Barron v. French
RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION recommending that Ms. Barron's claims be dismissed, without prejudice. The Court further recommends that this dismissal constitute a "strike" and that the Court certify that an in forma pauperis appeal of this decision would be frivolous and not taken in good faith. Objections due 14 days from the date of this Order. Signed by Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on 10/14/2020. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
DEURSLA LASHAY BARRON
CASE NO. 3:20-CV-318-LPR-BD
Procedure for Filing Objections:
This Recommendation for dismissal has been sent to Judge Lee P. Rudofsky. Ms.
Barron may file objections if she disagrees with the findings or conclusions set out in the
Recommendation. Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal
basis for the objection.
To be considered, objections must be filed within 14 days. If no objections are
filed, Judge Rudofsky can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing
the record. If she does not file objections, Ms. Barron may waive the right to appeal
questions of fact.
Deursla Lashay Barron, a detainee in the Craighead County Detention Facility,
filed this civil rights lawsuit without the help of a lawyer. (Doc. No. 2) Ms. Barron is
proceeding in forma pauperis (IFP). In reviewing Ms. Barron’s complaint, the Court has
read her allegations liberally, assuming all allegations to be true. Even so, she has not
stated a federal claim for relief.
Ms. Barron first alleges that Defendant French denied her the opportunity to
shower on the date she drafted her complaint. Because Ms. Barron was a pre-trial
detainee at the time of the events giving rise to her complaint, her claims are analyzed
under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S.
520, 535 n. 16 (1979); and Stearns v. Inmate Servs. Corp., 957 F.3d 902, 905 (8th Cir.
Under Bell, the government may detain a defendant before trial and subject her to
the detention facility’s restrictions and conditions, “so long as those conditions and
restrictions do not amount to punishment, or otherwise violate the Constitution.” Stearns,
957 F.3d at 907 (citing Bell, 441 U.S. at 536–37).
In determining whether a detainee’s conditions of confinement constitute
punishment, courts consider the totality of the circumstances, including the duration of
the allegedly harsh conditions. Stearns, 957 F.3d at 909 (8th Cir. 2020); Owens v. Scott
County Jail, 328 F.3d 1026, 1027 (8th Cir. 2003); Smith v. Copeland, 87 F.3d 265, 26869 (8th Cir. 1996); and Green v. Baron, 879 F.2d 305, 309 (8th Cir. 1989).
Under the Fourteenth Amendment, conditions of confinement are deemed
impermissibly punitive if they “deprive inmates of the minimal civilized measures of
life’s necessities.” Owens, 328 F.3d at 1027; see also Green, 879 F.2d at 309-10 (pretrial
detainees have a “right to a safe and healthy environment,” and must be provided “basic
human necessities,” including adequate food, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, and
sanitation). The length of time that a detainee is subjected to the allegedly
unconstitutional conditions is a “critical factor” in the analysis. Smith, 87 F.3d at 269.
Based on the facts Ms. Barron alleges, the Court cannot conclude that Defendant
French denied her “the minimal civilized measures of life’s necessities” by denying her
the opportunity to shower on one occasion. This one-time, minor inconvenience does not
trigger constitutional protection. Bell, 441 U.S. at 339 n.21 (“There is, of course, a de
minimus level of imposition with which the Constitution is not concerned”) (internal
Ms. Barron also complains that when she attempted to place five telephone
“invitations” through the jail’s kiosk, the computerized system erroneously allowed her to
place only two invitations. (Doc. No. 2 at p.4) Notably, Ms. Barron does not allege that
Defendant French—or any other Detention Facility employee—denied her the ability to
use the telephone; instead, she alleges that a glitch in the computer limited her to only
two of the usual five telephone invitations detainees are normally allowed. Prisoners do
not enjoy the right to unlimited phone use. Benzel v. Grammer, 869 F.2d 1105, 1108 (8th
Cir. 1989). This deprivation does not state a claim for relief.
The Court recommends that Ms. Barron’s claims be DISMISSED, without
prejudice. The Court further recommends that this dismissal constitute a “strike” for
purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) and that the Court certify that an in forma pauperis
appeal of this decision would be frivolous and not taken in good faith.
DATED this 14th day of October, 2020.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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