On Friday, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that Eugene Carl Hathaway, who is currently serving a 12-year sentence for violent bank robbery had provided sufficiently alleged that he had been transferred to solitary “without providing him procedural due process as required under the U.S. Constitution.” A trial judge, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in the Southern District of New York had dismissed Hathaway’s civil rights complaint without granting him the leave to amend his complaint. Hathaway appealed.
Hathaway had been sentenced after he pleaded guilty in 2005 in the violent bank robbery case. In April 2009, a prison warden reported that Hathaway had punched him. In August 2009, Hathaway was moved from the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan to state prison in Mississippi and put into solitary confinement.
The summary order issued on Friday by the appeals court mentioned that the appeals court believed federal officials had “punished him for assaulting a prison warden by causing him to be transferred to a small cell in a state prison.” The order also observed that the temperature in the cell exceeded 110 degrees and Hathaway had a plausible claim that his constitutional right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment had been violated.
Since August 2009, Hathaway has been kept in solitary confinement for punching a prison warden. Phillip Wellner, who represented him pro bono in the appeals court, helped Hathaway, who had represented himself in the trial court. Wellner said that Hathaway was transferred to the federal maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado, last year. Wellner also said that he intended to file an amended complaint and request the district judge to order Hathaway released from solitary confinement.
The three-judge panel also held that if Hathaway pursues a motion to amend his complaint, the district judge should grant it and should also determine the merits of any claims for injunctive relief if Hathaway decides to make any.
The case is Eugene Carl Hathaway v. United States Attorney General in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 10-5132