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Dumas v. Garnett

January 19, 2006

JOHNNY DUMAS, INMATE #N72723, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JASON GARNETT AND R. STOUT, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff previously was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and he has tendered his initial partial filing fee as ordered.

To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(f) and 10(b), the Court finds it appropriate to break the claims in plaintiff's pro se complaint and other pleadings into numbered counts, as shown below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Against Defendant Stout for denying him access to the law library. COUNT 2: Against Defendant Stout for denying him medical services. COUNT 3: Against Defendant Stout for denying him contact with his family. COUNT 4: Against Defendant Garnett for failing to respond to his grievances.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is legally frivolous and thus subject to summary dismissal.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff states that on January 8, 2005, he was waiting in the Health Care Unit at the Lawrence Correctional Center for an appointment with a psychiatrist. He asked defendant Stout three times to use the inmate restroom in the Health Care Unit, but Stout refused. Plaintiff then lost control of his bladder and urinated on himself. Plaintiff was restrained in handcuffs and put in segregation. He was not allowed to see the psychiatrist as scheduled and had to wait until January 28, 2005, for another appointment. Plaintiff states that in segregation he is denied access to the law library, does not receive "timely medical services," causing him to hear voices and have hallucinations, and is denied contact with his family members. Plaintiff states that Defendant Stout deliberately refused his requests to use the restroom so that Plaintiff would be put in segregation, and would be denied access to the law library, medical attention, and contact with his family. Plaintiff also states that Defendant Garnett, the prison Warden, "made no effort to resolve these matters."

COUNT 1

Prisoners have no independent right of access to law libraries, but courts analyze infringements on access to legal materials under the constitutional right of access to courts. The Seventh Circuit uses a two-part test to decide if prison administrators have violated the right of access to the courts. Smith v. Shawnee Library Sys., 60 F.3d 317 (7th Cir. 1995); Jenkins v. Lane, 977 F.2d 266, 268 (7th Cir. 1992). First, the prisoner must show that prison officials failed "to assist in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." Jenkins, 977 F.2d at 268 (quoting Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977)). Second, he must be able to show "some quantum of detriment caused by the challenged conduct of state officials resulting in the interruption and/or delay of plaintiff's pending or contemplated litigation." Alston v. DeBruyn, 13 F.3d 1036, 1041 (7th Cir. 1994); Jenkins, 977 F.2d at 268; Shango v. Jurich, 965 F.2d 289, 291 (7th Cir. 1992); Howland v. Kilquist, 833 F.2d 639, 642-43 (7th Cir. 1987); Hossman v. Sprandlin, 812 F.2d 1019, 1021 n.2 (7th Cir. 1987). That means that a detriment must exist, a detriment resulting from ...


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