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United States of America v. Fred James English

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS


December 2, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FRED JAMES ENGLISH, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Fred James English's Motion for Copies (Doc. 43). Specifically, English seeks a copy of the transcripts for his change of plea hearing and sentencing hearing, presumably in anticipation of his filing a habeas petition.

Defendants have no constitutional right to a complimentary copy of any document in their court files. See United States v. Groce, 838 F. Supp. 411, 413-14 (E.D. Wis. 1993). Before providing copies free of charge, a district court may require the requestor to show the following:

(1) that he has exhausted all other means of access to his files (i.e., through his trial and appellate counsel); (2) that he is financially unable to secure access to his court files (i.e., through a showing similar to that required in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) which includes a certified copy of the prisoner's trust account for the previous six-month period prior to filing), and; (3) that the documents requested are necessary for the preparation of some specific non-frivolous court action. See United States v. Wilkinson, 618 F.2d 1215, 1218-19 (7th Cir. 1980); Rush v. United States, 559 F.2d 455, 459 (7th Cir. 1977); Groce, 838 F. Supp. at 413-14. These minimal requirements do not impose any substantial burden to financially unable prisoners who desire their records be sent to them at government expense.

Here, apart from passing mention of a general lack of funds, English makes no argument and offers no evidence to show that any of these requirements are met; as such, the Court DENIES the instant motion (Doc. 43) without prejudice. Nevertheless, the Court assures English that, if he files a non-frivolous habeas petition, the Government will be ordered to attach all relevant portions of the record in its response.

IT IS SO ORDERED

s/ J. Phil Gilbert

20101202

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