Vandever v. Murphy et al
ORDER: The plaintiff's motion for assistance 108 is denied without prejudice. See attached ruling 5 pages. Signed by Judge Donna F. Martinez on 8/27/13. (Constantine, A.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
PETER MURPHY, et al.,
RULING ON MOTION FOR ASSISTANCE
The plaintiff, a Connecticut inmate proceeding pro se, brings
Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) employees. He complains
that the defendants retaliated against him because he was involved
in litigation, deprived him of due process and denied him equal
Pending before the court is the plaintiff's "motion
for assistance in identifying a prisoner witness."
The motion is denied without prejudice.
In order to place the motion in context, the court reviews
some of the factual background.
The plaintiff stands convicted of numerous serious offenses
including murder, kidnaping, robbery and escape from a maximum
As a result, he was on "high-security" while
incarcerated at McDougall.
In February 2008, the plaintiff was
about to begin trial in a state civil action which named certain
DOC officials (including one of the defendants in this case).
confidential tip that the plaintiff had been asking questions about
the operations of the loading dock and trash procedures.
plaintiff also supposedly asked his former cell mate, Inmate
Savage, to notify him when he got a job called the "trash run."
Prison officials took the informant's tip seriously and were
concerned that the plaintiff was involved in another escape plot.
They investigated further.
Inside plaintiff's cell, prison officials found contraband,
including a road atlas and a boarding pass from a magazine.
plaintiff denied asking about trash procedures or posing other
questions which would suggest an escape plot.
He was put in
restrictive housing and deprived of his legal papers.
recommended. Two weeks later, the plaintiff was transferred out of
Discovery has been prolonged and disputatious.
Defendants resisted much of it, including anything
that they believed would lead to disclosure of the identity of
their tipster. The plaintiff finally obtained some information "by
his own wiles."
(Doc. #108 at 2.)
The defendants label such
disclosure unauthorized and "inadvertent."
(Doc. #114 at 2-3.)
Discovery is now closed.
The parties filed their joint trial
memorandum and the case is trial ready.
In anticipation of trial, the plaintiff filed the instant
He explains that his former cell mate, Inmate Savage, was
interviewed by the DOC and could offer testimony favorable to the
Plaintiff wants to call Savage as a witness at
trial, but cannot remember his first name.
He asks the court to
order the defendants to provide Inmate Savage's first name and
inmate number so that the plaintiff can subpoena him to testify at
The defendants object, citing security concerns.
that the DOC does not disclose the identity of inmates who give
them information because such disclosure would threaten the safety
and security of informants, and would present "a long term danger
to the safety and security of all DOC facilities."
(Doc. #114 at
See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 568–69 (1974)(the need
of prison administrators to protect the identities of witnesses due
to compelling interests in inmate safety and prison security is
well-established); Edmonson v. Coughlin, 21 F. Supp.2d 242, 252
Savage was first mentioned in the plaintiff's complaint. It
appears from the plaintiff's filing that he received more
information about his former cell mate through the documents he
obtained on his own, information that defendants objected to
informant's testimony to an accused inmate in a disciplinary
In support of their claim, the defendants submit the
affidavits of Warden Peter Murphy and Commissioner James Dzurenda
who aver that identification of an inmate who assisted the DOC in
any manner could lead to injury of the witness at the hands of
other inmates and that such disclosure would impair the ability of
DOC to conduct future investigations.
(Doc. #114, exs. A, B.)
He maintains that Inmate Savage was an alleged co-
conspirator in the supposed plot, not the DOC's informant.
argues that Savage's testimony is exculpatory2 and corroborates the
plaintiff's version of events.
The plaintiff also asserts that
Inmate Savage's testimony is relevant because he was treated
differently from the plaintiff in that he was not placed in
The parties discuss the pending motion as a discovery request.
The papers reveal otherwise.
The plaintiff asks the court's
defendants object not only to giving any information that might aid
The plaintiff suggests that the defendants' failure to
disclose inmate Savage's identity is a violation of Brady v.
Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The plaintiff's reliance on Brady v.
Maryland is misplaced. The duty to disclose exculpatory evidence
pursuant to Brady v. Maryland applies to criminal prosecutions. It
is inapplicable here. See United States v. Ataya, 145 Fed. Appx.
331, 333 n. 2, 2005 WL 1371319, at *2 n. 2 (11th Cir.2005); Miles
v. City of Pittsburgh, No. 10–1135, 2011 WL 3957388, at *3 (W.D. Pa
Sept. 6, 2011).
the plaintiff in getting the witness to trial, but apparently also
object to plaintiff offering any testimony from the witness.
making that argument, the defendants call on the court to determine
the admissibility of evidence.
The undersigned does not wish to
Evidentiary rulings should be reserved for the trial
To the extent that the defendants ask for an order which
would have the effect of an in limine ruling, it is denied without
prejudice. As for the plaintiff's request for aid in producing the
witness, it is also denied without prejudice.
If plaintiff wishes
to subpoena the witness, he may raise the issue with the trial
SO ORDERED at Hartford, Connecticut this 27th day of August,
Donna F. Martinez
United States Magistrate Judge
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