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Halfmann v. Walker

September 30, 2009

KEVIN HALFMANN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROGER E. WALKER, JR., AND JACKIE MILLER, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Kevin Halfmann, an inmate at the Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for the deprivation of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

CLAIMS PRESENTED

Halfmann alleges that when he was transferred to Pinckneyville Correctional Center, his copy of the "Satanic Bible" was in his personal property box. The correctional officer taking inventory took the bible and told Halfmann to either (1) send it out, (2) allow it to be destroyed, or (3) be sent to segregation. Having no one on the outside, Halfmann consented to the bible's destruction. He filed a grievance over this issue; it was denied by Defendant Miller. The denial was later approved by Defendant Walker, who cited an administrative policy that the Satanic bible was a disapproved publication. Halfmann argues that this policy violates his rights under the First Amendment; he seeks to have Pinckneyville replace the bible at their cost and to allow him to freely practice his religion.

It is well-established that "a prisoner is entitled to practice his religion insofar as doing so does not unduly burden the administration of the prison." Hunafa v. Murphy, 907 F.2d 46, 47 (7th Cir. 1990); see Al-Alamin v. Gramley, 926 F.2d 680, 686 and nn. 3-5 (7th Cir. 1991) (collecting cases). On the other hand, a prison regulation that impinges on an inmate's First Amendment rights is nevertheless valid "if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 349 (1987) (quoting Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987)). Such interests include inmate security and the proper allocation of limited prison resources. See id. at 348, 352-53; Turner, 482 U.S. at 90; Al-Alamin, 926 F.2d at 686.

Applying these standards to the allegations in the complaint, the Court is unable to dismiss any portion of this action at this time. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL

Halfmann also requests that the Court appoint him counsel (Doc. 3). There is no absolute right to appointment of counsel in a civil case. Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d 779 (4th Cir. 1975); Peterson v. Nadler, 452 F.2d 754 (8th Cir. 1971). When presented with a request to appoint counsel, the Court must make the following inquiries: "(1) has the ... plaintiff made a reasonable attempt to obtain counsel or effectively been precluded from doing so and (2) given the difficulty of the case, does the plaintiff appear competent to litigate it himself." Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d647, 854-55 (7th Cir. 2007). With regard to the first step of the inquiry, there is no indication that Plaintiff has attempted to obtain counsel or been effectively precluded from doing so. Therefore, his motion for appointment of counsel is DENIED without prejudice to refiling it at a later time.

DISPOSITION

The Clerk is DIRECTED to prepare Form 1A (Notice of Lawsuit and Request for Waiver of Service of Summons) and Form 1B (Waiver of Service of Summons) for Defendants WALKER and MILLER. The Clerk shall forward those forms, USM-285 forms submitted by Plaintiff, and sufficient copies of the complaint to the United States Marshal for service.

The United States Marshal is DIRECTED, pursuant to Rule 4(c)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to serve process on Defendants WALKER and MILLER in the manner specified by Rule 4(d)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Process in this case shall consist of the complaint, applicable forms 1A and 1B, and this Memorandum and Order. For purposes of computing the passage of time under Rule 4(d)(2), the Court and all parties will compute time as of the date it is mailed by the Marshal, as noted on the USM-285 form.

With respect to former employees of Illinois Department of Corrections who no longer can be found at the work address provided by Plaintiff, the Department of Corrections shall furnish the Marshal with the Defendant's last-known address upon issuance of a court order which states that the information shall be used only for purposes of effectuating service (or for proof of service, should a dispute arise) and any documentation of the address shall be retained only by the Marshal. Address information obtained from the Department of Corrections pursuant to this order shall not be maintained in the court file or disclosed by the Marshal.

The United States Marshal shall file returned waivers of service as well as any requests for waivers of service that are returned as undelivered as soon as they are received. If a waiver of service is not returned by a defendant within THIRTY (30) DAYS from the date of mailing the request for waiver, the United States Marshal shall:

! Request that the Clerk prepare a summons for that defendant who has not yet returned a waiver of service; the Clerk shall then ...


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