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Franklin Taylor v. Teresa Casteel et al

December 30, 2010


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


Thursday, 30 December, 2010 09:01:09 AM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

Case Management Order and Summary Judgment

The plaintiff pursues a First Amendment claim arising from the confiscation of his legal ad seeking legal representation. The ad contained a photo of the plaintiff with the background altered. The defendants have moved for summary judgment, which is granted for the reasons below.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Any discrepancies in the factual record should be evaluated in the non-movant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). 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. "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A party opposing summary judgment bears the burden to respond, not simply by resting on its own pleading but by "set[ting] out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). "If [the non-movant] does not [meet his burden], summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against [the non-movant]." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). 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).


The events occurred while the plaintiff was incarcerated at Graham Correctional Center in late 2006, early 2007. He is currently incarcerated in Menard Correctional Center.

The plaintiff sent a written legal ad seeking legal representation for his wrongful conviction, along with $40.95, to an organization called Friends Beyond The Wall, Inc., for posting on the organization's website. The plaintiff's original ad had no picture of him, and the plaintiff did not provide any picture of himself to Friends Beyond The Wall, Inc.. However, the organization "photo-shopped" a picture of the plaintiff into the ad, changing the background of the picture. (d/e 93-1). The court cannot tell from the photo in the record what the changed background is, but apparently it was substituted for the original background for appearance's sake. The plaintiff surmises that the organization downloaded the picture from the IDOC's website. The plaintiff's ad, with the picture, was posted on the organization's website. The organization also returned a copy of the ad (with the picture on it) to the plaintiff. The ad passed the mailroom's inspection and was delivered to the plaintiff.

Defendant Casteel worked as Graham's librarian during the relevant time. In late December, 2006, after receiving a copy of his ad from Friends Beyond the Wall, the plaintiff took the ad to the library and asked Casteel to make copies of it. He intended to send the ad to law firms in an effort to obtain legal representation for his wrongful conviction claims. Casteel did provide the copies, though she avers that she had misgivings at the time about the photograph on the ad. Soon after, Casteel came to the conclusion that the ads were contraband because they contained a photo of the plaintiff with an altered background. Casteel asserts that she asked someone in internal affairs if altered photographs were considered contraband and was told that they were. The plaintiff disputes that Casteel ever consulted anyone in internal affairs. He believes that she acted on her own out of retaliation or dislike for him. The dispute is immaterial.

On January 3, 2007, the plaintiff approached the circulation desk in the library, in order to ask for a reference book. Casteel directed the plaintiff to hand over the papers he was carrying, and she rifled through them and confiscated all of the copies of the ads.*fn1 That day she wrote the plaintiff a disciplinary report for insolence, unauthorized contraband, abuse of privileges, disobeying a direct order, and intimidation/threats. She wrote:

. . . when offender . . . approached the circulation desk, this library associate asked to see his papers. I knew this offender was in possession of what I considered, at this time, to be unauthorized contraband. While I had his papers in my hand, pulling out 2 sheets of paper/letters written by "Friends beyond the wall" . . . This letter had offender Taylor's IDOC photo on it with the background of this photo altered. When this library associate . . . pulled these papers out, Offender Taylor grabbed for these papers. When he came at me, I stepped back from him. The circulation desk was between us, which stopped him from proceeding. He did not succeed in taking the papers from my hands. This offender was aggressive in nature and action. Taylor yelled I could not take them from him, they were his, he paid for them. He was asked to leave the library. . . .

(d/e 93-1, p. 21-22).

The Adjustment Committee, composed of Defendants Lipe and Andries, found the plaintiff not guilty of disobeying a direct order. However, they found the plaintiff guilty of intimidation/threats, abuse of privileges, contraband/unauthorized property, and insolence. The ...

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