A reprise of a couple of motions I was forced to file to gain my release . . . . if not for these and some help from unexpected sources, I’m not posting blogs and transcribing hundreds of pages of writing to Scrivener/Word – I’m squashed in with 116 others in a small enclosure fighting with COs to get outside for an hour . . . . . .
I was held as a pre-trial detainee in MacDougall Walker Correctional in Suffield, CT. The conditions were distressingly simple: full lock-down, i.e., confinement to a cell for 21 hours a day. No access to the library (extensive at MacDougall), Chapel, mess hall, gym (very nice) outside basketball courts, vocational programs, computer classes, much more. All those were easily available to sentenced inmates for hours a day. In fact, sentenced inmates spent at least twelve hours a day outside their cells. The problem with this, of course, and I sincerely hope this requires no further explanation, is convicted inmates were treated better than those convicted of no crime, inside the same facility -simply put, it was better to be convicted than to rot in a cell fighting the charges.
I filed suit against the state in July 2007, after discovering the state had no intention of abiding by my pretrial plea agreement that offered a ‘global solution’ to the overlapping state and federal charges. The complaint is available on the US District Court, District of Connecticut website. The suit was finally served on the state actors in September, 2009 — which triggered the events as noted below.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
ROLAND R. HICKS, :
v. : Case No. 3:08-cv-1012 (MRK)
Theresa Lantz, et.al., :
Defendants. : February 5, 2010
Plaintiff’s Notification and Request
The plaintiff, Roland Hicks, submits the following for the Court’s consideration:
Hicks filed the initial complaint in July, 2008 while serving a prison sentence in Federal custody, the result of a ‘global resolution’ plea agreement between Connecticut and Federal authorities concerning overlapping charges – based on the same fact pattern – in both jurisdictions.
Hicks received a good conduct release from FMC Devens on February 25, 2009. Immediately upon discharge, in direct contravention of that agreement, Hicks was picked up by Connecticut authorities and returned to state incarceration. Hicks filed an amended petition on June 18, 2009 while awaiting the Court’s approval to proceed.
On September 1st, the Court issued its Initial Review Order ordering the defendants to answer the complaint by November 10th.
On November 18th, a representative from the State of Connecticut met with Hicks at Willard CI, stated that it was now acknowledged that the pre-trial plea agreement had not been adhered to and the state would agree to modify the sentence providing Hicks drop the instant action and a not unrelated State Habeas action. It was strongly suggested it would be best if Hicks took no future court action while awaiting discharge.
Hicks agreed, drafted the withdrawals for each matter and issued a letter stating he would bring no claims, appeals, or habeas actions arising from his arrest and incarceration(s) in the future.
Hicks waited for over five weeks before, finally, in the absence of further word concerning release, and with defendants’ ongoing failure to answer, he filed for default – unknowingly virtually simultaneously with defendants’ Request and Motion.
On January 8, 2010, Hicks received the Court’s denial of the default motion with the option of answering defendant’s motion or filing an amended complaint by January 25th. On January 14th, Hicks was again contacted, told his release was ‘imminent’; it would be a mistake to ‘step on toes’ at ‘this late date’, etc.
It should be noted by the Court – as it certainly is by State actors – Hicks has a wife and three children that are currently in financial straits; has not been home in four years, four months; had a myriad of opportunities lined up for his release from Federal prison twelve months ago, some of which may still be viable; and such concerns far outweigh the zeal, indeed, the will to litigate further in any forum.
In any event, the State of Connecticut has successfully manipulated Hicks’ very clear, very public priorities; Hicks now respectfully requests the Court to accept the reply to Defendants Request and Motion, due January 25th, that he withheld in anticipation of a resolution. [Attached].
Signed this 5th day of February, 2010
The same day the State received this they responded with a short, carefully worded motion denying the Attorney General’s Office had ‘ever contacted’ me about withdrawing, they did not deny knowing about a deal. They then demanded that I be compelled to name the ‘state actors’ that made the offer(s). The Court denied that request – which, to me, speaks volumes.
The Winning Motion (in my opinion)
The AG’s office motioned the Court to compel me to strike vast tracks of the complaint as being unfair, spurious, etc. This was my response to the inanity of it all. When the state, quickly, lost, this motion, I filed for Summary Judgment … we settled with my release, before that could be ruled on.
Plaintiff’s Reply to Motion to Strike
The plaintiff, Roland Hicks, respectfully responds to defendant’s Motion to Strike and Request That Plaintiff Amend Complaint filed December 16, 2009.
It appears the core of Defendant’s reply revolves around their perception Hicks did not “specify those conditions which he (italicized in the original) specifically endured and remove all other references to conditions which he did not endure. More specifically, in paragraphs 11 through 52, plaintiff alleges that the conditions under which he and other pre-trial detainees were held were more restrictive than those for convicted inmates” [pg. 3].
This is as inane as it is specious: Hicks clearly states in paragraph 19 he was held in the conditions cited from October 7, 2005 through September 19, 2006. Not only do he, obviously, experience “the restrictive” conditions imposed on pre-trial detainees, he filed grievances concerning those conditions while still experiencing them, As far as citing the conditions of convicted inmates as less restrictive, Hicks may assert them with certitude for, (1) After September 19, 2006 he was held post-conviction for over one month in the same facility under ‘less restrictive conditions’; (2) the MacDougall Walker 2005 Inmate Handbook, handed out to pre-trial detainees upon admission, clearly delineates inmate conditions, as well as the unacceptable behaviors by which inmates could be held in ‘closed custody’ like detainees. It is quoted almost verbatim in paragraphs 19, 21,k 24-28; (3) since his unexpected, unwilling return to Connecticut custody Hicks is uniquely qualified to describe conditions for convicted inmates; (4) ‘R-Pod’ was run as a ‘punishment’, ‘closed custody’ unit, it is ridiculous to assert individuals held in such conditions enjoy any of the rights and privileges of those not held thusly, else it would not be a punishment to be so confined.
In short, per the defendants’’ motion, were Hicks to amend the complaint to excise conditions ‘he did not endure’ italicized in the original, a curious choice of verb for defendants to employ), the complaint would be no shorter.
As a matter of form Hicks strongly objects to defendants’ quote form Salahaddin (cited page 3): “the ‘unnecessary prolixity in [plaintiff’s 33 page, 113 count[sic] complaint] places an unfair burden on the court and the party who must respond to it because they are force to select the relevant material from a mass of verbiage’”.
Hicks does not enjoy access to legal materials and cannot definitively support his hunch, but it would be a coincidence of Dickensian proportions if the complaint in Salahaddin was also 33 pages and 113 paragraphs (defense misstates, perhaps in error, Hicks’ complaint is 113 paragraphs long, not 113 counts, a significant misstatement, a significant difference from Hicks’ 9 causes of action).
Beyond this perhaps semantic point, unless a “surfeit of detail” and/or “pestilential” are defined as the accurate, systematic recitation of the conditions the State of Connecticut holds pretrial detainees under, the defendants’ objections have no merit.
If the list is extensive, it is because such were (are) the differences between the confinement of detainees and inmates at MacDougall-Walker.
There is, unfortunately, no ‘repetition’ in that recitation. In reading defendants’ motion Hicks is reminded of Dr. Johnson’s admonition, “I have found you an argument, but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.”
Further, if the defendants lack the empathy to anticipate or understand the emotional and physical distress inflicted by holding anyone – never mind one convicted of no crime – in lock down conditions for almost a year, they should endeavor to be educated through the discovery process, not the more public forum of a complaint. Aside that point, if the mere allegation of emotional distress is “impertinent and scandalous” what would a recitation of physical and mental ailments be?
Lastly, defendants state “nowhere does plaintiff make reference to having benefited from a ‘global resolution’ … (pg. 4) Hicks is unaware the Constitutional guarantees of Due Process, Equal Protection, and the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment are dependant on the final disposition of a case.
Moreover, as is clear from the complaint and ancillary paperwork, Hicks most emphatically has not benefitted (nor does he infer he did) from the ‘global resolution’. As the AG’s office, appearing here for the defendants despite the fact they are being sued solely in their individual capacities, is involved in Hicks’ State habeas claim, one would assume they are very much aware of that fact.
Hicks, therefore, feels the complaint sufficient, certainly answerable, defendants request and motion solely motivated by the understandable reluctance to admit the punishment pod conditions imposed on pre-trial detainees.
Should, however, the Court decide an amended complaint is in order in light of the dismissals noted in its Initial Review Order and as the defendants raised the issue of the ‘global resolution’ plea agreement, Hicks requests the Court’s permission to include Susan Hankins, at least in as much as she was aware of the MacDougal conditions, ignored them, used them in such manner as to contravene his right to Due Process, and Hicks continues to suffer harm as a result of her actions and omissions. If necessary, in the Court’s opinion, Hicks will forgo the State claims of negligence.
Signed this 5th day of February, 2010.