McCoy v. Edmeister et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, Plaintiff's Motion (Doc. 114 ) for Extension of Time to File a Reply is GRANTED and plaintiff's Response and Objection is deemed timely filed. The Court ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation (Doc. 112 ) with regard to qualified immunity as to damages, but REJECTS that portion recommending that injunctive relief is still available to the plaintiff. The Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion (Doc. 74 ) for Summary Judgment and this matter is DISMISSED without prejudice. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to enter judgment accordingly. Signed by Judge J. Phil Gilbert on 10/17/2016. (jdh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
CHRISTOPHER H. MCCOY,
ERIC T. EDMISTER, et al.,
Case No. 14-cv-01379-JPG-DGW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter comes before the court on the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) (Doc.
112) of Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson with regard to Defendants Eric T. Edmeister and
Jeffrey S. Walton’s Motion (Doc. 74) for Summary Judgment Regarding Qualified Immunity.
The defendants filed a Partial Objection (Doc. 113) and the plaintiff filed a Response and
Objection (Doc. 115) to the R & R. The Court notes that the plaintiff filed a Motion (Doc. 114)
for Extension of Time to File a Reply. The Court grants the extension and plaintiff’s Response
and Objection is deemed timely filed.
The plaintiff is proceeding in this matter on two counts of violation of his First
Amendment rights. In Count I, plaintiff alleges that defendant Edmister read, and censored by
retaining, plaintiff’s privileged attorney-client correspondence and documents. Count II alleges
that defendant Walton retained and refused to return the confiscated privileged attorney-client
correspondence and documents. The defendants move for summary judgment arguing that they
are entitled to qualified immunity.
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The Court may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations
of the magistrate judge in a report and recommendation. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). The Court
must review de novo the portions of the report to which objections are made. The Court has
discretion to conduct a new hearing and may consider the record before the magistrate judge
anew or receive any further evidence deemed necessary. Id. “If no objection or only partial
objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error.”
Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999).
The R & R recommends that the motion for summary judgment be granted and that
defendants Edmister and Walton are entitled to qualified immunity with regard to plaintiff’s
claims for damages.
Defendants’ partial objection applies only to that portion which
recommends that the plaintiff’s claims for injunctive relief survive.
Defendants note that
plaintiff’s claims for injunctive relief are moot, because the plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at
USP Marion – where defendant Edmister is a correctional counselor - and that defendant Walton
is no longer employed by the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). As such, neither defendant can
provide the injunctive relief requested. The defendants also argue that there is nothing to suggest
that either defendant is in possession of the requested material as the plaintiff testified that he
saw the material in Counselor Pitts’ office – not in the possession of either defendant.
Finally, the defendants argue that “qualified immunity may not resolve claims for
injunctive relief in certain circumstances,” but that the R & R’s recommended findings resolve
claims for damages as well as injunctive relief since they support a ruling on the first prong of
the qualified immunity analysis.
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Plaintiff’s Response and Objections to the R & R argues that the R & R, “revisits ground
already decided and denied to the Defendants but, now that same ground sown with the same
seed produces a different fruit” and “magically it transforms itself into a whole new idea, thought
and magically a different result happens.” (Doc. 115, pg 2). Plaintiff also cites to “BOP PS
1315.07(10(d)” stating that, “Paragraph (2) there states ‘Staff may allow an inmate to possess
those legal materials which are necessary for the inmates own legal action.’” (Correct citation 28
C.F.R. § 543.11(d)(2), underline in brief, not in original text.) The Court notes that paragraph
(2) also goes on to state that, “The Warden may limit the amount of legal materials an inmate
may accumulate for security or housekeeping reasons.” By the plaintiff’s own argument and
citation to BOP regulations, the staff “may,” but are not required to, allow an inmate to possess
legal materials and that the Warden may limit the amount.
As such, the Court has reviewed de novo that portion of the R&R with regard to qualified
immunity. The Court agrees and adopts the well-reasoned analysis contained in the R & R that
the defendants’ conduct did not raise to a violation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.
With regard to the plaintiff’s arguments that this is, “same ground sown” as in “Doc # 25,
Doc #26, Doc # 30, Doc #41 and Defendants Doc 291,” the Court has reviewed these prior
documents. Threshold review and a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss deal with pleadings. Pro se
pleadings are liberally construed and are not required to explicitly refer to a proper statute or
legal theory in order to state a cause of action - as long as relief is possible under the statute or
theory consistent with the facts pled. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Hudson v.
McHugh, 148 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir. 1998) and Kennedy v. National Juvenile Detention Ass’n,
Document #25 is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim; Document #26 is Plaintiff’s
Response; Document #30 is Plaintiff’s “More Complete Status of Government Destroyed Material Evidence”;
Document #41 is Plaintiff’s Reply to Defendants’ Response to R&R; and Document 29 is Defendants’ Status Report
Regarding Availability of Sentencing Transcript.
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187 F.3d 690, 695 (7th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 120 S. Ct. 1169 (2000); Tolle v. Carroll Touch,
Inc., 977 F.2d 1129, 1134 (7th Cir. 1992).
These are not the same standards that apply to
qualified immunity. Defendants’ motion to dismiss was limited to the four corners of the
complaint and the Court could not consider BOP’s policies with regard to legal and/or sensitive
A motion for summary judgment; however, considers documents beyond the
complaint including defenses, regulations, and deposition testimony. Therefore, although similar
issues were previously addressed by this Court, a different outcome may result given the
standard under which the analysis is conducted.
The Plaintiff does not cite to any case law or regulation that requires BOP officials to
allow the plaintiff to possess any amount of legal materials within a prisoner’s cell – only that
the plaintiff must have access to those materials. Further, “[t]he legal materials are subject to
inspection and may be read or copied unless they are received through an authorized attorney
visit from a retained attorney or are properly sent as special mail (for example, mail from a court
or from an attorney), in which case they may be inspected for contraband or for the purpose of
verifying that the mail qualifies as special mail.” 28 C.F.R. § 543.11(d)(1).
The difficulty that the Court is having is determining whether the plaintiff has, or has
had, access to his legal documents. Plaintiff’s objection to the R & R requests that the Court,
“explain to the Plaintiff where the Plaintiff’s 600+ pages of legal materials went.” (Doc. 115).
According to his initial grievance, the plaintiff stated, “The issue here is not access, but rather the
reading and keeping of my attorney-client privileged legal mail.” (Doc. 74-4, pg 39.) Therefore,
at the time plaintiff filed his grievance, it appears that the BOP had the documents and that the
plaintiff could access the materials in questions. It also appears that at the time that plaintiff filed
this case, he had access through his counselor to his legal documents.
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At some point thereafter, it appears that the documents were lost.
At least by the time of the
plaintiff’s deposition, the documents could not be located. During his deposition, the plaintiff
testified that he does not need access to those documents because he has appellate counsel.
Further, when learning that the documents were lost, the plaintiff states that he made no attempts
to acquire a duplicate copy of the documents. (Doc. 74-4, pg 28 & 29). As such, the defendants’
argument that the issue of injunctive relief is now moot is correct. The documents are no longer
in the possession of the BOP and the Plaintiff has testified that he no longer requires the
Further, neither defendant in this matter could provide the injunctive relief
Based on the above, Plaintiff’s Motion (Doc. 114) for Extension of Time to File a Reply
is GRANTED and plaintiff’s Response and Objection is deemed timely filed. The Court has
reviewed the objected portions of the R & R de novo and finds that defendants Edmister and
Walton are entitled to qualified immunity. The Court has also reviewed the entire file and finds
that the unobjected to portions of the R & R are not clearly erroneous. Accordingly, the Court
hereby ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation (Doc. 112) with regard to qualified immunity
as to damages, but REJECTS that portion recommending that injunctive relief is still available
to the plaintiff. As such, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ Motion (Doc. 74) for Summary
Judgment and this matter is DISMISSED without prejudice. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED
to enter judgment accordingly.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/J. Phil Gilbert
J. PHIL GILBERT
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