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R.L. Brooks v. Montgomery County Jail

April 27, 2012

R.L. BROOKS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:

E-FILED

Friday, 27 April, 2012 10:27:50 AM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and currently incarcerated in Stateville Correctional Center, challenges the lack of legal books and exercise/yard opportunities at the Montgomery County Jail. The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

LEGAL STANDARD

The Court is required by § 1915A to review a Complaint filed by a prisoner against a governmental entity or officer and, through such process, to identify cognizable claims, dismissing any claim that is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." A hearing is held if necessary to assist the Court in this review, but, in this case, the Court concludes that no hearing is necessary. The Complaint and its attachments are clear enough on their own for this Court to perform its merit review of Plaintiff's Complaint.

The review standard under § 1915A is the same as the notice pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 571 (7th Cir. 2000). To state a claim, the allegations must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations must give enough detail to give "'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)(add'l citation omitted). The factual "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" Id., quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged . . . . Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555-56. However, pro se pleadings are liberally construed when applying this standard. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009).

ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff alleges that he was transferred to the Montgomery County Jail (the "Jail") in July, 2011. Plaintiff sought to represent himself in his criminal case, but he was unable to do so because the Jail allegedly has no legal books whatsoever. Accordingly, Plaintiff was forced to accept the appointment of a public defender, which he believes violated his right to access the court and his right to represent himself. Plaintiff also alleges that he was denied "all forms of recreation-including yard."

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff filed this case on February 6, 2012. A few weeks before, on January 23, 2012, Plaintiff had filed a case pursuing identical claims. Brooks v. Montgomery County Jail, 12-CV-3019 (C.D. Ill., Judge Myerscough). The earlier case was dismissed on March 6, 2012 because Plaintiff was paroled on February 16, 2012, but did not provide a change of address.

In Plaintiff's earlier Complaint involving these claims he states that he is unaware of any grievance procedure he could have pursued at the Jail. The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires an inmate to exhaust available administrative remedies before filing in federal court. 42 U.S.C. ยง 1997e(a)("[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions . . . by a prisoner . . . until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted."). If a grievance procedure were available at the Jail, dismissal of this case would be required for failure to exhaust ...


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