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Jones v. Smith

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 27, 2015

ANTONIO JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH T. SMITH, Superintendent, Shawangunk Corr. Facility; GARDNER, Lt., Shawangunk Corr. Facility; ALBERT PACK, Director of Special Housing, N.Y.S. DOCCS; and JAMES ESGROW, Hearing Officer, Southport Corr. Facility, Defendants.

ANTONIO JONES, Plaintiff, Pro Se. Elmira, New York.

HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, JAMES B. McGOWAN, ESQ., Assistant Attorney General, Attorney General for the State of New York, Albany, New York, Counsel for Defendants.

DECISION and ORDER

GLENN T. SUDDABY, District Judge.

Currently before the Court, in this pro se prisoner civil rights action filed by Antonio Jones ("Plaintiff") against the four above-captioned New York State correctional employees ("Defendants"), are United States Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles' Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion to dismiss the remaining claims in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), and Plaintiff's Objections to the Report-Recommendation. (Dkt. Nos. 45, 50.) For the reasons set forth below, Magistrate Judge Peebles' Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety, and Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is dismissed.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

Following the Court's Decision and Order of June 23, 2014, all of the claims asserted in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint were dismissed except the following: Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process claims against Defendants Gardner, Smith, Prack and Esgrow arising from the two disciplinary hearings conducted regarding the May 2011 inmate misbehavior report that Plaintiff received. (Dkt. Nos. 26, 20.) Familiarity with the factual allegations supporting these claims in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties.

B. Magistrate Judge Peebles' Report-Recommendation

Generally, in his Report-Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Peebles rendering the following two findings and conclusions: (1) because a New York State court determined in an Article 78 proceeding that Plaintiff's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment were not violated during his first disciplinary hearing, and because Plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate those due process issues in that proceeding, he is collaterally estopped from reasserting that claim in this action; and (2) because Plaintiff has failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting that he was deprived of a protected liberty interest in his second disciplinary hearing (but merely received a sentence of time served followed by an expungement), he has failed to state a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim with regard to that hearing. (Dkt. No. 45, at Part III.) Familiarity with the particular finding and conclusions in Magistrate Judge Peebles' Report-Recommendation is assumed in this Decision and Order, which (again) is intended primarily for review by the parties.

C. Plaintiff's Objections

Generally, the arguments asserted in Plaintiff's Objections may be organized into two groups. (Dkt. No. 50.)

First, Plaintiff argues, Magistrate Judge Peebles erred in recommending the dismissal of Plaintiff's due process claims arising from his first disciplinary hearing, because (a) the Article 78 court erred in finding that Defendant Gardner had a good faith reason for denying Plaintiff's request to call IG Investigator Gessner testify (given Plaintiff's hearing testimony that Gessner had confiscated and returned the photographs to Plaintiff, and Gardner's access to "facility records" confirming that fact), (b) Magistrate Judge Peebles omitted from consideration Plaintiff's claim that Gardner's decision was unsupported by substantial evidence, (c) the Article 78 court erred in finding that Plaintiff had not demonstrated how he needed the DOCS memorandum to marshal a meaningful defense, and (d) Plaintiff's failure to perfect an appeal does not serve as evidence that he had a full and fair opportunity to litigate his claims in state court (given that the failure was prompted merely by the victory he obtained in an underlying administrative proceeding). (Dkt. No. 50, at ¶¶ 37-67.)

Second, Plaintiff argues, Magistrate Judge Peebles erred in recommending the dismissal of Plaintiff's due process claims arising from his second disciplinary hearing, because (a) the only reason Defendant Esgrow did not impose a greater penalty on Plaintiff at the rehearing is that 7 N.Y.C.R.R. § 254.8(d) provides that the penalty imposed at the new hearing may not exceed the penalty imposed at the original hearing, and (b) the fact that the same rights that were violated at the first hearing were violated at the second hearing show that "the violations of ...


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