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Carl Edward Fisher v. John Monet and Marnie Raber

September 5, 2012

CARL EDWARD FISHER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN MONET AND MARNIE RABER, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Effingham County Jail, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff makes several general allegations against defendants.

First, plaintiff complains that defendants denied him access to the court by not allowing him access to the law library. One of his requests for access to the library was denied, and on an occasion that he did receive a library book it was out of date. Next, plaintiff complains about the phone system at the Effingham County Jail. Specifically, he has requested but been unable to secure a telephone call with his attorney on a phone that is not recorded. He also complains of the costs of calls at the jail, which are fifty cents per minute. Next, plaintiff alleges that inmates are locked down twenty-four hours a day and not allowed any exercise. He also complains of inadequate medical care at the jail. He does not allege a specific occasion on which he was denied adequate medical care, but generally complains that the jail does not provide medical services and inmates are exposed to diseases. Finally, plaintiff alleges that the food at the jail does not meet health department requirements causing bacteria to grow on the food. Further, he alleges that the food is not sufficiently nutritional.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint. Accepting plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that plaintiff has articulated a colorable federal cause of action:

Count 1: A claim against defendants Monet and Raber for denying plaintiff access to the courts when they denied plaintiff access to a law library.

Count 2: A claim against defendants Monet and Raber for violation of his Sixth

Amendment rights when they monitored his attorney phone calls and charged excessive fees for those calls.

Count 3: A claim against defendants Monet and Raber for violation of his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment in relation to his conditions of confinement when plaintiff was kept in 24-hour lockdown.

Count 4: A claim against defendants Monet and Raber for violation of his constitutional rights when plaintiff was denied the opportunity to exercise while he was on 24-hour lockdown.

Count 5: A claim against defendants Monet and Raber for deliberate indifference to medical needs.

Count 6: A claim against defendants Monet and Raber for violation of his Eighth

Amendment rights when they failed to provide him sanitary and nutritionally sufficient food.

Defendants Monet and Raber are dismissed from Count One without prejudice for the following reason. Prisoners have a fundamental right of meaningful access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977). This right of access extends to pretrial detainees as well as convicted prisoners. See Casteel v. Pieschek, 3 F.3d 1050, 1053 (7th Cir. 1993).

The mere denial of access to a prison law library or to other legal materials is not itself a violation of a prisoner's rights; his right is to access the courts, and only if the defendants' conduct prejudices a potentially meritorious challenge to the prisoner's conviction, sentence, or conditions of confinement has this right been infringed . . . [A] prisoner's complaint [must therefore] spell out, in minimal detail, the connection between the alleged denial of ...


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