United States District Court, D. Connecticut
DANIEL J.A. WEBB, Plaintiff,
LEO ARNONE, et al., Defendants.
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
J.A. Webb-a prisoner currently incarcerated at Northern
Correctional Institution (“Northern”)-has filed a
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101
et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C.
§ 794, against current and former Commissioners of
Correction Leo Arnone, James Dzurenda, Brian Murphy, and
Scott Semple; current and former Wardens Eduardo Maldonado,
Anne Cournoyer, and William Mulligan; and District
Administrator/Warden Angel Quiros. Webb also seeks the
appointment of pro bono counsel.
Complaint [Doc. No. 1]
section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I must
review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of
the complaint that is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Although detailed allegations
are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts
to afford the defendants “fair notice” of the
claims and grounds upon which they are based and to
“raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007). “Conclusory” allegations are not
sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is
well-established that “[p]ro se
complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted
to raise the strongest arguments that they
suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d
399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau
of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see
also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir.
2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro
April 25, 2012, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law An
Act Revising the Penalty for Capital Felonies, which
prospectively repealed the death penalty for capital felonies
committed after its enactment. See P.A. No. 12-5.
For prisoners who had been sentenced to death prior to April
25, 2012, and whose sentences were subsequently
“reduced to a sentence of life imprisonment without the
possibility of release by a court of competent jurisdiction,
” the act provided that the Commissioner of Correction
“shall place [the] inmate on special circumstances high
security status and house the inmate in administrative
segregation until a reclassification process is
completed.” See Id. at § 37(a) (codified
at Conn. Gen. Stat. § 18-10b(a)). The act also directed
the Commissioner to “establish a reclassification
process” that would “include an assessment of the
risk a [former death row] inmate . . . poses to staff and
other inmates, ” as well as “an assessment of
whether such risk requires the inmate's placement in
administrative segregation or protective custody.”
See Id. at § 37(b) (codified at Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 18-10b(b) & (c)). The act required
“[t]he commissioner [to] place such inmate in a housing
unit for the maximum security population if, after completion
of such reclassification process, the commissioner determines
such placement is appropriate, ” and to subject the
inmate to “conditions of confinement which shall
include, but not be limited to, ” the following:
(i) that the inmate's movements be escorted or monitored,
(ii) movement of the inmate to a new cell at least every
(iii) at least two searches of the inmate's cell each
(iv) that no contact be permitted during the inmate's
(v) that the inmate be assigned to work assignments that are
within the assigned housing unit, and (vi) that the inmate be
allowed no more than two hours of recreational activity per
Id. at § 37(c)(1) (codified at Conn. Gen. Stat.
§ 18-10b(c)(1)). Finally, the statute directed
“[t]he commissioner [to] conduct an annual review of
such inmate's conditions of confinement within such
housing unit, ” and permitted the commissioner
“for compelling correctional management or safety
reasons” to “modify any condition of
confinement.” Id. at § 37(c)(2).
August 25, 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court concluded that
“following the enactment of P.A. 12-5,
Connecticut's capital punishment scheme no longer
comport[ed] with [the] state's contemporary standards of
decency” and “no longer serve[d] any legitimate
penological goal.” State v. Santiago, 318
Conn. 1, 86, 118 (2015). As a result, capital punishment
“offend[ed] the state constitutional prohibition
against excessive and disproportionate punishment” and
“violate[d] article first, [sections] 8 and 9, of the
Connecticut constitution.” Id. at 86, 119.
Therefore, the Court held that “the state constitution
no longer permit[ted] the execution of individuals sentenced
to death for crimes committed prior to the enactment of P.A.
12-5.” Id. at 14-15.
same day that Santiago was issued, Webb and other
prisoners sent written requests to former Warden Cournoyer
asking to be removed from the restrictive conditions imposed
on them as death row inmates. See Compl., Doc. No.
1, at ¶ 9. Former Warden Cournoyer informed Webb that
prison officials would reclassify him in accordance with
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 18-10b after Webb had been
re-sentenced to a term of life without the possibility of
release. See Id. at ¶ 10.
26, 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court concluded that the
death penalty was unconstitutional as applied to Webb,
reversed the judgment of the Superior Court denying
Webb's petition for writ of habeas corpus, and remanded
the case with instructions to grant the petition and to
resentence Webb accordingly. See Webb v. Comm'r of
Corr., 322 Conn. 187, 191 (2016) (per curiam). On
September 9, 2016, the Superior Court resentenced Webb to a
term of life without the possibility of release. See
Compl., Doc. No. 1, at ¶ 12.
September 22, 2016, former Warden Mulligan informed Webb that
there would be no change in his classification and that he
would remain on restraint status and subject to the same
conditions of confinement to which he had previously been
subject as a death row inmate. See Id. at ¶ 15.
On December 1, 2016, the Director of Classification and
Population Management informed Webb that the reclassification
process pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 18-10b was
complete, and that he would remain on special circumstances
high security status. See Id. at ¶ 18.
claims that two other former death row inmates were
reclassified in August 2015 and transferred out of state to
serve their sentences. See Id. at ¶ 11. He
contends that the conditions of confinement in the
out-of-state prisons are significantly less restrictive.
See Id. Webb believes that two more former death row
inmates were reclassified in October 2016 and removed from
special circumstances status. See Id. at ¶ 16.
Under their new classification status, both inmates were
permitted to move outside of their cells without restraints.
See Id. at ¶ 17.
January 21, 2017, Webb wrote to Commissioner Semple and
former Warden Mulligan seeking to be removed from special
circumstances high security status and, in particular, the
restraint requirements of that status. See Id. at
¶ 20. Webb did not receive a response from Commissioner
Semple. See id.
February 1, 2017, Webb received a copy of his classification
review, which indicated that he would remain on special
circumstances status because of his prior violent behavior.
See Id. at ¶ 21. On February 7, 2017, former
Warden Mulligan informed Webb that he was being treated
differently from other former death row inmates because of
his prior violent behavior. See Id. at ¶ 22.
has repeatedly submitted grievances challenging his current
classification status. See Id. ¶ 74. Webb
claims that the defendants have violated the Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to provide him
with procedural due process in connection with his initial
and continued placement on special circumstances high
security status. Webb also alleges that the defendants have
violated the Eighth Amendment, by imposing restraint
requirements disproportionate to the safety and security risk
he poses to inmates and staff, and the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, by treating him
differently than other former death row inmates. Webb seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief and monetary damages.
Eighth Amendment Claim
has named as defendants a number of prior Commissioners of
the Department of Correction and prior Wardens of Northern,
as well as the current Warden of Northern and the current
Commissioner of Correction. He generally asserts that the
defendants were responsible for housing him at Northern under
restrictive conditions of confinement.
to the website for the Department of Correction, Leo Arnone
was Commissioner of Correction from 2010 to 2013, James
Dzurenda was Commissioner from 2013 to 2014, and Scott Semple
is the current Commissioner. Angel Quiros was the Warden at
Northern from 2009 to 2011, Eduardo Maldonado was the Warden
from 2011 to 2014, Anne Cournoyer was the Warden from 2014 to
2016, and Nick Rodriguez is the current Warden. Although Webb
identifies Brian Murphy as a former Commissioner of
Correction and William Mulligan as a former Warden at
Northern, the website does not list either person in those