Gates v. Holliday et al
ORDER holding 1 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by Ercil K Gates in abeyance and directing the plaintiff to file an amended complaint within 30 days of the issuance of this Order. Signed by Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on 12/12/08. (bkp)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT E A S T E R N DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS W E S T E R N DIVISION E R C I L K. GATES V. D O C HOLLIDAY, et al. ORDER P lain tiff , a pretrial detainee at the Pulaski County Detention Facility ("PCDF"), b rin g s a pro se Complaint (docket entry #2) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, along with a Motion f o r Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (#1). Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed I n Forma Pauperis (#1) will be held in abeyance at this time. F e d e ra l courts are required to screen prisoner complaints seeking relief against a g o v e r n m e n t a l entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court must dismiss a c o m p la in t or portion thereof it the prisoner has raised claims that: (a) are legally frivolous o r malicious; (b) fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (c) seek m o n etary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). T o state a cognizable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the c o n d u c t of a defendant acting under color of state law deprived him of a right, privilege, o r immunity secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. While a court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true and h o ld a plaintiff's pro se complaint "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings d ra f te d by lawyers," Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam), a CASE NO. 4:08CV04192 JMM/BD DEFENDANTS P L A IN T IF F
p lain tiff still must assert facts sufficient to state a claim as a matter of law. Martin v. S a r g e n t, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). As the case now stands, the Court cannot d e te rm in e whether Plaintiff has stated a claim for relief under § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that he received money to use for stamps and to make copies for leg a l filings. Since Plaintiff owed the county money, the received money was taken to p a y Plaintiff's debt. Plaintiff's request for stamps as an indigent inmate was then denied b e c a u s e Plaintiff had received money. As a result, Plaintiff alleges that his First A m e n d m e n t right to meaningful access to the courts was violated. Plaintiff sues D e f e n d a n ts Holliday, Morgan, Smith, Paxon, Peters, and Martin for the alleged violation. To allow meaningful access to the courts "indigent inmates must be provided at sta te expense with paper and pen to draft legal documents, with notarial services to a u th e n tic a te them, and with stamps to mail them." Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 8242 5 , 97 S.Ct. 1491, 1496 (1977). Inmates are not entitled, however, to unlimited free p o s ta g e . Smith v. Erickson, 884 F.2d 1108, 1111 (8th Cir.1989). A regulation that limits a c c e s s to the courts is valid if it is "reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." Id . at 1110 (quoting Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89, 107 S.Ct. 2254, 2261 (1987)). An allegation that prison officials have impeded access to the courts, standing a lo n e , is insufficient to establish a constitutional violation. "To assert a successful claim f o r denial of meaningful access to the courts . . . an inmate must demonstrate that he s u f f ere d prejudice." Blaise v. Fenn, 48 F.3d 337, 340 (8th Cir. 1995) (citations omitted).
A n exception to this rule applies when "a systemic denial of inmates' constitutional right o f access to the courts" is in force, because that is "such a fundamental deprivation that it is an injury in itself." Id. (citations omitted). In the present case, Plaintiff has failed to allege any injury or prejudice resulting f ro m the Defendants' alleged conduct. His allegations are also insufficient to establish a s ys te m a tic denial of access to the courts. While Plaintiff names several individuals as D e f e n d a n ts, his Complaint mentions only Defendant Martin. Accordingly, Plaintiff is o rd e re d to provide an amended complaint, within thirty (30) days of the issuance of this O rd e r, addressing the issue of prejudice and specifically describing the offending conduct o f each named Defendant. F a ilu re to timely and completely respond to this Order may result in dismissal of th e Complaint. See Local Rule 5.5(c)(2).1 Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in fo r m a pauperis (#1) will be held in abeyance until a review of the amended complaint.
Plaintiff is notified of his responsibility to comply with the Local Rules of the C o u rt, including Rule 5.5(c)(2), which states: "It is the duty of any party not represented b y counsel to promptly notify the Clerk and the other parties to the proceedings of any c h a n g e in his or her address, to monitor the progress of the case, and to prosecute or d e f en d the action diligently. A party appearing for himself/herself shall sign his/her p le a d in g s and state his/her address, zip code, and telephone number. If any c o m m u n ic a tio n from the Court to a pro se plaintiff is not responded to within thirty (30) d a ys , the case may be dismissed without prejudice. Any party proceeding pro se shall be e x p e cte d to be familiar with and follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." 3
IT IS SO ORDERED this 12th day of December, 2008.
____________________________________ U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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