James-Bey v. N.C. Dept. of Public Safety et al
ORDER that the Plaintiff's motions Docs. 87 & 89 are DENIED and Plaintiff's motion Doc. 88 is DENIED without prejudice in accordance with the terms of this Order. The Clerk is respectfully instructed to mail Plaintiff a copy of Docket No. 85 to the address listed for Plaintiff in the docket in this matter, as it appears from the docket that Plaintiff may not have received this Order before being transferred to Bertie Correctional Institution. The Clerk i s also respectfully instructed to mail a copy of this Order to the Warden at Bertie Correctional Institution so that he/she can ensure no future issues with Plaintiff sending or receiving legal mail. Signed by Chief Judge Martin Reidinger on 4/26/2021. (Pro se litigant served by US Mail.) (rhf)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
TERRANCE L. JAMES-BEY,
KENNETH LASSITER, et al.,
THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion for Assistance
of Counsel [Doc. 87]; “Motion for Partial Judgment and Preliminary Hearing,”
which the Court construes as a motion for a preliminary injunction [Doc. 88];
and Motion to Compel Discovery [Doc. 89].
Pro se Plaintiff Terrance L. James-Bey, a North Carolina inmate
currently incarcerated at Bertie Correctional Institution (“Bertie CI”) in
Windsor, North Carolina. He filed this action on January 22, 2019, pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming thirteen Defendants. [Doc. 1]. In the original
Complaint, Plaintiff, who identifies himself as a “free born Moor,” alleged that
he was assigned to Marion Correctional Institution’s (“Marion CI”)
Rehabilitative Diversion Unit (RDU) and that Marion CI officials confiscated
both his personal property (including religious property) and legal papers in
retaliation for Plaintiff’s complaints against Defendants related to their
alleged mistreatment of him based on his religion. On initial review of
Plaintiff’s Complaint, the Court allowed Plaintiff to amend his Complaint in an
attempt to save it from dismissal. [Doc. 18]. Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint
survived initial review as to Plaintiff’s claim against Defendants Lassiter,
Corpening, Hamilton, Barker, and Bond regarding the conduct of disciplinary
hearings. The remaining Defendants and claims were dismissed. [Id.].
Plaintiff has brought several motions for injunctive relief, all of which have
been denied. [Docs. 6, 7, 9, 23, 24, 26, 27, 59, 60, 84, 85; see Docs. 73, 74,
Previously, the Court dismissed this action for Plaintiff’s failure to
prosecute based on numerous instances of the Court’s mail to Plaintiff being
returned as undeliverable on Plaintiff’s refusal to accept it. [Doc. 66]. The
Court, thereafter, on Plaintiff’s motion, reopened this case based on
Plaintiff’s assertion that he never received the returned mail and “not once
… ever abandoned this case.” [Docs. 76, 79]. In its Order reinstating this
case, the Court set the discovery deadline as May 3, 2021 and the dispositive
motions deadline as June 2, 2021. [Doc. 79]. Plaintiff has since been
transferred to Bertie CI. [Doc. 86].
Plaintiff now moves for “partial judgment and preliminary hearing,”
claiming that “Defendants have been using SRG staff to intercept and
destroy plaintiff’s OUT-GOING legal documents to prevent continued
Plaintiff requests a hearing so that he may call
witnesses, “[a]s this is an ongoing and constant repeated issue.”1 [Id.]. The
Court construes this motion as one for preliminary injunctive relief.
Preliminary injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy afforded before
trial at the discretion of the district court. In re Microsoft Corp. Antitrust Litig.,
333 F.3d 517, 524-26 (4th Cir. 2003). It is an extraordinary remedy never
awarded as of right. Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7,
24 (2008). In each case, courts “must balance the competing claims of injury
and must consider the effect on each party of the granting or withholding of
the requested relief.” Amoco Prod. Co. v. Village of Gambell, 480 U.S. 531,
542 (1987). To obtain a preliminary injunction, the plaintiff must establish (1)
that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) that he is likely to suffer
irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) that the balance of
equities tips in his favor; and (4) that an injunction is in the public interest.
It appears that Plaintiff’s pending motions were sent with a return address of another
inmate, John Steven Hardin, who does not have any matters pending in this Court.
Plaintiff’s name appears nowhere on the transmitting envelopes. [See Docs. 87-1, 88-1,
and 89-1]. These motions are the first pieces of mail the Court has received from Plaintiff
since he was transferred to Bertie CI. The Court, therefore, cannot speculate whether
Plaintiff’s mail would have reached the Court had Plaintiff used his own name on the
Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 575 F.3d 342, 346
(4th Cir. 2009).
Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunctive relief fails. The relief Plaintiff
requests does not relate to the instant lawsuit, which arises out of the
conduct of disciplinary proceedings at Marion CI.
Here, Plaintiff seeks
injunctive relief against “SRG staff” at Bertie CI related to conduct wholly
distinct from that in the instant lawsuit. It is not within the Court’s purview in
this case to order the relief sought by Plaintiff under these circumstances.
Rather, to the extent the confiscated documents consist only of Plaintiff’s
filings in this matter, Plaintiff’s remedy is first with the internal prison
grievance system, not with this Court.2 To the extent, however, that the
missing legal documents include evidence that Plaintiff intends to introduce
at the trial in this matter, Plaintiff may also raise the issue at the final pretrial
conference in this case. The Court will address the matter then. The Court
will, therefore, deny Plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief without prejudice to
Plaintiff seeking to address the matter at the final pretrial conference, if
The Court will, however, direct that a copy of this Order be sent to the Warden of Bertie
CI so that he/she can ensure that Plaintiff’s legal mail is not being hindered in any way,
as such conduct may give rise to a claim under the First Amendment for denial of access
to the courts. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). Moreover, such conduct,
were it to occur, may constitute criminal obstruction of justice.
Plaintiff also moves for the appointment of “independent counsel.”
[Doc. 87]. As grounds, Plaintiff states he needs counsel “to assure continued
litigation of this matter” “[d]ue to Defendants confiscation and destruction of
[Plaintiff’s] legal mail” and Plaintiff’s “history with NC – Prison Legal Service
undermining [his] legal endeavors and denying services and assistance.” 3
[Doc. 87]. A plaintiff must present “exceptional circumstances” to require the
Court to seek the assistance of a private attorney for a plaintiff who is unable
to afford counsel. Miller v. Simmons, 814 F.2d 962, 966 (4th Cir. 1987). The
Plaintiff here has presented nothing to show that the limited representation
of NCPLS constitutes any sort of exceptional circumstances that justify
appointment of other counsel. In addition, despite Plaintiff’s claims that his
legal mail is being obstructed, he has filed well more than his fair share of
motions and requests for relief in this case. The Court also expects that
providing a copy of this Order to the Warden at Bertie CI will remedy any
lingering problems with Plaintiff’s legal mail. Plaintiff’s motion to appoint
counsel, therefore, will be denied.
Plaintiff has also filed a “Motion to Compel Discovery.” This document,
The Court previously addressed Plaintiff’s claims of bias against the North Carolina
Prison Legal Services, which were completely unfounded. [See Doc. 82, Doc. 85 at 3-4].
however, is actually a Request for Production of Documents. As Plaintiff has
done previously, he has simply propounded a discovery request on the
Court. [See Doc. 89]. This motion will also be denied. As Plaintiff was
recently admonished [Doc. 85], discovery requests should not be filed with
the Court. Discovery materials should be exchanged between the parties
only. Any future discovery requests that Plaintiff files with the Court
that are not the subject of a proper motion to compel will be summarily
stricken from the record in this matter.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that the Plaintiff’s motions [Docs. 87
and 89] are DENIED and Plaintiff’s motion [Doc. 88] is DENIED without
prejudice in accordance with the terms of this Order.
The Clerk is respectfully instructed to mail Plaintiff a copy of Docket
No. 85 to the address listed for Plaintiff in the docket in this matter, as it
appears from the docket that Plaintiff may not have received this Order
before being transferred to Bertie Correctional Institution.
The Clerk is also respectfully instructed to mail a copy of this Order to
the Warden at Bertie Correctional Institution so that he/she can ensure no
future issues with Plaintiff sending or receiving legal mail.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Signed: April 26, 2021
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