United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se plaintiff Courtney Green, currently incarcerated at
Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, has
filed a complaint pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He names as
defendants former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department
of Correction Scott Semple, current Commissioner Rollin Cook,
Chairperson of the Board of Pardons and Paroles Carleton
Giles, Director of Parole and Community Services Richard
Sparaco, and Parole Officer Otero (herein
“Defendants”). Green alleges that Defendants,
state actors, have acted under color of state law to deny him
equal protection of the laws by treating him differently from
another inmate convicted of the same offense with respect to
applying earned credits to advance his parole eligibility
date. As a result of this alleged violation, Green seeks
damages from the Defendants in their individual capacities.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, the
Court must review a prisoner's civil complaint and
dismiss any portion thereof that is “frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1)-(2). “[T]he district judge's §
1915A review of whether a complaint ‘fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted' is guided by the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as interpreted by [United
States] Supreme Court and Second Circuit decisions whose
principles have become familiar.” Green v.
Martin, 224 F.Supp.3d 154, 160 (D. Conn. 2016).
pro se complaint is adequately pled if its
allegations, liberally construed, could “conceivably
give rise to a viable claim.” Phillips v.
Girdich, 408 F.3d 124, 130 (2d Cir. 2005). In reviewing
a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth
of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to
“raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest.”
Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007).
See also Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d
Cir. 2013) (same) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of
Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); Tracy v.
Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010)
(discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se
litigants). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. The complaint must provide “more than the
accusation.” Id. “A pleading that offers
‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555).
25, 2008, Green was charged with three counts of assault in
the first degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes
§ 53a-59(a). On April 21, 2009, he was convicted and
sentenced to a term of imprisonment of twenty years. The
statute then in effect, Connecticut General Statute §
54-125a, required Green to serve not less than 85% of his
sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
July 1, 2011, § 54-125a was revised by Public Act 11-51,
§ 25. The new version of § 54-125a provided that an
inmate incarcerated after October 1, 1990, who had served not
less than 50% of his aggregate sentence, less any risk
reduction earned credit (“RREC”) earned under the
provisions of section 22 of the Act, was eligible for parole.
Section 22, which was codified in Connecticut General
Statutes § 18-98e, authorized RREC, and provided that
the eligibility of inmates to earn RREC was at the discretion
of the Commissioner. A few crimes were identified as
exceptions to RREC eligibility in the statute. However, Green
was not convicted of any of the excluded crimes.
though he was convicted of a violent offense, Green was
eligible to earn RREC upon satisfaction of certain
conditions, including adherence to his inmate offender
accountability plan, good conduct, obedience to prison rules,
and participation in programs and activities. 2011 Conn.
Legis. Serv. P.A. 11-51 (H.B. 6650). In addition to reducing
his sentence, an award of RREC advanced Green's parole
eligibility date. Doc. 1 (“Complaint”), Statement
of Facts, ¶ 5.
to the Complaint, on April 25, 2012, Commissioner Semple
revised the list of crimes ineligible for RREC. Id.,
¶ 6. The newly added crimes included felony murder,
arson murder, and aggravated sexual assault in the first
degree, which the Court notes were crimes explicitly excluded
in the 2011 version of § 54-125a. Id. Assault
in the first degree, Green's crime, although a violent
felony, was not added to the ineligibility list. Id.
Green continued to earn RREC. Id. However, on July
1, 2013, Green received a memo signed by Chairman Giles
stating that his RREC would no longer be applied to advance
his parole eligibility date. Id., ¶ 7.
December 4, 2018, Green spoke with inmate Johnny Johnson
(inmate #161684), who also had been convicted of assault in
the first degree. Id., ¶ 8. Inmate Johnson was
serving an eighteen-year sentence. Id. Neither Green
nor Johnson has a gang affiliation or has ever been charged
with an assault on staff. Id., ¶ 9. However,
inmate Johnson's RREC continues to be applied to
accelerate his parole eligibility date, whereas RREC is no
longer applied to accelerate said date for Green.
to Plaintiff, defendant Sparaco, Director of Parole and
Community Services, has instituted a policy that permits only
violent offenders who committed their crimes between July 1,
2011, and July 1, 2013, to have their RREC applied to
accelerate their parole eligibility dates. Id.,
¶¶ 5, 10. Under this policy, Green no longer has
“his parole eligibility date accelerated even though
[he] still continues to receive RREC.” Id.,
¶ 11. Green submitted an Inmate Request, “an
inquiry about the misapplication of the law” regarding
RREC and his parole eligibility date, to Parole Officer
Otero, but he received no response. Id., ¶ 12.
Plaintiff thereafter filed an “Administrative Remedy,
” through which he allegedly “exhausted his
administrative remedies with no interdepartmental
resolution.” Id., ¶ 13. On March 18,
2019, Plaintiff filed this action for “denial of equal
treatment amongst similarly situated prisoners” -
disparate treatment from that afforded inmate Johnson.
Id., ¶¶ 14-15.
Complaint, Green sets forth three claims against Defendants:
(1) violation of his equal protection rights by treating him
disparately from similarly situated inmate Johnson with
respect to applying RREC to accelerate his parole eligibility
date; Doc. 1, Count One, ¶¶ 16-18; (2) denial of
equal protection of the laws by discriminating against
Plaintiff in an arbitrary manner, intentionally excluding him
from the application of Connecticut state law, Public Act
11-51, §§ 22, 25, while applying that law to
similarly situated persons if their offenses were committed
between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2013; id., Count
Two, ¶¶ 19-20; and (3) failure by Defendants
Semple, Cook, Giles and Sparaco to adequately supervise some
or all of their subordinates to ensure that they adhere to
constitutional law (i.e., equal protection of laws
with respect to similarly situated persons), id.,
Count Three, ¶¶ 21-22.
Counts One and Two - Violation of Equal Protection
Counts One and Two, Green attempts to assert §1983
claims based on the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. In Count One, he asserts that the Defendants have
acted under color of state law to violate his right to equal
protection of the laws by “intentionally treating [him]
disparately from Johnny Johnson” under Connecticut
state law even though they are similarly situated inmates.
Doc. 1, ¶ 18. In Count Two, Green alleges that
Defendants “discriminated against [him] in an arbitrary
manner by intentionally excluding [him] from statutory laws
of the State of [Connecticut], ” Public Act 11-51,
§§ 22 and 25. Id., ¶ 20. Therefore,
in both “equal protection” counts, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants have denied him equal protection of
the law by applying RREC to ...