Hanlon v. Lucas et al

Filing 5

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS that pltf's complt be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted 2 . This dismissal count as a "strike" for purposes of 28 USC 1915(g). The Court certify that an ifp appeal taken from the order and judgment dismissing this action be considered frivolous and not in good faith. Objections to R&R due by 7/27/2009. Signed by Magistrate Judge H. David Young on 7/13/2009. (lej)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS HELENA DIVISION TIMOTHY LEE HANLON V. LUCAS et al. PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS INS T RUCT IONS The following recommended disposition has been sent to United States District Judge James. M. Moody. Any party may serve and file written objections to this recommendation. Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection. If the objection is to a factual finding, specifically identify that finding and the evidence that supports your objection. An original and one copy of your objections must be received in the office of the United States District Court Clerk no later than eleven (11) days from the date of the findings and recommendations. The copy will be furnished to the opposing party. Failure to file timely objections may result in waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact. If you are objecting to the recommendation and also desire to submit new, different, or additional evidence, and to have a hearing for this purpose before the District Judge, you must, at the same time that you file your written objections, include the following: 1. 2. Why the record made before the Magistrate Judge is inadequate. Why the evidence proffered at the hearing before the District Judge (if such a hearing is granted) was not offered at the hearing before the Magistrate Judge. The detail of any testimony desired to be introduced at the hearing before the District Judge in the form of an offer of 1 NO: 2:09CV00083 JMM/HDY DEFENDANTS PLAINTIFF 3. proof, and a copy, or the original, of any documentary or other non-testimonial evidence desired to be introduced at the hearing before the District Judge. From this submission, the District Judge will determine the necessity for an additional evidentiary hearing, either before the Magistrate Judge or before the District Judge. Mail your objections and "Statement of Necessity" to: Clerk, United States District Court Eastern District of Arkansas 600 West Capitol Avenue, Suite A149 Little Rock, AR 72201-3325 DISPOSITION Plaintiff, an inmate at the East Arkansas Regional Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction ("ADC"), filed a pro se complaint (docket entry #2), on July 1, 2009, alleging that Defendants opened his legal mail outside his presence. I. Screening Before docketing the complaint, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the Court must review the complaint to identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. 1915A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." In Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-5 (2007) (overruling Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1967), and setting new standard for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted), the Court stated, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the `grounds' of his `entitle[ment]to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the 2 elements of a cause of action will not do....Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level," citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004). A complaint must contain enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, not merely conceivable. Twombly at 1974. However, a pro se plaintiff's allegations must be construed liberally. Burke v. North Dakota Dept. of Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 1043-1044 (8th Cir.2002) (citations omitted). II. Analysis According to Plaintiff's complaint, on June 20, 2009, he received a letter from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration which had already been opened. Plaintiff asserts that such mail should be opened only in his presence with a sergeant or lieutenant present, and claims that he is entitled to $6,000.00 in damages for a violation of his first amendment rights. However, regardless of how the jail may classify mail, the letter described by Plaintiff is not privileged. Privileged prisoner mail is mail to or from an inmate's attorney and identified as such, and may not be opened for inspections for contraband except in the presence of the prisoner. Jensen v. Klecker, 648 F.2d 1179, 1182 (8th Cir. 1981); citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 576-77 (1974). The mail Plaintiff has identified was not from his attorney, and was therefore not privileged. Nonprivileged mail "is clearly not immune to inspection, thus such inspections cannot give rise to civil rights violations." Jensen v. Klecker, 648 F.2d at 1182 (internal citations omitted). To the extent that a prison policy may have been violated by opening the letter outside of Plaintiff's presence, the Court notes that violation of a prison policy alone is not a constitutional violation. See Gardner v. Howard, 109 F. 3d 427, 430 (8th Cir. 1997)(no 1983 liability for violation of prison policy). Accordingly, Plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief 3 may be granted. III. Conclusion IT IS THEREFORE RECOMMENDED THAT: 1. Plaintiff's complaint be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 2. 3. This dismissal count as a "strike" for purposes of 28 U.S.C. 1915(g). The Court certify that an in forma pauperis appeal taken from the order and judgment dismissing this action be considered frivolous and not in good faith. DATED this 13 day of July, 2009. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 4

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