United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
WILLIE J. BOOKER, # B-61837, Plaintiff,
BRYAN GLECKLER and TERRI ANDERSON, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.
Plaintiff Willie J. Booker, an inmate at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this action for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The action was originally filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, but was transferred to this District on June 11, 2015 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1404(a). ( See Doc. 5). In addition to the complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff has filed a motion for temporary restraining order ("TRO") and a motion for preliminary injunction (Doc. 4), as well as a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") (Doc. 3). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, a federal court may permit a prisoner who is indigent to bring a "suit, action or proceeding, civil or criminal, " without prepayment of fees upon presentation of an affidavit stating the prisoner's assets together with "the nature of the action... and affiant's belief that the person is entitled to redress." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). However, even when a plaintiff has tendered an affidavit of indigence that is sufficient as to form, he may nonetheless be barred by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)
if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
A review of documents filed in the electronic docket of this Court, and on the Public Access to Court Electronic Records ("PACER") website (www.pacer.gov), reveals that Plaintiff has had three cases dismissed as frivolous or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Booker v. City of Rkfd., IL, Case No. 03-cv-50066 (N.D. Ill., dismissed March 27, 2003); Booker v. Mitchell, Case No. 10-cv-0312 (S.D. Ill., dismissed November 5, 2010); Booker v. O'Conner, Case No. 15-cv-50052 (N.D. Ill., dismissed April 14, 2015). As such, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) bars Plaintiff from proceeding IFP unless he is "under imminent danger of serious physical injury." Therefore, for Plaintiff to proceed with this case in forma pauperis and on his motion for TRO, he must satisfy the Court that he is in imminent danger.
Plaintiff, a convicted sex offender and former member of the Gangster Disciples, is confined at Menard Correctional Center, a maximum security correctional center in Illinois. (Doc. 1, p. 4). He is classified as severely mentally ill and has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Id. He has been housed at Menard since 2004. ( See Doc. 1, Ex. 2).
On December 12, 2014, Plaintiff received a letter stating that he had been declared an enemy of the people and that he had 72 hours to check himself into protective custody. Id. Plaintiff disposed of the letter. Id. A few days later, members of the Gangster Disciples were trying to get Plaintiff moved into a particular cell on the gallery. In "fear of his life, " Plaintiff requested to be placed in protective custody, and on December 22, 2014, he was placed in protective custody. Id. at 5. The next day, Plaintiff was interviewed and informed staff about the threatening letter he had received, but was unable to produce it because he had thrown it away. Id. That night, he received a second letter, which stated, "Face [his nickname] look at the picture. We know what you are there is no cellhouse you can go in if you bring your sex offender ass out of protective custody were gonna kill you." Id. (errors in original). Attached to the letter was a computer printout, which contained Plaintiff's photo and information related to his conviction for aggravated criminal sexual assault. Id. On December 29, 2014, Plaintiff was informed that he had been denied placement in protective custody.
Plaintiff filed a grievance challenging the decision to deny him protective custody and appeared before the Administrative Review Board, including Defendant Anderson, on February 4, 2015. Id. Plaintiff testified that he was afraid his former gang members were going to kill him because he refused to participate in their activities and also because he refused to provide legal assistance to his former gang members. Id. at 6. Plaintiff was interviewed by additional staff members on later dates and provided them with a copy of the second letter he received on December 23, 2014. Id. at 7.
In a report dated February 4, 2015, Defendant Anderson found that there was no information available to confirm the validity of the letter and that the letter did not seem "logical." Id. at Ex. 2. On this basis, the Board recommended denying Plaintiff's request for protective custody, and Defendant Gleckler concurred. Id. at 7.
On March 20, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred out of protective custody and back into the general population at Menard. Id. At that time, Plaintiff attempted to sign back in to protective custody, but was denied. Plaintiff, in fear of his safety, began experiencing chest pains. He was admitted to the health care unit a few days later. Id. at 8. While in the health care unit, Plaintiff went on a hunger strike in an attempt to prevent his return to general population. Id. Plaintiff's hunger strike lasted approximately 43 days, during which time he lost 29 pounds. Id. at 10. From May 1 through May 5, prison officials force-fed Plaintiff. Id. at 9. Plaintiff ended his hunger strike on May 5 and was sent to segregation the next day. Id. Warden Butler placed Plaintiff on one-man cell status to ensure Plaintiff's safety. Id. Plaintiff remains in segregation, according to the complaint, but he still fears for his safety and refuses to come out of his cell at any time when he might have contact with other inmates. Id. at 10. Plaintiff has been diagnosed with a severe mental illness. Plaintiff contends that his present isolation is causing his mental health to further deteriorate. Id.
The first question the Court must address is whether Plaintiff has sufficiently pled that he is in imminent danger. Because Plaintiff has accumulated three strikes, he may only proceed without prepaying court ...