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Harris v. Bennett

August 9, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge


Before the court are the defendants' summary judgment motion [75] and the plaintiff's response [78].


Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c); Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Herman v. National Broadcasting Co., Inc., 744 F.2d 604, 607 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1028 (1985). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992). Further, this burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If such a showing is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837. A nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must demonstrate that there is admissible evidence that will support its position. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994). Credibility questions "defeat summary judgment only '[w]here an issue as to a material fact cannot be resolved without observation of the demeanor of witnesses in order to evaluate their credibility.'" Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 838, citing Advisory Committee Notes, 1963 Amendment to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(other citations omitted).

Fed. Rule Civ. Pro. Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party there is no 'genuine' issue for trial." Mechnig v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 864 F.2d 1359 (7th Cir. 1988). A "metaphysical doubt" will not suffice. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Disputed facts are material only if they might affect the outcome of the suit. First Ind. Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 507-08 (7th Cir. 1992). The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, *247-248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986).


The Plaintiff, Otho Lee Harris, claims his First Amendment right to access the courts was violated by the Defendants, James M Carothers, Anthony C Payne, Debbie Cook,. Turnquist, Gary L Pampel, Manuel Rojas, Don Niles, Douglas A Cravens, Edward McNeil, Sheila M Love, Mark A Pierson, Donald N Snyder, Tammy S Bennett, D K Marsalea and R. E. Walker. The Plaintiff alleges that he was placed in segregation from October 7, 2002, to December 7, 2002. Plaintiff claims that during this time he was not allowed access to the law library. Plaintiff claims that, due to his lack of access to the law library, two civil actions he was pursuing were dismissed for lack of prosecution. The Defendants argue that while it is true Plaintiff's cases were dismissed, access to the law library would not have prevented their dismissal.

Undisputed Material Facts

1. The Plaintiff was an inmate incarcerated at the Hill Correctional Center at all relevant times.

2. Defendants are employed in various capacities by the Illinois Department of Corrections and at all relevant times were acting under color of state law.

3. Plaintiff was in the segregation unit at Hill Correctional Center from October 7, 2002, to December 7, 2002.

4. Plaintiff was involved in a federal habeas corpus action captioned: Harris v. Walls, USDC-NDIL 02-524. (Exhibit A)

5. Harris v. Walls, was denied based on the merits of the case on October 24, 2002. (Exhibit A, d/e 76).

6. Chief District Judge, Charles Kocoras, denied the Plaintiff's petition for writ of habeas corpus because 1) the Plaintiff's claim that his arrest should have been quashed was not appropriate for federal habeas corpus review; 2) Plaintiff's claim concerning the extended term sentence by the state trial court was not appropriate for federal review; ...

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