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CARTER v. O'SULLIVAN

April 19, 1996

LEANDER CARTER, RONALD WREN, DONALD STROUD, WAYNE LEMONS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WILLIAM O'SULLIVAN, IAN OLIVER, JON HECKEL, ANGELA CROSS, S. EDWARDS, JOHN JOHNSON, ODIE WASHINGTON, LEO MEYER, STEPHEN SCHNORF, AT & T COMMUNICATIONS, DONNA BOWEN AND JOHN POWELL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:

OPINION

This case deals with telephones for inmates in an Illinois prison.

Four state prisoners have brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They sue correctional officials and telecommunications providers for alleged infringement of the Plaintiffs' First Amendment associational rights and their Sixth Amendment right of access to their attorneys.

More specifically, the Plaintiffs challenge various aspects of the collect-call system recently implemented at the Western Illinois Correctional Center.

Summary judgment will be granted in favor of all Defendants.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Cetotex Corp. v. Catrett 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Herman v. National Broadcasting Co., Inc., 744 F.2d 604, 607 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1028, 105 S.Ct. 1393, 84 L.Ed.2d 782 (1985). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992).

However, Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. at 2552. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party there is no `genuine' issue for trial." Mechnig v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 864 F.2d 1359 (7th Cir. 1988). A "metaphysical doubt" will not suffice. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Disputed facts are material only if they might affect the outcome of the suit. First Ind. Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 507-08 (7th Cir. 1992).

FACTS

The four Plaintiffs (Leander Carter, Ronald Wren, Donald Stroud and Wayne Lemons) are state prisoners. At the time the Plaintiffs commenced suit, all four were incarcerated at the Western Illinois Correctional Center. Plaintiff Stroud has since been transferred to the Shawnee Correctional Center.

The Defendant William O'Sullivan is the warden of the Western Illinois Correctional Center (hereinafter, "W.I.C.C."). The Defendants Ian Oliver and Jon Heckel are assistant wardens. The Defendant Angela Cross is a telecommunications coordinator at W.I.C.C..*fn1 The Defendant John Johnson is the prison's business administrator. The Defendants Odie Washington and Leo Meyer are, respectively, the director and deputy director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. The Defendant Stephen Schnorf is the director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.

The Plaintiffs also sue AT & T Communications and its agents, Donna Bowen and John Powell. Although the AT & T Defendants have not joined in the motion for summary judgment, the Court finds that their, too; are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Where some, but not all, parties move for summary judgment, the Court on its own motion may grant summary judgment as to non-movants as well if the motion is equally effective in barring the claim against the other defendants and the plaintiff has had an adequate opportunity to argue in opposition to the motion. Malak v. Associated Physicians, Inc., 784 F.2d 277, 280 (7th Cir. 1986).

The followings facts are uncontested for purposes of this motion: Prior to November 1994, inmates at W.I.C.C. were permitted to make unlimited, operator-assisted collect telephone calls anywhere in the United States. Inmates were not required to provide prison officials with names or telephone numbers of those they were calling.

In November of 1994, W.I.C.C. began using a new collect telephone call system. The new, computerized system provides inmates at W.I.C.C. with telephone access through the use of a personal identification number (or "PIN"). In order to use the telephone system, an inmate must provide prison officials with a list of up to thirty individuals he wishes to call. An inmate may amend his phone list on a weekly basis. Once an inmate provides prison officials with the necessary information (name, telephone number, address and relationship to the inmate) the amendment process takes about two days to complete. Inmates may still make unlimited telephone calls, to anyone on their list.

If an inmate needs to make an emergency telephone call to a person not on his list, and must do so before an amendment can be processed, the inmate may request special arrangements through Clinical Services for placing emergency calls without using the PIN system. (Plaintiff Lemons argues that such an effort would be "futile" because it takes three days to get a response to requests made to Clinical Services; however, there is no allegation that he ever had to make an emergency phone call and was unable to do so.)

All non-attorney telephone calls at W.I.C.C. are subject to monitoring and recording. To ensure that a phone call with an attorney is not monitored or recorded, an inmate must designate who on his phone list is a lawyer. Prison officials verify that persons named as attorneys are members of the Illinois bar, then activate' software that prevents the monitoring and recording of calls placed to that number.

An instruction sheet on inmate telephones advises prisoners, among other matters, that:

  (1) Called numbers may be blocked due to excessive
  use, suspicion of fraud, or harassment of called
  parties.
  (2) Customer complaints of telephone harassment will
  result in the number being blocked. In addition,
  customers may request that all phone calls from
  correctional centers be blocked.
  (3) If the called party attempts connection to a three
  way call, or activates call waiting feature during the
  call, the call will automatically terminate.

When a called party accepts a collect call from W.I.C.C., a recording makes him or her aware that activation of added features such as call-waiting, three-way calling or call transfer will result in disconnection.

The current telephone system requires that an inmate provide a direct dial number for his attorney, as call transfers would activate the cut-off feature. Inmates cannot call attorneys at a toll-free number under the new system. When requested by an inmate, W.I.C.C. officials have contacted attorneys' offices to request a direct dial number. In a few cases, W.I.C.C. has activated an override of the cut-off feature to verified attorneys when no direct dial number existed.

Some of the Plaintiffs' contacts are uncomfortable releasing to prison officials their names, addresses, telephone numbers and the nature ...


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