UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
December 2, 2010
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
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
© 1992-2010 VersusLaw Inc.