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February 2, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alesia, District Judge.


Before the court is (1) defendant James Edwards' motion to dismiss plaintiff Steven Lewis' complaint and (2) Lewis' amended complaint. For the following reasons, the court (1) denies Edwards' motion to dismiss as moot and (2) dismisses Lewis' amended complaint, granting him leave to submit a proposed second amended complaint by March 5, 1999.


On January 29, 1998, plaintiff Steven Edward Lewis ("Lewis") filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Lewis' complaint alleged that Cook County Jail officials violated his Constitutional rights. On June 26, 1998, the court dismissed all of Lewis' claims except for the allegation concerning the mishandling of his legal mail and dismissed Sheahan, Fairman, Velasco and Boykin as defendants. After the June 26, 1998 order, only Superintendent Edwards remained as a defendant in this action.

On August 7, 1998, Lewis filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint names Sheriff Michael Sheahan, Ernest Velasco (Director of Cook County Jail), James Edwards (Superintendent of Division 9), Verlinda Alexander (the Supervisor of Law Libraries), Mervin Boykin (Division 9 Law Librarian), Beatrice Goodwin (Mail Room Supervisor), John Stroger, Jr. (President of Cook County Board of Commissioners) and an unidentified mail clerk as defendants. In addition to asserting the claim concerning the Jail's mishandling of Lewis' legal mail, Lewis' amended complaint contains allegations regarding inadequate medical care and deficiencies in the law library. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), the amended complaint replaces the original complaint as the complaint in this case. FED.R.CIV.P. 15(a).

On September 18, 1998, defendant James Edwards ("Edwards") filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Edwards' motion to dismiss was filed solely on his behalf and addressed only the claims brought in Lewis' original complaint and not the additional claims brought by Lewis in his amended complaint.*fn1

In his amended complaint, Lewis complains of several wrongs that have allegedly been committed at the Cook County Jail ("the Jail"). Lewis' primary claim is against defendants for mishandling his legal mail. Specifically, Lewis alleges that mail from his attorneys (both trial and appellate counsel) was opened outside his presence. Lewis contends that there were at least nine separate occasions on which his legal mail was opened outside his presence. He attaches photocopied envelopes as supporting exhibits. Lewis also suspects that jail officials have interfered with his outgoing legal mail. Lewis apparently has reached this conclusion based on a statement from his appellate counsel that there was an extraordinary delay in receiving mail from Lewis. Lewis alleges that he wrote several grievances concerning the opening of his legal mail. In response to his grievances, defendants apparently apologized to Lewis for the mishandling of his mail and assured him that the problem would cease. However, Lewis complains that he has received no assurances that the information contained in the letters was not improperly divulged to the state. Lewis speculates that the information has been compromised to the state and alleges that, as a result, he has "experienced a chilling effect of a lack of confidentiality."

Lewis' amended complaint also complains about the adequacy of the law library in Division 9. Specifically, Lewis complains the library is missing numerous volumes of regional reporters, federal reporters, Supreme Court reporters, and various other law books. He contends that defendant Boykin has a practice of refusing to copy case law in the last half hour remaining of a library session, which results in prisoners tearing pages from books to obtain the information that they need. Lewis also complains that Boykin has refused to obtain missing volumes from the better equipped libraries of other divisions. Lewis further contends that although state court Judge Gillespie entered a court order providing that Lewis be allowed to visit the law library for both sessions five days a week, Lewis is only allowed to visit the library three days a week. Finally, Lewis makes various allegations regarding preferential treatment given to some inmates who attend the law library on a more frequent basis and the frequent breakdowns of the copy machine.


A. Edwards' motion to dismiss

As previously explained, Edwards' motion to dismiss was directed at Lewis' original complaint. However, Lewis has filed an amended complaint which has replaced the original complaint. Accordingly, the court denies Edwards' motion to dismiss Lewis' complaint as moot.

B. Lewis' amended complaint

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the court has reviewed Lewis' amended complaint.*fn2 For the following reasons, the court finds that the amended complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted and, ...

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