This pro se inmate claim proceeded to trial on April 30, 2009. Claimant
alleges that while incarcerated at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility in August
2004 Correction Officer Pierce intentionally destroyed his family photographs
and issued unfounded misbehavior reports. Claimant alleges that this officer
acted in retaliation for the claimant's rejection of a prior sexual advance,
various grievances the claimant had filed against this officer and his testimony
at a hearing on behalf of another inmate against Correction Officer Pierce.
At trial claimant testified that Correction Officer Pierce planted a weapon in
another inmate's cell and observed claimant waiting to testify at a disciplinary
hearing on behalf of the inmate. The next day, Correction Officer Pierce
searched claimant's cell and confiscated his family photographs. Claimant
complained regarding the confiscation of his photographs and Correction Officer
Pierce issued two misbehavior reports shortly thereafter.
On cross-examination the claimant testified that at the time of his transfer
from Bare Hill Correctional Facility to Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility he
possessed the photographs.
Exhibits 1 through 7 were received in evidence on the claimant's behalf.
Exhibit 1 consists of an undated mail list with cell
Exhibit 2 consists of correspondence from the claimant dated September 26,
2004, September 27, 2004, September 28, 2004, September 30, 2004 and October 8,
2004 regarding Correction Officer Pierce's alleged retaliatory conduct and the
destruction of his photographs. Notably the only mention of a sexual advance
by Correction Officer Pierce was in the correspondence dated September 30, 2004
and October 8, 2004.
Exhibit 3 is a response to the claimant's grievance. With respect to the
claimant's allegation of a homosexual advance by Correction Officer Pierce, the
response indicates that claimant admitted to the investigating officer that he
"made it up". With respect to the claimant's accusations of retaliation by
Correction Officer Pierce the response indicates that "[i]t appears this
grievance is in retaliation for the Misbehavior Reports Officer Pierce wrote on
Exhibit 4 is the inmate misbehavior report dated September 30, 2004 issued by
Correction Officer Pierce in which the claimant was charged with creating a
disturbance, harassment, and untidy cell or person. Following a Tier II
disciplinary hearing claimant was found guilty of the charges. On appeal to the
Superintendent the findings were modified to the extent of dismissing the charge
regarding the untidy cell. Also included as part of Exhibit 4 is a misbehavior
report dated October 7, 2004 issued by Correction Officer Pierce in which
claimant was again charged with harassment. Claimant was again found guilty of
Exhibit 5 is a Personal Property Transferred form dated June 16, 2004
reflecting claimant's personal property which was transferred from Bare Hill
Correctional Facility to Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility. Photographs are
not among the items of personal property
Defendant called Sergeant David St. Louis to testify at trial. Sergeant St.
Louis has been employed at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility for 25 years and
was assigned to investigate the claimant's grievance regarding the alleged
retaliatory conduct by Correction Officer Pierce. The witness testified that
the claimant admitted that he "made up" the story about Correction Officer
Pierce making a sexual advance toward him. Regarding the claimant's
photographs, the witness testified that there is no proof that the claimant
possessed the photographs or that they were destroyed by Correction Officer
Pierce. Received in Evidence as Exhibit A are the grievance documents filed by
the claimant and the investigation conducted in response. Review of Exhibit A
reveals that it was the conclusion of the investigating officers that the
claimant's grievance lacked merit and was in retaliation for the issuance of
misbehavior reports by Correction Officer Pierce.
On cross-examination the witness testified that Correction Officer Pierce
denied the allegations claimant made against him in writing. He testified that
he spoke with the claimant during the course of his investigation and the
claimant indicated that there were no witnesses to Correction Officer Pierce
taking his photographs. The witness testified that he did not interview the
inmates in the cells adjoining the claimant's as the claimant did not list any
witnesses in his grievance.
This concluded the trial.
As the trier of fact charged with assessing the credibility of the witnesses
and evaluating the evidence, the Court finds that claimant failed to meet his
burden of establishing by a preponderance of the credible evidence that
Correction Officer Pierce destroyed his photographs or otherwise acted in a
retaliatory manner. Other than the claimant's testimony, there is no evidence
that Correction Officer Pierce confiscated or destroyed the claimant's family
photographs or fabricated misbehavior reports. Indeed, claimant was found
guilty of the charges filed against him with the exception of the charge
relating to the untidy cell. Moreover, claimant's admission to Sergeant St.
Louis that he fabricated the story regarding Correction Officer Pierce's sexual
advance undermines his credibility. As there is no independent evidence of the
conduct complained of, the Court finds the evidence presented at trial
insufficient to support the allegations in the claim.
Accordingly, the claim is dismissed. Let judgment be entered accordingly.