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Taylor v. Osman

April 6, 2006

COREY A. TAYLOR, INMATE #B17010, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TOMA OSMAN AND JOANNA HOSCH, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Tamms 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 Hosch for sending or forcing Plaintiff to send legal documents through institutional mail, unsealed, thereby breaching the confidentiality of the documents.

COUNT 2: Against Defendants Hosch and Osman for providing inadequate legal assistance causing detriment to his state court motion for post-conviction relief.

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

(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 that none of the claims in the complaint may be dismissed at this point in the litigation.

COUNT 1

Plaintiff states that Defendant Hosch, the paralegal assistant assigned to his housing unit, refused to come pick up his outgoing legal mail, despite her knowledge of Plaintiff's court deadline. Because of Hosch's refusal to pick up his mail, Plantiff was forced to send a motion for discovery and subpoenas through the institutional mail unsealed, thereby breaching the confidentiality of the documents. On another occasion, December 17, 2003, Defendant Hosch sent Plaintiff's legal documents to another inmate through institutional mail unsealed. And again on December 24, 2003, Defendant Hosch mailed Plaintiff's legal documents through the institutional mail unsealed. Plaintiff states that on each of these occasions the confidentiality of the documents was breached.

Inmates have a First Amendment right both to send and receive mail, Rowe v. Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 782 (7th Cir. 1999), but that right does not preclude prison officials from examining mail to ensure that it does not contain contraband, Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 576, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974); Rowe, 196 F.3d at 782. An inmate's legal mail, however, is entitled to greater protections because of the potential for interference with his right of access to the courts. Rowe, 196 F.3d at 782. Thus, when a prison receives a letter for an inmate that is marked with an attorney's name and a warning that the letter is legal mail, officials potentially violate the inmate's rights if ...


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