SANTAIS v. CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS of the Magistrate Judge that the Court DENY Plaintiff's 38 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction for Law Library Access Time. The Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation to file specifi c written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and Recommendation is entered. (Objections to R&R due by 2/9/2018). ORDER directing service of the REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge. Signed by Magistrate Judge R. Stan Baker on 1/26/2018. (ca)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
CIVIL ACTION NO.: 5:16-cv-80
ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Discovery, (doc. 31),
Motion to Appoint Counsel, (doc. 32), and Motion for Preliminary Injunction for Law Library
Access Time, 1 (doc. 38). Defendant filed Responses opposing Plaintiff’s Motions to Compel
and to Appoint Counsel. (Docs. 34, 35.) Plaintiff filed a Reply regarding his Motion to Appoint
Counsel. (Doc. 36.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s Motions to
Compel Discovery and to Appoint Counsel. (Docs. 31, 32.) Further, I RECOMMEND that the
Court DENY Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction for Law Library Access Time.
(Doc. 38.) Additionally, the Court gives instructions to Defendant regarding Plaintiff’s motion
for the return of his law library access time.
“Federal courts sometimes will ignore the legal label that a pro se litigant attaches to a motion and
recharacterize the motion in order to place it within a different legal category.” Retic v. United States,
215 F. App’x 962, 964 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Castro v. United States, 540 U.S. 375, 381 (2003)).
Federal courts “may do so in order to avoid an unnecessary dismissal, to avoid inappropriately stringent
application of formal labeling requirements, or to create a better correspondence between the substance of
a pro se motion’s claim and its underlying legal basis.” Id. (quoting Castro, 540 U.S. at 381–82). The
Court construes Plaintiff’s “Motion for Court Order [for] Prison Officials of Coffee Correctional Facility
Through Defendant Jones to Give Back to the Plaintiff His Law Library Time they Threw Off, (doc. 38),
as a motion for preliminary injunction.
Plaintiff, an inmate at Coffee Correctional Facility in Nicholls, Georgia, filed this action,
pro se, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contesting certain conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1.)
After frivolity review, Plaintiff’s surviving Eighth Amendment claims were limited to those
against the above-named Defendant in his individual capacity for compensatory and punitive
damages under Section 1983, as well as injunctive relief. (Docs. 20, 27.) On October 5, 2016,
Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment contending the undisputed facts show he did
not use excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment and Plaintiff is not entitled to an
injunction, and that Motion remains pending. (Doc. 28.) Plaintiff filed a Response. (Doc. 30.)
Subsequently, Plaintiff filed his aforementioned Motions to Compel Discovery, to Appoint
Counsel, and for Law Library Access Time, (docs. 31, 32, 38), and Defendant filed his
Responses in opposition, (docs. 34, 35). Per the Court’s Scheduling Notice, discovery closed on
June 27, 2017, and the proposed Pretrial Order was submitted on August 25, 2017. (Docs. 24,
Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Discovery (Doc. 31)
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel Discovery, contending Defendant failed to respond to
his August 10, 2016 request for production of documents. (Doc. 31, p. 2.) However, Plaintiff
does not indicate that he has complied with this Court’s Local Rule 26.5. Plaintiff does not
provide any specific grounds he has for filing the Motion, much less reasons to support those
grounds. Additionally, Plaintiff provides no certification to show that he has in good faith
conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party that allegedly failed to make the
disclosure in an effort to obtain a response without Court action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1).
Plaintiff simply states that he “submitted a motion” for various documents but has yet to receive
them. (Doc. 31, p. 2.) He provides no evidence of these submissions, and furthermore, he gives
no indication that he at all tried to resolve this dispute before coming to Court. In response,
Defendant avers that Plaintiff never served any discovery on that date or any other date. (Doc.
34, p. 2.)
Defendant supports this claim with two adjoining affidavits.
(Id. at pp. 4–6.)
Moreover, the Court notes that discovery closed on June 27, 2017. Accordingly, the Court
DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel.
Plaintiff’s Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 32)
In this civil case, Plaintiff has no constitutional right to the appointment of counsel.
Wright v. Langford, 562 F. App’x 769, 777 (11th Cir. 2014) (citing Bass v. Perrin, 170 F.3d
1312, 1320 (11th Cir. 1999)). “Although a court may, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1),
appoint counsel for an indigent plaintiff, it has broad discretion in making this decision, and
should appoint counsel only in exceptional circumstances.” Wright, 562 F. App’x at 777 (citing
Bass, 170 F.3d at 1320). Appointment of counsel in a civil case is a “privilege that is justified
only by exceptional circumstances, such as where the facts and legal issues are so novel or
complex as to require the assistance of a trained practitioner.” Fowler v. Jones, 899 F.2d 1088,
1096 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing Poole v. Lambert, 819 F.2d 1025, 1028 (11th Cir. 1987), and Wahl
v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1174 (11th Cir. 1985)). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has
explained that “the key” to assessing whether counsel should be appointed “is whether the pro se
litigant needs help in presenting the essential merits of his or her position to the court. Where the
facts and issues are simple, he or she usually will not need such help.” McDaniels v. Lee, 405 F.
App’x 456, 457 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Kilgo v. Ricks, 983 F.2d 189, 193 (11th Cir. 1993)).
The Court has reviewed the record and pleadings in this case and finds no “exceptional
circumstances” warranting the appointment of counsel.
While the Court understands that
Plaintiff is incarcerated, this Court has repeatedly found that “prisoners do not receive special
consideration notwithstanding the challenges of litigating a case while incarcerated.” Hampton
v. Peeples, No. CV 614-104, 2015 WL 4112435, at *2 (S.D. Ga. July 7, 2015). “Indeed, the
Eleventh Circuit has consistently upheld district courts’ decisions to refuse appointment of
counsel in 42 U.S.C. § 1983 actions similar to this case for want of exceptional circumstances.”
Id. (citing Smith v. Warden, Hardee Corr. Inst., 597 F. App’x 1027, 1030 (11th Cir. 2015);
Wright, 562 F. App’x at 777; Faulkner v. Monroe Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, 523 F. App’x 696, 702
(11th Cir. 2013); McDaniels v. Lee, 405 F. App’x 456, 457 (11th Cir. 2010); Sims v. Nguyen,
403 F. App’x 410, 414 (11th Cir. 2010); Fowler, 899 F.2d at 1091, 1096; Wahl, 773 F.2d at
1174). As shown by his many competent pleadings, including those presently before the Court,
this case is not so complex legally or factually to prevent Plaintiff from presenting “the essential
merits of his position” to the Court.
The Court recognizes English is not Plaintiff’s first
language, (doc. 36), but finds that his filings and communications with the Court demonstrate an
understanding proficient to proceed without appointment of counsel. For these reasons, the
Court DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion to Appoint Counsel.
Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction for Law Library Access Time
In his Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, Plaintiff requests that the Court order prison
officials to grant him the legal research time he had prior to September 29, 2017, which was
three days each week. (Doc. 38, p. 2.) Plaintiff submits he has had this level of access for three
years and provides supporting documentation showing the truth of this claim. (Id.; Doc. 38-1,
pp. 6–9.) Plaintiff argues his access was revoked to harm his lawsuit and done so in violation of
his Constitutional rights. (Doc. 38, pp. 2–3.)
To be entitled to a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must
demonstrate: (1) a substantial likelihood of ultimate success on the merits; (2) that a restraining
order or injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable injury; (3) that the threatened injury
outweighs the harm that the restraining order or injunction would inflict on the other party; and
(4) that the restraining order or injunction would not be adverse to the public interest. Schiavo
ex rel. Schindler v. Schiavo, 403 F.3d 1223, 1225–26 (11th Cir. 2005). Similarly, a plaintiff
requesting a permanent injunction must satisfy the following four-factor test:
(1) that [the plaintiff] has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies
available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that
injury; (3) that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and
defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would
not be disserved by a permanent injunction.
eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388, 391 (2006). Thus, “[t]he standard for a
permanent injunction is essentially the same as for a preliminary injunction except that the
plaintiff must show actual success on the merits instead of a likelihood of success.” Siegel v.
LePore, 234 F.3d 1163, 1213 (11th Cir. 2000) (Carnes, J., dissenting). 2 In either case, an
“injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy not to be granted unless the movant clearly
established the ‘burden of persuasion’ as to the four requisites.” Horton v. City of Augustine,
272 F.3d 1318, 1326 (11th Cir. 2001).
If a plaintiff succeeds in making such a showing, then “the court may grant injunctive
relief, but the relief must be no broader than necessary to remedy the constitutional violation.”
A permanent injunction requires a showing of actual success on the merits, and the Court has not yet
issued a ruling on this case. However, the Court construes Plaintiff’s Motion more liberally as a Motion
for Preliminary Injunction and will apply the lesser “substantial likelihood of ultimate success on the
Newman v. State of Ala., 683 F.2d 1312, 1319 (11th Cir. 1982). Accordingly, where there is a
constitutional violation in the prison context, courts traditionally are reluctant to interfere with
prison administration and discipline, unless there is a clear abuse of discretion. See Procunier v.
Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 404–05 (1974) (“Traditionally, federal courts have adopted a broad
hands-off attitude toward problems of prison administration [because] . . . courts are ill equipped
to deal with the increasingly urgent problems of prison administration and reform.”), overruled
on other grounds by Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401 (1989). In such cases, “[d]eference to
prison authorities is especially appropriate.” Newman, 683 F.2d at 1320–21 (reversing district
court’s injunction requiring release of prisoners on probation because it “involved the court in
the operation of the State’s system of criminal justice to a greater extent than necessary” and less
intrusive equitable remedy was available).
In his request for injunctive relief, Plaintiff asserts separate denial of legal access and
retaliation claims. Because those claims are not before the Court based on any of Plaintiff’s
previous filings, the Court obviously cannot grant Plaintiff injunctive relief on those claims. 3
Moreover, at this point, Plaintiff has not established a substantial likelihood of ultimate success
on the merits of his excessive force claims. Further, based on the course of proceedings, it does
not appear that Plaintiff has suffered any irreparable injury stemming from him not having access
to the prison’s law library because he has been able to oppose Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment and file other pleadings with the Court. For these reasons, I RECOMMEND that the
Court DENY Plaintiff’s Motion for a Permanent Injunction.
However, in an abundance of caution, the Court DIRECTS counsel for Defendant to
contact the administration at Coffee Correctional Facility within five days of the date of this
To the extent Plaintiff sets forth claims constitutional claims for retaliation and denial of legal access
against Coffee Correctional officials, he can file those claims in a separate cause of action.
Order to ensure that Plaintiff is receiving the access to legal materials and authorities that the
Department of Corrections’ operating procedures require an inmate such as Plaintiff receive.
Defendant is reminded that “the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires
prison authorities to . . . provid[e] prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance
from persons trained in the law.” Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977). The Court offers
no opinion as to whether Plaintiff has received inadequate access to legal materials to date or
whether Plaintiff has suffered a constitutional violation as a result of these allegations.
Nonetheless, the Court directs counsel to take this precautionary measure to ensure that Plaintiff
has an opportunity to fairly litigate this action.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s Motions to Compel
Discovery and to Appoint Counsel. (Docs. 31, 32.) Further, I RECOMMEND that the Court
DENY Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction for Law Library Access Time. (Doc. 38.)
The Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to that Recommendation to file specific
written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and
Recommendation is entered. Any objections asserting that the Magistrate Judge failed to address
any contention raised in the Complaint must also be included. Failure to do so will bar any later
challenge or review of the factual findings or legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). A copy of the objections must be
served upon all other parties to the action. The filing of objections is not a proper vehicle
through which to make new allegations or present additional evidence.
Upon receipt of Objections meeting the specificity requirement set out above, a United
States District Judge will make a de novo determination of those portions of the report, proposed
findings, or recommendation to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. Objections not
meeting the specificity requirement set out above will not be considered by a District Judge. A
party may not appeal a Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation directly to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Appeals may be made only from a final
judgment entered by or at the direction of a District Judge. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED
to serve a copy of this Report and Recommendation upon the Plaintiff.
SO ORDERED and REPORTED and RECOMMENDED, this 26th day of January,
R. STAN BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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