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Illinois Supreme Court: Prisoner’s Rights to Due Process Not Violated

Aaron P. Fillmore, as a prisoner at the Lawrence Correctional Center in Illinois, was cited for violating rules related to being involved in a “Security Threat Group or Unauthorized Organizational Activity." Guards contended that Fillmore assumed an active leadership role within the Latin King Nation. Information had been gathered through confidential informants, searches, and monitored mail, as well as phone calls, indicating his involvement in the security threat group.

After being served with the disciplinary report, Fillmore requested a review of telephone logs and eight prisoner witnesses.

Fillmore pleaded not guilty before the disciplinary committee and submitted a written statement.

The committee submitted a report stating no witnesses were requested, and subsequently found Fillmore guilty of the rule violations. Fillmore was sanctioned with one year in segregation, loss of contact visits, C-grade status, $15 per month restriction, and loss of one year of good-conduct credits.

In response, he filed a prisoner grievance alleging that the disciplinary committee did not call his witnesses despite his request and that the committee was not impartial. All of this violated his rights to due process, Fillmore said. That grievance was denied on all levels.

After exhausting his administrative remedies, he sought mandamus relief in the circuit court, arguing that the defendants had a clear ministerial duty to follow established federal, state, and administrative laws, rules, procedures, and regulations. The circuit court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. Fillmore appealed.

The appellate court found that he stated a cause of action for mandamus on two of his claims; that the committee had a clear nondiscretionary duty to document Fillmore’s objections to the committee’s lack of impartiality, and that the committee failed to include a summary of Fillmore’s written statement, all in violation of the department’s own regulations.

The defendant sought review by the Supreme Court of Illinois. Fillmore sought cross-relief. The Court began its analysis in addressing Fillmore’s request for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995). In doing so, the Court reversed the portion of the appellate court’s order finding that Fillmore did state a claim for mandamus and common-law writ of certiorari. Additionally, the Court reversed the circuit court’s order with regard to Fillmore’s claim that the defendants violated his right to due process in revoking his good-conduct credits.

Accordingly, the Court remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. See Fillmore v. Taylor, 2019 IL 122626 (2019).

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Related legal case

Fillmore v. Taylor