Ruffin v. Mooney et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re 1 Complaint filed by David Ruffin (PLEASE SEE MEMORANDUM FOR COMPLETE DETAILS)Signed by Honorable Malachy E Mannion on 1/31/17. (lh)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:16-1987
SUPERINTENDENT V. MOONEY, et al., :
Plaintiff, David Ruffin, an inmate at the Retreat State Correctional
Institution, Hunlock Creek (“SCI-Retreat”), Pennsylvania, filed the above
captioned civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. (Doc. 1, complaint). He
claims that his maximum sentence date was June 14, 2016, and that due to the
fact that he was charged with institutional misconducts, he is “stuck in the RHU
on disciplinary custody until June of 2018.” Id. To date he claims that he has “not
had an opportunity to be heard by Parole and no reason give for Parole
He further claims that on June 6, 2016, he was transferred to SCI-Retreat
from SCI-Dallas “as an D-Stability prisoner” because he “suffers from a mental
impairment consisting of emotional illness.” Id. However, once at SCI-Dallas, he
was “denied participation in D-Stability services for cussing at PA O’Brien.” Id.
Thus, Plaintiff filed the instant action seeking “to be seen and heard by
Parole Board in a parole hearing” to determine whether “or not [he is] housed in
the RHU undergoing DC time or to be released from the DOC for early release”
as well as “to be re-examined for D-Stability programming or to be placed in DStability programming.” Id.
Along with the filing of his complaint, Ruffin submitted an application to
proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. §1915. (Doc. 2).
A court must dismiss, at the earliest practicable time, certain in forma
pauperis and prisoner actions that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim,
or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See
28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions); 28 U.S.C. §1915A (actions
in which prisoner seeks redress from a governmental defendant); 42 U.S.C.
§1997e (prisoner actions brought with respect to prison conditions). Because
Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his complaint,
“however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The
Court has conducted an initial screening of Plaintiff’s complaint, and for the
reasons set forth below, Plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be
granted, and the Plaintiff’s complaint will be dismissed as legally frivolous.
In order to state a viable section 1983 claim, a plaintiff must plead two
essential elements: (1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a
person acting under color of state law, and (2) that said conduct deprived the
plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States. Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 638 (3d Cir.
1995); Shaw by Strain v. Strackhouse, 920 F.2d 1135, 1141-42 (3d Cir. 1990).
“To establish liability for deprivation of a constitutional right under §1983, a party
must show personal involvement by each defendant.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 676-77 (2009) (“Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens and
§1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant,
through the official’s own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”)); see
Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010).
With respect to Plaintiff’s request for a parole hearing or to be released
from confinement1, it is well-settled that prisoners cannot use §1983 to challenge
To the extent that Plaintiff seeks to be released on parole, the Constitution does
not by itself give a convict a liberty interest in parole protected by the Fourteenth
Amendment. Greenholtz v. Nebraska Penal Inmates, 442 U.S. 1 (1979); Thorpe
the fact or duration of their confinement or to seek immediate or speedier
release. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973). Although a writ of habeas
corpus is not explicitly raised in Plaintiff’s filings, to the extent that Ruffin seeks
release, a person in state custody may file an application for a writ of habeas
corpus challenging the fact or length of his confinement under section 2254. 28
U.S.C. §2254. “Congress has determined that habeas corpus is the appropriate
remedy for state prisoners attacking the validity of the fact or length of their
confinement, and that specific determination must override the general terms of
§1983.” Preiser, 411 U.S. at 499 (determining that challenges to the fact or
duration of physical confinement, or seeking an immediate or speedier release
from that confinement is the heart of habeas corpus); Leamer v. Fauver, 288
F.3d 532, 542 (3d Cir. 2002) (holding, “when the challenge is to a condition of
confinement such that a finding in plaintiff’s favor would not alter his sentence or
undo his conviction, an action under §1983 is appropriate”). Consequently, to the
extent Plaintiff is seeking habeas relief pursuant to section 2254, his complaint
v. Gillo 80 Fed. Appx. 215, 219 (3d Cir.2003). While the states may create a
liberty interest under the Fourteenth Amendment, the Pennsylvania parole
statute does not create a liberty interest in the right to be paroled. Burkett v.
Love, 89 F.3d 135, 139 (3d Cir. 1996); Rodgers v. Parole Agent SCI- Frackville,
Wech, 916 F. Supp 474, 476-77 (E.D. Pa. 1996); McCrery v. Mark, 823 F. Supp.
288, 294 (E.D. Pa. 1993). The Board has complete discretion to grant or deny
parole, without constraint from any particularized substantive predicates. See
61 Pa. C.S.A. §331.21.
will be dismissed without prejudice.
Moreover, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to “be placed in D-Stability
programming”, it is well established that prisoners have no inherent constitutional
right to placement in any particular prison, to any security or custody
classification, or to any particular housing assignment. See Olim v. Wakinekona,
461 U.S. 238, 245 (1983); Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88, (1976); Montanye
v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236, 242 (1976). Thus, inmates do not have a liberty
interest in retaining or receiving any particular security or custody status “[a]s
long as the [challenged] conditions or degree of confinement is within the
sentence imposed ... and is not otherwise violative of the Constitution.” Id. As
such, Plaintiff’s complaint will be dismissed.
In light of the foregoing, the above captioned action, filed pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §1983, will be DISMISSED, without prejudice, as legally frivolous under
28 U.S.C. §1915(e)2(B)(i), and the case will be CLOSED. An appropriate order
s/ Malachy E. Mannion
MALACHY E. MANNION
United States District Judge
Dated: January 31, 2017
O:\Mannion\shared\MEMORANDA - DJ\CIVIL MEMORANDA\2016 MEMORANDA\16-1987-01.wpd
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