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Anthony Mcclure v. Western Correctional Center

June 5, 2012


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


Tuesday, 05 June, 2012 04:14:52 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and currently incarcerated in Hill Correctional Center, pursues claims arising from alleged interference with his legal mail. The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


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).


During Plaintiff's incarceration in Western Illinois Correctional Center, he corresponded with the Uptown People's Law Center, for the purpose of obtaining representation in an unidentified case. The Law Center allegedly mailed confidential legal mail to Plaintiff which was received by the prison's mail room on February 27, 2012. Plaintiff alleges that the mail room staff never delivered this confidential mail, instead destroying the letter. Plaintiff asks for injunctive relief and money damages.

Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief is moot, since he has been transferred to Hill Correctional Center, and there is no suggestion that his legal mail is being interfered with at Hill. However, he does state an arguable First Amendment claim. Prisoners have a First Amendment right to send and receive mail. Rowe v. Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 782 (7th Cir. 1999). Additionally, prisoners also have a constitutional right to have confidential legal mail opened in their presence to check for contraband, rather than outside their presence. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 577 (1974). However, sporadic or negligent violations of these general principles do not rise to Constitutional violations. See Guarjardo-Palma v. Martinson, 622 F.3d 801, 804 (7th Cir. 2010); Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 572-73 (7th Cir.2000). Those determinations must await a developed factual record. At this point, Plaintiff's allegations are sufficient to state a claim.

However, Plaintiff identifies no individuals for service, since he does not know who is responsible. Western Illinois Correctional Center is not a proper Defendant. The Court will add Warden Richard Young for the purpose of assisting Plaintiff in identifying the correct Defendant(s). Once counsel has appeared for Defendant Young, Plaintiff should send a discovery request to Young asking for the names of the mail room staff working at Western during the relevant time period. See Donald v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., 95 F.3d 548, 556 (7th Cir. 1996)(to assist a pro se plaintiff in identifying defendants, court may "allow[] the case to proceed to discovery against high-level administrators with the expectation that they will identify the officials personally responsible."). IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

1) The merit review scheduled for June 11, 2012 is cancelled. The clerk is directed to vacate the writ and to notify Plaintiff's prison of the cancellation.

2) Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A, the Court finds that Plaintiff states a federal constitutional claim arising from the alleged interference with his incoming legal mail. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the Court's discretion on motion ...

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