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Due Process: Farid v. Ellen

By: Daily Record Staff//February 1, 2010

Due Process: Farid v. Ellen

By: Daily Record Staff//February 1, 2010

Due Process
Prison Prohibitions — Vagueness

Farid v. Ellen
Appealed from the Southern District of New York

Background: Plaintiff Mujahid Farid filed a Section 1983 claim against the defendants, all of whom are state prison officials at either Woodbourne Correctional Facility or the Clinton Correctional Facility, asserting six claims for relief: first, due process and state law violations based on the filing and conduct of a disciplinary hearing; second, First Amendment violations based on disciplinary actions resulting from his possession and distribution of a booklet called “The Politics of Parole”; third, constitutional and state law violations based on the seizure of documents related to “The Politics of Parole”; fourth, constitutional violations arising out of his transfer to another facility while he was undergoing medical treatment; fifth, constitutional and state law violations arising out of the alleged deprivation of follow-up medical treatment; and sixth, constitutional violations arising from a prison transfer that disrupted a scheduled trial. A few of the claims were dismissed and the current cross-appeals followed.

Ruling: The court agrees with the district court’s determination that prison prohibitions on “smuggling” and “contraband” were unconstitutionally vague as applied to Farid, who was disciplined under prison rules for possessing and distributing a pamphlet produced in violation of the internal by-laws of a prisoners’ organization. The district court’s grant of summary judgment with regard to the defendants’ qualified immunity in the application of those rules is vacated. The court affirms in all other respects. On remand, the court also asks the district court to determine whether Farid adequately pleaded a separate retaliation claim.

Meghann E. Donahue of Covington & Burling LLP for the appellant, and Sasha Samberg-Champion, assistant New York State Attorney General, for the appellees

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