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Falls v. Alton City Jail

January 12, 2007

EUGENE FALLS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALTON CITY JAIL, RICHARD GILLESPIE, BOB MEYER, U.S. MARSHALS, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, a former federal pretrial detainee in the Alton, Illinois, City Jail brings this action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights by persons acting under the color of federal authority. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).

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; portions of this action are legally frivolous and thus subject to summary dismissal.

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 all defendants for failing to provide a grievance procedure in the Alton City Jail.

COUNT 2: Against all defendants for denial of access to courts.

COUNT 3: Against all defendants for denial of visitation with children and friends.

COUNT 4: Against all defendants for inadequate medical care.

COUNT 5: Against all defendants for denial of exercise.

COUNT 6: Against all defendants for unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

COUNT 7: Against Defendant Gillespie for denial of religious services.

COUNT 8: Against all defendants for punishment without due process of law.

COUNT 9: Against Defendant Gillespie for interference with mail.

COUNT 1

Plaintiff states that Alton City Jail has no grievance procedure and therefore inmates have no way to complaint about the conditions of their confinement.

An inmate has no substantive due process right to a grievance procedure in a jail; "a state's inmate grievance procedures do not give rise to a liberty interest protected by the due process clause." Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430 (7th Cir. 1995). Furthermore, Plaintiff's ability to file this lawsuit while in the jail belies any assertion that he has no avenue for redress of his grievances as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Id. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim; Count 1 is DISMISSED from the action with prejudice. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

COUNT 2

Plaintiff states that Alton City Jail has no law library, thereby limiting detainees' access to courts.

Prisoners have a fundamental right of meaningful access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977). This right of access extends to pretrial detainees as well as convicted prisoners. See Casteel v. Pieschek, 3 F.3d 1050, 1053 (7th Cir.1993). 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). Thus, a detriment must exist, a detriment resulting from illegal conduct that affects litigation. Kincaid v. Vail, 969 F.2d 594, 603 (7th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1062 (1993). "[T]he mere denial of access to ...


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