United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
TAIWAN M. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
LT. CRANMER, SGT. COLE, OFFICER COOK, OFFICER PHILLIPS, OFFICER ROSS, OFFICER HAWKINS, and OFFICER SNYDER, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert United States District Judge
is currently incarcerated at the Alton City Jail (“the
Jail”). He originally brought his claims in a joint
action filed on October 10, 2017, with several other Alton
inmates, Pasley, et al., v. Crammer, et al., Case
No. 17-cv-1085-JPG. After the original Complaint was
dismissed, Plaintiff filed an individual Complaint on
February 8, 2018. (Doc. 2). In it, he asserts that he was
denied access to legal material, and was thus unable to file
a motion in his criminal case. Plaintiff's claims were
severed into this action on March 1, 2018. (Doc. 1). The case
is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under §
1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to
filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion of the
complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for
money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that “no
reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.”
Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir.
2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross
“the line between possibility and plausibility.”
Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on
its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations
as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th
Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or
implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a
plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574,
581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not
accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a
cause of action or conclusory legal statements.”
Id. At the same time, however, the factual
allegations of a pro se complaint are to be
liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d
742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claim
survives threshold review under § 1915A.
claim focuses only on Count 3 of the original action, which
the Court described as follows:
denied Plaintiff access to the courts in violation of the
First Amendment. (Doc. 29 in Pasley, et al., v. Crammer,
et al., Case No. 17-cv-1085-JPG).
states that he is a federal prisoner. (Doc. 2, p. 1, Doc.
2-1). The Jail does not have a law library, so at some point
Plaintiff was informed that the correctional officers would
provide him with legal materials “through
request.” (Doc. 2, p. 1). However, after a “short
period, ” officers stopped accepting requests for legal
material and case law. Id. Plaintiff alleges that
Cranmer and Ross told the Jail's correctional officers
not to give out case law material. Id.
attaches an “Alton Police Department Federal Prisoner
Grievance Procedure Form” dated October 12, 2017. (Doc.
2-1). Plaintiff talked to Phillips about obtaining legal case
law. Plaintiff had requested case law in order to oppose a
“stay” that was filed by the Assistant U.S.
Attorney in Plaintiff's criminal case. United States
v. Davis, Case No. 17-cr-30055-NJR (S.D. Ill.). (Doc. 2,
p. 5; Doc. 2-1). Phillips told Plaintiff that he would have
to do his own personal investigation in order to give
Plaintiff a copy of a case. Phillips never provided Plaintiff
with the requested case, even though Plaintiff told Phillips
that his head Defense Counsel gave permission for Plaintiff
to have it. Based on this denial, Plaintiff claims that
Phillips denied him access to prepare a motion under Rule
3(c) for a Section 2255 proceeding. (Doc. 2-1).
seeks nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages. (Doc. 2,
p. 6). He also requests an injunction to remove him from the
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to characterize this pro se action in a
single count, and for clarity, will maintain the number
assigned to this count in the original action. The parties
and the Court will use this designation in all future
pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial
officer of this Court. The designation of this count does not
constitute an opinion as to its merit. Any other claim that
is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order
should be considered dismissed without prejudice.
Count 3: Defendants denied Plaintiff access
to the courts in violation of the First ...