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Sharp v. Schorn

July 31, 2007

CURTIS R. SHARP, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
KRISTA SCHORN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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.

ACCESS TO COURTS

Plaintiff's first claim involves access to the legal services while in disciplinary segregation. According to I.D.O.C. policy, inmates in segregation may not visit the main law library. Instead, they are allowed to work in the satellite library within that housing unit. Staff from the law library make rounds of the segregation unit to take requests for copies, research and notary services; sometimes these rounds are made by prison staff, and sometimes by inmate law clerks. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Schorn and Hughes do not make rounds on a regular basis, that they take too long to respond to requests for copies, notary service, and supplies, and that they do not provide adequate assistance in preparing legal documents.

"[T]he mere denial of access to a prison law library or to other legal materials is not itself a violation of a prisoner's rights; his right is to access the courts, and only if the defendants' conduct prejudices a potentially meritorious challenge to the prisoner's conviction, sentence, or conditions of confinement has this right been infringed." Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965, 968 (7th Cir. 2006). A prisoner's complaint must "spell out, in minimal detail, the connection between the alleged denial of access to legal materials and an inability to pursue a legitimate challenge to a conviction, sentence, or prison conditions." Id.

In this case, Plaintiff makes no allegation of any detriment to any specific litigation due to the actions or inactions of Schorn or Hughes. Therefore, he has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and this claim is dismissed from this action with prejudice.

RETALIATION

Plaintiff next alleges that the motivation behind Schorn's and Hughes's actions was retaliation for grievances he filed and, more specifically, because of another civil rights lawsuit he filed in this District.

Prison officials may not retaliate against inmates for filing grievances or otherwise complaining about their conditions of confinement. See, e.g., Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005 (7th Cir. 2002); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607 (7th Cir. 2000); Babcock v. White, 102 F.3d 267 (7th Cir. 1996); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139 (7th Cir. 1988). However, the Seventh Circuit recently clarified that in order to qualify as protected speech, an inmate's complaints or grievances must be "related to matters of public concern" rather than merely a "personal gripe" about a particular incident. Pearson v. ...


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