Ratchford et al v. Evans et al
ORDER denying 81 Motion to Intervene by inmate Gary Gardner; denying 83 Motion to Compel; denying 86 Motion for Copies. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney on 1/23/12. (vjt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
JEFFREY SCOTT RATCHFORD,
ADC #127515, et al.
GLADYS M. EVANS, et al.
This matter is before the Court on several pending Motions (Doc. Nos. 81, 83, 86).
Motion to Intervene (Doc. No. 81)
This Motion was filed by Inmate Gary Gardner, who is incarcerated at the Delta Regional
Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). He asks to join in this action as a plaintiff,
claiming the facts of the present case to be similar to a problem he is experiencing. Specifically, the
allegations of the present Complaint concern a new Varner Unit policy which prevents inmates from
using word processors to compose and store legal documents. Inmate Gardner states he no longer
is permitted to type up his own legal work, and does not trust permitting other inmates to type his
work on his behalf.
Defendants oppose Gardner’s Motion, stating he does not allege that he is prevented from
hand-writing his complaints and mailing them to the Court, and he acknowledges that inmate clerk
typists are available to complete any typing tasks he needs. In addition, Defendants note that inmate
Gardner is incarcerated at a different Unit from the Plaintiffs and does not include any allegations
against the named Defendants.
This Court recently denied Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification, finding that the claims
or defenses of the present Plaintiffs may differ from those of other inmates, and that Plaintiffs could
not fairly and adequately protect the interests of other members of the class. The Court also notes
that inmate Gardner cites no statutory or case law in support of his Motion. While FED.R.CIV.P.
24(b) provides for permissive intervention when a movant “has a claim or defense that shares with
the main action a common question of law or fact,” the Court finds that inmate Gardner does not
show that his claim is sufficiently intertwined with that of the Plaintiffs in this case. He also does
not, as noted by the Defendants, allege the involvement of any of the named Defendants. While he
may certainly file his own lawsuit based on his particular circumstance, the Court finds that he
should not be permitted to intervene in the present lawsuit. Therefore, the Motion will be denied.
Motion to Compel (Doc. No. 83)
Plaintiffs ask the Court to compel Defendants to produce several documents previously
Request One - Documents and reports concerning Defendant Evans’ June 9,
2011 investigation into possible misuse of law library computers by inmates. Specifically, Plaintiffs
seek a list of the inmates found to have had password protected files on the computers. Defendants
object, stating such information is confidential and could possibly disclose sensitive computer
Plaintiffs claim that the information is relevant to their claims that
Defendant Evans targeted them with false charges, since she only filed disciplinary charges against
the four Plaintiffs, and not against others found to have password protected files.
At this point, the Court concurs with the Defendants’ objections, based on confidentiality
and security concerns. However, some of the information apparently sought by Plaintiffs – such as
the number of inmates found to have password protected files, and Defendant Evans’ reasons for
filing only four disciplinary charges – could possibly be obtained through the use of interrogatories.
Request Two - Major disciplinaries written by Defendant Evans on or about
June 21, 2011. Defendants state they provided Plaintiffs with copies of the disciplinaries written
against them, but that any other disciplinaries are confidential and irrelevant to Plaintiffs’ claims.
Plaintiffs claim this is relevant to their retaliation/false disciplinary charge claims and that numerous
sources informed them that they were not the only ones targeted with disciplinaries.
Again, the Court finds that copies of disciplinaries written against other inmates, who are not
parties to this action, should not be provided, based on confidentiality. However, Plaintiffs can use
interrogatories to determine if other inmates received disciplinary charges on that same date based
on the same facts as set forth in Plaintiffs’ Complaint.
Requests Five, Six, Eight, and Eleven - Plaintiffs ask for copies of the
following policies: qualifications for employment as law library supervisor, law library accreditation
and standards, legal assistance to pro se inmates, and law library passes for extra time in the Unit
law library. Defendants respond that the latter requested policy was provided to the Plaintiffs and
that other policies are not relevant to material issues of this case. Plaintiffs state the information is
relevant to the issue of access to the courts.
The Court finds that most of the policies requested by the Plaintiffs are not relevant to the
issues set forth in their Complaint. Plaintiffs allege Defendant Evans filed retaliatory disciplinary
charges against them in June, 2011, with respect to the issue of password protected files. They also
claim denial of access to the courts, due to Defendants preventing them from using the law library
computers to type their own legal documents. The information Plaintiffs seek in their production
requests, and as outlined in their Motion, is not relevant to the access to the courts issue as framed
in their Complaint. Plaintiffs allege a denial of access to the courts only with respect to Defendants’
decision to limit their access to the Inmate Word Processing System. Therefore, the Court will deny
Requests Thirteen, Fifteen, Seventeen, and Eighteen - Plaintiffs ask for
transcripts of various disciplinary hearings. Defendants object, stating that transcripts are not
available, that Plaintiffs are prohibited from possessing the tapes themselves, and that the Plaintiffs
were provided with written reports which were created from the charges and the hearing results.
Plaintiffs do not indicate to the Court what additional information would be available to them
through transcripts of the tapes of the hearings. They also do not state to the Court how such
information is relevant to their claims against Defendants. Therefore, the Court will deny these
Motion for Copies (Doc. No. 86)
Plaintiffs ask the Court to provide them with a transcript of the November 3, 2011 hearing
conducted on their motions for preliminary injunctive relief and class certification. By Order dated
January 13, 2012, this Court denied Plaintiffs’ Motions for injunctive relief, temporary restraining
order and class certification, and granted in part their motion for protective order (Doc. No. 88). In
the Motion for Copies, Plaintiffs state they seek to use some of the testimony produced at the
hearing at a forthcoming trial, and cannot afford the cost of a transcript.
Defendants do not specify what particular testimony is needed or how such testimony would
be relevant to the claims at trial. In addition, there is no indication that these individuals would not
be available to testify at any future trial. In Simmons v. Arkansas, No. CR 06-785, 2006 WL
3325424 (Ark. 2006), the court held that the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act does not require
that an appellate court provide photocopying at public expense, and that the fact that the petitioner
was indigent did not entitle him to a copy of the transcript at public expense, citing Moore v. State,
324 Ark. 453, 921 S.W. 2d 606 (1996) (per curiam), and Washington v. State, 270 Ark. 840, 606
S.W.2d 365 (1980) (per curiam). Accordingly,
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that :
The Motion to Intervene, filed by inmate Gary Gardner (Doc. No. 81) is DENIED;
Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel (Doc. No. 83) is DENIED;
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Copies (Doc. No. 86) is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 23rd day of January, 2012.
JEROME T. KEARNEY
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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