Bates, Craig v. Hepp, Randall et al
ORDER granting plaintiff Craig T. Bates's motion for reconsideration of the July 5, 2017 order screening his complaint. Plaintiff is GRANTED leave to proceed on equal protection, retaliation, and familial association claims against defendant R andall Hepp. Plaintiff's motion regarding monitoring of his legal materials, Dkt. 16 , is DENIED. Plaintiff's motion to stay proceedings, Dkt. 29 , is GRANTED in part. The schedule is amended as follows: Dispositive Motions due Ju ly 2, 2018. Plaintiff's expert disclosures due June 1, 2018. Defendants's expert disclosures to July 2, 2018. Plaintiff's motion to amend his motion for preliminary injunctive relief, Dkt. 28 and Dkt. 32 , is GRANTED. Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunctive relief, Dkt. 21 and Dkt. 33 , is DENIED without prejudice. Signed by District Judge James D. Peterson on 1/12/2018. (jef),(ps)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
CRAIG THOMAS BATES,
REBEKA BARTEL, SANDY DE YOUNG,
L. FAIT, KARI BUSKE,
K. BELLILE, and MARK HEISE,
Pro se plaintiff Craig Thomas Bates, a prisoner at the Jackson Correctional Institution,
brings claims that prison officials have improperly refused him early release programming and
visitation with his family. Bates has filed a series of motions that I will address below.
A. Reconsideration of order screening complaint
Bates asks for reconsideration of the portion of the July 5, 2017 order screening his
complaint in which I stated that he may not proceed on a claim against defendant Warden
Randall Hepp, because he failed to explain what Hepp did to harm him. Dkt. 13, at 5. Bates
points to his allegation that Hepp recommended that the Program Review Committee add
domestic violence programming to his list of programs for the purpose of preventing him from
participating in the Earned Release Program. See Dkt. 11, at 5–6. I agree with Bates that I
overlooked this allegation in screening his claims. I already allowed Bates to proceed on equal
protection, retaliation, and familial-association claims regarding similar allegations against
defendant Rebeka Bartel, so I will also allow him to proceed on these types of claims against
B. Motion regarding monitoring of legal material
Bates has filed a letter asking the court to order the DOC to provide him with alternative
communication methods because he says that DOC staff monitors his legal materials. He says
“[u]nless I hand write any legal material I have to print it out on the WDOC’s Computer so
that staff can monitor it, giving the defendants an opportunity to read my legal material at
their will.” Dkt. 16. He suggests that typewriters were removed so that inmates would have to
use the computer.
Normally a claim that staff is hindering an inmate’s litigation efforts would belong in a
separate case. I can consider such allegations in this lawsuit to ensure that he has proper access
to the court. But his letter does not comply with the court’s rules for litigating preliminary
injunction motions, and his allegations are far too vague to warrant taking the extreme step of
intervening in prison library operations. As far as I can tell, Bates thinks that DOC staff could
spy on his computer draft work, but he does not explain whether they actually did and how he
knows that. It is not the court’s role to weigh in on whether the DOC should make computers
or typewriters available to inmates. I will deny this motion because Bates fails to show that
staff is actively interfering with his ability to litigate this action.
C. Motion to stay proceedings
Bates has filed a motion to stay the proceedings (with the exception of his motion for
preliminary injunctive relief discussed below) pending his release from prison, slated for late
February 2018. Bates says that the state is blocking his ability to litigate the case by denying
his request for extension of legal loans. The state disagrees that it is blocking Bates, noting that
the legal loan extension denial submitted by Bates shows that he justified his request for funds
by stating that he faced an October 20, 2017 deadline. But that deadline was defendants’
deadline to file a motion for summary judgment based on Bates’s failure to exhaust his
administrative remedies. So that denial did not appear to harm Bates. Bates does not provide
proof suggesting that the state would block him from completing other litigation tasks.
Nonetheless, counsel for defendants states that she does not oppose Bates’s request,
and states that she will be on family leave from mid-January to mid-April 2018. She asks the
court to stay the case and hold a new scheduling conference after May 1.
I have already stayed two other cases in which state officials are represented by
defendants’ counsel. See Walker v. Mason, 14-cv-752-jdp (W.D. Wis. Dec. 14, 2017); Riley v.
Ewing, 15-cv-592-jdp (W.D. Wis. Dec. 14, 2017). I do not believe that a full cancellation of
the current schedule is necessary here, but I will grant a portion of what the parties seek. The
trial date is in late October with a dispositive motions deadline of May 14. I will extend the
dispositive motions deadline to July 1, 2018, which should be long enough to address both
parties’ concerns. Although this does not seem to be the kind of case requiring expert
testimony, I will also extend Bates’s expert disclosure deadline to June 1, 2018, and defendants’
to July 1, 2018. I will not bar Bates from submitting filings during counsel’s leave, but he
should not expect the court or defendants to take any action on new submissions until counsel
returns from leave. Should one of the parties find these extended deadlines to be insufficient,
that party should file a new motion.
D. Motion for preliminary injunctive relief
Finally, Bates has filed a series of documents in support of a motion for preliminary
injunctive relief. Bates asked the court to issue orders: (1) “ordering a special placement need
against” non-defendant Sergeant Weirsma for ongoing acts of retaliation related to this lawsuit;
and (2) allowing his wife to visit him. See Dkt. 21. He then asked for leave to amend the
motion, stating that his original one was “grossly flawed,” Dkt. 28 and Dkt. 32, and he filed a
supplement. Dkt. 33. But even taking his submissions together, they are woefully short on facts
explaining the circumstances regarding both of the injunctions he seeks, which is reason enough
to deny the motion: for instance, it is impossible to tell from those facts whether he has any
likelihood of success on the merits of his claims. A preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary
and drastic remedy” that should be granted only when the movant carries the burden of
persuasion by a “clear showing.” Boucher v. Sch. Bd. of the Sch. Dist. of Greenfield, 134 F.3d 821,
823 (7th Cir. 1998). This is particularly so in the prison context, where the Prison Litigation
Reform Act limits the scope of preliminary injunctive relief in cases challenging prison
conditions. See 18 U.S.C. § 3626.
Although time is now short before Bates will be released from prison, he is free to try
again regarding his request for visitation. I will attach to this order a copy of the court’s
procedures for briefing motions for injunctive relief so that he can see how to draft a more
detailed motion explaining the basis for his request.
Bates should not renew his motion regarding retaliation from defendant Sergeant
Weirsma. Bates appears to be saying that Weirsma created false allegations that other
defendants used to conclude that Bates’s wife was the victim of domestic abuse, which in part
led to the denial of visitation. It is unclear why Bates did not include Weirsma as a defendant,
but even if he had, he does not explain how Weirsma is currently a danger to him other than
saying that Weirsma later filed a false conduct report in retaliation for Bates filing this lawsuit.
That retaliation is not part of the claims in this case and cannot serve as the basis for injunctive
relief here. Bates is free to bring those retaliation claims in a brand-new lawsuit if he wishes,
but I will deny his motion for preliminary injunctive relief.
IT IS ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiff Craig T. Bates’s motion for reconsideration of the July 5, 2017 order
screening his complaint, Dkt. 14, is GRANTED. Bates is GRANTED leave to
proceed on equal protection, retaliation, and familial association claims against
defendant Randall Hepp.
2. Plaintiff’s motion regarding monitoring of his legal materials, Dkt. 16, is DENIED.
3. Plaintiff’s motion to stay proceedings, Dkt. 29, is GRANTED in part. The schedule
is amended as discussed above.
4. Plaintiff’s motion to amend his motion for preliminary injunctive relief, Dkt. 28 and
Dkt. 32, is GRANTED.
5. Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunctive relief, Dkt. 21 and Dkt. 33, is DENIED
Entered January 12, 2018.
BY THE COURT:
JAMES D. PETERSON
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