defective thoughts." (Id. at 7, 12, 15, 76, 88, 90-91, 111-12).

B. Telephone Conference

Because it was unclear why Williams had filed two petitions, in December 2008 I ordered the Office of the Westchester County District Attorney ("County") to arrange a telephone conference with Williams and a representative of the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York ("State") to ascertain why Williams had filed two separate petitions and whether he also intended to allege civil rights violations. (See No. 07 Civ. 5514, Docket No. 11).

That conference eventually was held on March 17, 2009. During the conference, Williams explained that his petitions addressed two separate convictions arising out of separate actual or attempted burglaries and that he also intended to raise civil rights claims concerning his imprisonment.*fn1 (Id. at 4, 15). The State and County asked that Williams be required to separate his Section 1983 and habeas claims into two separate pleadings, but I denied that request based upon the Second Circuit's decision in Thompson v. Choinski, 525 F.3d 205, 210 (2d Cir. 2008), which permits a hybrid habeas/Section 1983 pleading. (Id. at 18). Instead, I directed the State and County to respond separately to ...

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