Burchfield v. Harrelson et al
ORDER adopting in part Report and Recommendations re 59 ; denying 43 Motion for Preliminary Injunction; denying 47 Motion to Order for Preliminary Injunction and TRO. Signed by Honorable Susan O. Hickey on January 20, 2017. (mll)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
BRADLEY CRAIG BURCHFIELD
CASE NO. 4:16-CV-4050
DEPUTY CHRIS WALCOTT; and
SHERIFF BENNY SIMMONS
Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation filed October 24, 2016, by the
Honorable Barry A. Bryant, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Arkansas.
ECF No. 59. Judge Bryant recommends that Plaintiff Bradley Craig Burchfield’s Motion for
Preliminary Injunction and Motion to Order for Preliminary Injunction and TRO be denied. ECF
Nos. 43, 47. Plaintiff has not filed objections to the Report and Recommendation. The Court
finds this matter ripe for consideration. 1
This case is a § 1983 action brought by Plaintiff, suing Defendants Chris Walcott and
Benny Simmons in both their official and personal capacities. 2 Plaintiff alleges that while he
was being held on pending state charges in the Sevier County Detention Center (“SCDC”) in De
Queen, Arkansas, the SCDC did not have a law library. Plaintiff states that it is the SCDC’s
policy to provide access to law library materials through appointed counsel and free phone calls
to counsel. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants denied him access to a law library at the SCDC,
which in combination with an allegedly insufficient public defender, deprived Plaintiff of
Rule 7.2(e) of the Rules for the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas
provides that pretrial motions for preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders will not be considered
unless they are filed with a separate brief in support. Plaintiff did not comply with this rule, as he did not file a
separate brief. Because he is acting pro se in this case, the Court will show leniency and consider the motion.
Plaintiff’s complaint identifies Defendant Walcott as the Sevier County Detention Center Jail Administrator and
Defendant Simmons as the Sevier County Sheriff. The complaint named additional defendants, but the Court
adopted a separate Report and Recommendation and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against the other defendants. ECF
meaningful access to the courts. The record shows that Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at the
SCDC, and is currently incarcerated at the Arkansas Department of Correction – Benton Unit in
Benton, Arkansas. ECF No. 71. This remains Plaintiff’s address of record.
On May 24, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present pro se case in the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. On May 27, 2016, the case was transferred to the
Western District of Arkansas. On September 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion asking the Court to
enjoin Defendants from “barring the Petitioner from FILING PAPERWORK TO PROCEED
PRO SE IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF SEVIER COUNTY ARKANSAS.” ECF No. 43.
However, in the motion, Plaintiff makes clear that by “Defendants” he means the “County
Clerk”, “the municipality of the City of De Queen”, and “the County of Sevier.” None of these
persons or entities are parties to the present action.
On September 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Order for Preliminary Injunction and
TRO seeking an order enjoining Defendants “from barring the petitioner from ‘access to the
courts’, ’access to meaningful assistance’, ’access to proceed pro se’, ’access to law library
materials (filed in discovery in circuit court section 3(a); Exculpatory evidence)’, and any other
just relief.” ECF No. 47. Plaintiff further stated that he had trial dates scheduled in Sevier
County, Arkansas, on October 13, 2016, as well as October 26, 2016. Plaintiff argued that even
though he was no longer incarcerated at the SCDC, his constitutional rights were still being
violated by former Defendants Harrelson and Woods’ successors in office.
On October 24, 2016, Judge Bryant issued a Report and Recommendation,
recommending that Plaintiff’s motions be denied. ECF No. 59. Judge Bryant recommends
denial of Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Motion to Order for Preliminary
Injunction and TRO as moot because Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at the SCDC. Judge
Bryant further found that, even if the motions were not moot, the Court should abstain pursuant
to the Younger doctrine. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Judge Bryant also found that
Plaintiff failed to provide any evidence to demonstrate he will sustain irreparable harm if the
Court does not issue injunctive relief, and thus a preliminary injunction should not be issued.
The Court will address each of Plaintiff’s motions in turn.
A. Motion for Preliminary Injunction
As noted above, Plaintiff seeks an injunction enjoining the County Clerk of Sevier
County, Arkansas; the municipality of De Queen, Arkansas; and the County of Sevier from
“barring the Petitioner from FILING PAPERWORK TO PROCEED PRO SE IN THE CIRCUIT
COURT OF SEVIER COUNTY ARKANSAS.” ECF No. 43. These parties are not, and have
never been, parties to this litigation. As such, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s motion should be
B. Motion to Order for Preliminary Injunction and TRO
In his Motion to Order for Preliminary Injunction and TRO, Plaintiff appears to argue
that he will be subject to the policies and practices outlined in the Complaint when he is
transferred back to the SCDC to appear for two scheduled court dates on October 13, 2016, and
October 26, 2016. At this point, both dates have passed and Plaintiff has not alleged or provided
documentation that he will be held in the SCDC at a later date.
Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs preliminary injunctions and
temporary restraining orders. The determination of whether a preliminary injunction is warranted
involves consideration of: “(1) the threat of irreparable harm to the movant; (2) the state of
balance between this harm and the injury that granting the injunction will inflict on other parties .
. . ; (3) the probability that [the] movant will succeed on the merits; and (4) the public interest.”
Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C L Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 114 (8th Cir. 1981). “The party seeking
injunctive relief bears the burden of proving all the Dataphase factors.” Watkins Inc. v. Lewis,
346 F.3d 841, 844 (8th Cir. 2003). Importantly, a movant’s “[f]ailure to show irreparable harm
is an independently sufficient ground upon which to deny a preliminary injunction.” Id.
In a prison context, a request for injunctive relief “must always be viewed with great
caution because judicial restraint is especially called for in dealing with the complex and
intractable problems of prison administration.” Goff v. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Courts “should not get involved unless either a constitutional
violation has already occurred or the threat of such a violation is both real and immediate.” Id. at
The Eighth Circuit provides that a prisoner’s request for injunctive relief is generally
rendered moot by the prisoner’s transfer to a different facility in which the alleged unlawful
condition does not exist. See Smith v. Hundley, 190 F.3d 852, 855 (8th Cir. 1999); Martin v.
Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). However, in exceptional situations, the Eighth
Circuit has recognized a “capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review” exception to prisoners’
otherwise moot injunctive-relief requests where: (1) the challenged action is too short in duration
to be fully litigated prior to cessation or expiration; and (2) there is a reasonable expectation that
the same complaining party will be subject to the same action again. See Smith, 190 F.3d at 855;
Hickman v. State of Mo., 144 F.3d 1141, 1142 (8th Cir. 1998). The Court will address only the
second prong, as that determination will be dispositive.
The second prong of the exception asks whether there is a reasonable expectation that the
movant will be subject to the same action again. Smith, 190 F.3d at 855. At the time he filed his
motion, Plaintiff stated that he had multiple court dates scheduled in Sevier County, Arkansas,
and that, for the duration of the trial, he would be transferred to the SCDC in Sevier County. As
of the date of this Order, Plaintiff’s court dates have passed and Plaintiff has not alleged that he
will again be in the custody of the SCDC. Thus, the Court finds that, on the record before the
Court, there is no reasonable expectation that Plaintiff will be subject to the complained of
practices and policies of the SCDC in the future. As such, it is clear that Plaintiff’s situation does
not fall within the purview of the “capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review” exception.
Therefore, Plaintiff’s Motion to Order for Preliminary Injunction and TRO should be denied as
After thorough consideration, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation insofar
as it recommends denial of Plaintiff’s Motion to Order for Preliminary Injunction and TRO for
mootness. Further, the Court will not adopt the Report and Recommendation in regard to
Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction, but finds that denial is warranted for failing to
name any defendants who are parties to the present litigation. As such, Plaintiff’s Motion for
Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 43) and Motion to Order for Preliminary Injunction and TRO
(ECF No. 47) are hereby DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 20th day of January, 2017
/s/ Susan O. Hickey
Susan O. Hickey
United States District Judge
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