Anderson v. Hobbs et al
ORDER granting 230 Motion for Reconsideration. The defendants have 14 days to respond to Mr. Anderson's two motions for order to file a supplemental pleading (docket entries 226 and 231). Signed by Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on 7/6/12. (kpr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
JAMES KEN ANDERSON
CASE NO. 5:11CV00258 JLH/BD
RAY HOBBS, et al.
Separate Defendants Anderson, York, and Ware have moved for the Court to
reconsider its order instructing Defendants to provide copies of Mr. Anderson’s medical
records from Arkansas Urology. (Docket entry #230) In their motion, these Defendants
complain that they have not been afforded an adequate opportunity to respond to two of
Mr. Anderson’s motions for copies of his medical records. Defendants further suggest
that this Court has been involved in improper ex parte communications with Mr.
Anderson. The motion for reconsideration (#230) is GRANTED, and the Court will
permit Defendants to respond to Mr. Anderson’s request to see his medical records.
With that said, the Court must address the other issues raised in the Defendants’
motion. As an initial observation, if Defendants have reason to believe this Court has
proceeded in an unethical manner in this case, the proper course for them would be to file
an ethics complaint with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. It is not appropriate,
however, for Defendants to include thinly veiled accusations of judicial misconduct in a
motion for reconsideration, lest it appear that they are attempting to improperly influence
or intimidate the Court.
Due to the volume of papers filed in this case, the Court has intentionally ruled
swiftly on each motion in an effort to promote judicial economy and, frankly, to ease the
Defendants’ burden of having to respond to motions that raise irrelevant matters and
motions that are facially without merit. Where the Court deems a response unnecessary, a
decision is rendered without delay. In their motion the Defendants complain that they
were not given time to respond to two of Mr. Anderson’s motions,1 but they are
apparently undisturbed that the Court has denied many of Mr. Anderson’s multiple
motions “for order” without requiring or waiting for Defendants to respond.
Defendants also purport to be “troubled” that the Court transmitted Mr.
Anderson’s own medical records to him without notifying them that the records had been
sent. (#230, p. 3) As counsel well knows, these were the very medical records that
Defendants had sent to the Court. Surely Defendants knew, after the Court ordered them
to submit Mr. Anderson’s medical records, that the records would be sent to Mr.
Anderson. In their motion, Defendants inexplicably express dismay that no subpoena was
issued for the medical records. Obviously, no subpoena was issued because counsel for
Defendants had already provided the medical records to the Court.
Next, Defendants imply that this Court has engaged in improper ex parte
communications with Mr. Anderson. This accusation is both disturbing and offensive.
In both motions, Mr. Anderson sought copies of his own relevant medical records
in a case alleging deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.
Counsel acknowledges, as she must, that a stop-docket order has been entered in
this case. That means, by definition, that the Court reviews every document that Mr.
Anderson sends to the Court before it is filed to determine whether it should be filed.
Each week since the stop-docket order was entered, the Court has returned at least one
document to Mr. Anderson, rather than directing that it be filed, thus alleviating the
burden on Defendants to sift through and respond to lengthy irrelevant papers.
The Court assumes counsel knows the difference between proper and improper ex
parte communications. But to review: Cover letters from staff attorneys returning
rejected, unfiled papers to prisoner-plaintiffs do not touch on the merits of the case and
ordinarily are not sent to defendants. While they are sent ex parte, they are not improper
ex parte communications because they are not substantive. Even so, copies of all
transmittal letters are retained in a file in the Clerk’s Office. Counsel are free to peruse
those cover letters at any time during the Clerk’s regular office hours.
Other than not having the chance to object to providing Mr. Anderson with his
own medical records and not receiving transmittal letters returning papers to Mr.
Anderson, it is unclear exactly what Defendants seek. Do they want copies of all
transmittal letters returning unfiled, irrelevant papers to Mr. Anderson? Do they want
copies of the rejected papers? Do they want the stop-docket order lifted?
In the light of the tone and offensive suggestion of Court improprieties in
Defendants’ motion, the Court will consider recommending that Judge Holmes lift the
stop-docket order so that there is no question that Defendants receive and review each
and every paper Mr. Anderson sends to the Court, whether or not relevant to the issues in
Meanwhile, Defendants have fourteen days to respond to Mr. Anderson’s two
motions for order to file a supplemental pleading (#226 and #231), in which he seeks
more of his medical records.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 6th day of July, 2012.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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