FEINBERG, Chief Judge:
Victor Bayron, a prisoner at Clinton Correctional Facility, appeals pro se from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York dismissing sua sponte and without service of process Bayron's complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because the dismissal of the complaint was premature, the judgment of the district court is vacated and the case is remanded for the service of process and further proceedings.
In April 1981, Bayron filed a complaint in the Northern District against defendants Correctional Officer Trudeau and Correctional Counselor Petrushun in their individual and official capacities. The complaint, set forth on a form that the Northern District clerk's office supplies to prisoners, covered seven pages. Bayron alleged, among other things, that during a search of his cell, the named officers in his presence either destroyed or took without ever returning certain books, medication and other personal items, and intentionally damaged other personal belongings. The complaint also alleged that one of the officers read through Bayron's legal papers, and that Officer Petrushun filed an intentionally false misbehavior report against him. The last action allegedly resulted in unwarranted and arbitrary disciplinary action by the Adjustment Committee, including "false imprisonment" for seven days and lost privileges for 23 days. Bayron sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the officers as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
The district judge referred the complaint to Magistrate Edward M. Conan. In April 1982, the magistrate granted Bayron in forma pauperis status and ordered the complaint to be filed without payment of fees. At the same time, in a three-page "Report-Recommendation," the magistrate recommended that the complaint be dismissed. Despite the allegations in the complaint regarding the cell search, property seizure and destruction and reading of Bayron's legal papers, the magistrate interpreted Bayron's complaint as only seeking "relief from what he claims was an unfavorable Adjustment Committee result." The magistrate concluded that since in this regard Bayron did not allege any specific constitutional deprivation, such as lack of a hearing, he did not state a cause of action under § 1983.
In any event, Bayron filed a timely notice of appeal and, subsequently, a brief and appendix in this court. The appendix consisted of a copy of the docket entries in the district court and a copy of the magistrate's Order and Report-Recommendation. Thereafter, the Attorney General wrote the clerk of this court a short letter, the key paragraph of which was:
The appeal in due course came before this panel and was taken on submission upon the record as set forth above.
This court has only recently reaffirmed the principle that sua sponte dismissal of a pro se prisoner petition before service of process and the filing of a response by the state is strongly disfavored. See Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc. and Bro. R. Smallwood-El v. Smith, 693 F.2d 987, 989 (2d Cir.1982), and the cases there cited. Dismissal of a prisoner's pro se complaint is warranted only when it appears that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 101-102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). Moreover, the complaint must be liberally construed, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 595, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972), and the allegations taken as true, Cooper v. Pate, 378 U.S. 546, 84 S.Ct. 1733, 12 L.Ed.2d 1030 (1964).
With these principles in mind, it is clear that the district court acted prematurely. Putting to one side whether Bayron failed to allege any specific constitutional deprivations with regard to the disciplinary hearings,
Indeed, we are dismayed to find ourselves again in the very position we deplored in Lewis v. State of New York, cited in the letter to us from the Attorney General. We there pointed out in a case also alleging confiscation of a prisoner's property:
547 F.2d at 6 (footnotes omitted). We realize that pro se petitions from prisoners are numerous in the Northern District and are burdensome, but it still would have been better to serve process on defendants and require a response, as suggested in Lewis and in later opinions making the same point. See, e.g., Anderson v. Coughlin, 700 F.2d 37, 41 (2d Cir.1983); Fries v. Barnes, 618 F.2d 988, 989 (2d Cir.1980); Ron v. Wilkinson, 565 F.2d 1254, 1258-59 (2d Cir.1977). See also Comment, State Prisoners, Federal Courts, and Playing by the Rules: An Analysis of the Aldisert Committee's Recommended Procedures for Handling Prisoner Civil Rights Cases, 5 U. Puget Sound L.Rev. 131, 146-49 (1981).
We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.