United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER AND RULING ON MOTION FOR
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
at the Brooklyn Correctional Institution, Michael Luther
(“Plaintiff”) has sued Community Release Unit
Director Thomas Hunt (“Director Hunt”),
Commissioner of Correction Rollin Cook, and Inmate
Classification Director David Maiga (collectively
“Defendants”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and
has alleged that the Defendants have an unconstitutional
policy or practice of denying community release to sex
offenders. He also seeks an emergency hearing.
reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss Mr.
Luther's claims under the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, and the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; and all of his
claims on behalf of an alleged class. Mr. Luther's claims
under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
will proceed, but this ruling is without prejudice to
Defendants filing a motion to dismiss addressing this claim.
Luther's motion for an emergency hearing will be
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Luther, now thirty-two years old, allegedly has been
incarcerated since the age of fifteen for “sexually
related offenses.” Compl. ¶ 8, ECF No. 1 (May 16,
January 11, 2006, a judge imposed a total effective sentence
of thirty years of incarceration, execution suspended after
twenty years and followed by twenty-five years of probation.
State v. Luther, Nos. A22MCR02122949,
A22MCR02122950, A22MCR02122951, A22MCR02122952,
AANCR02122556, AANCR04222687, 2008 WL 1734696, at *1 (Conn.
Super. Ct. Mar. 25, 2008).
Luther alleges that “[i]nmates are assigned a number of
classification scores corresponding with various . . . risks
and needs” and that “a Classification Sex
Treatment Needs Score of 2 or greater . . . indicates a
history of one or more sexually related offenses.”
Compl. ¶¶ 14-15.
April 24, 2019, Mr. Luther allegedly submitted an application
to the Department of Correction Community Release Unit for
community release. Id. ¶ 9, 11; Compl. at 43
(Ex. G, Agreement for Community Release (Apr. 24, 2019)).
“Community release” allegedly refers to a number
of programs or facilities designed to assist individuals with
successfully transitioning back into their communities after
incarceration. See Compl. at 45-47 (Ex. I, Conn.
Dep't of Corr., Community Release Unit (undated); Ex. H,
Community Release Outlook (unknown source) (undated)).
granted community release are released before the end of
their sentence to complete their sentence in the community.
See Compl. at 45-47 (Ex. O, Releases and discharges
in 2005 (unknown source) (undated)).
10, 2019, Director Hunt allegedly denied Mr. Luther's
application due to the nature and/or circumstances of his
criminal offense and/or the impact to the victim or the
victim's family. Compl. at 12-13 ¶ 9; Compl. at 44,
Ex. H (Community Release Program Cover Sheet (May 10, 2019)
(denying Mr. Luther community release)).
16, 2019, Mr. Luther filed this lawsuit, alleging that the
Connecticut Department of Correction has an unconstitutional
policy or practice of denying community release to
individuals incarcerated for sex offenses. Compl. at 11,
15, 2019, Mr. Luther filed a motion for an emergency hearing
requesting injunctive relief permitting him to “submit
a new Community Release/Halfway house application” soon
enough for him to spend time in a halfway house before his
term of imprisonment ends in 2020. Mot. for Emerg. Hearing
¶ 3-6, ECF No. 8 (July 15, 2019) (“With the Risk
Reduction Earned Credit [Mr. Luther] stands to earn, he will
discharge July 2020.”); Compl. at 44 (Ex. H, Community
Release Program Cover Sheet, Conn. Dep't of Corr. (May
10, 2019) (estimating Mr. Luther's release date as
October 20, 2020)).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), a court must review prisoner civil
complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss . .
. any portion of [a] 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.” Id.
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that
a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A
claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
complaint that includes only “‘labels and
conclusions,' ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement, '” does not meet the facial
plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)).
Although courts still have an obligation to interpret
“a pro se complaint liberally, ” the
complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations
to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris
v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations
Luther argues that the Defendants and the Department of
Correction have denied virtually every application for
community release submitted by a juvenile sex offender in
violation of his federal constitutional and human rights as
well as the rights of similarly situated juvenile sex
offenders. Compl. at 11 ¶ 3. In his view, this decision
violates his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and
equal protection of the laws and his Eighth Amendment right
to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Id.
¶ 41. He seeks an order allowing meaningful review of
the applications for community placement by juvenile sex
offenders, including his own. Id. ¶ 43.
Court addresses each of his claims in turn.
Claims on Behalf of Other Inmates
his request for class relief, pro se litigants do
not have standing to sue on behalf of other litigants.
See Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106, 114 (1976)
(“Ordinarily, one may not claim standing in this Court
to vindicate the constitutional rights of some third
party” (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted)); Hollingsworth v. Perry, 570 U.S. 693,
707-08 (2013) (“In the ordinary course, a litigant must
assert his or her own legal rights and interests, and cannot
rest a claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of
third parties” (internal quotation marks and citation
addition, a litigant in federal court has a right to act as
his own counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1654, but no authority
to appear as an attorney for others. See United States ex
rel. Mergent Servs. v. Flaherty, 540 F.3d 89, 92 (2d
Cir. 2008) (“[A]n individual who is not licensed as an
attorney may not appear on another's behalf in the
other's cause.”); Eagle Assocs. v. Bank of
Montreal, 926 F.2d 1305, 1308 (2d Cir. 1991) (Section
1654 “does not allow for unlicensed laymen to represent
anyone else other than themselves.” (internal quotation
Mr. Luther only has standing to assert claims on behalf of
himself. See Am. Psychiatric Ass'n v. Anthem Health
Plans, Inc., 821 F.3d 352, 358 (2d Cir. 2016)
(“Another prudential principle [regarding standing] is
that a plaintiff may ...