United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
HUBERT D. HILL, N47639, Plaintiff,
MADISON COUNTY, ILLINOIS, and RANDY YOUNG, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT United States District Judge
he was detained at Madison County Jail, Plaintiff Hubert Hill
filed a self-styled “Complaint of Mandamus” in
the Circuit Court of the Third Judicial Circuit in Madison
County, Illinois. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 3-5). In the Complaint,
Plaintiff alleges that Jail officials interfered with his
access to the courts in violation of his First Amendment
rights, when they refused to mail his two civil rights
complaints to the Southern District of Illinois.
(Id.). Although officials cited excessive weight,
Plaintiff insists that the Jail has no weight restrictions on
legal mail and that proper postage was provided.
(Id.). He seeks an order compelling Madison County
Jail's Superintendent (Captain Randy Young) to process
his legal mail. (Id.).
removed the case to this federal judicial district pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441, 1331, and 1446. (Doc. 1).
Plaintiff made no objection, and the Court found that removal
was proper. (Doc. 4). The Complaint is thus subject to
preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
1915A requires the Court to screen prisoner complaints and
filter out non-meritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous,
malicious, meritless, or asks for money damages from a
defendant who by law is immune from such relief must be
dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). At this juncture, the
factual allegations are liberally construed. Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
makes the following allegations in the Complaint: On April 3,
2019, Plaintiff attempted to mail two civil rights complaints
to the Southern District of Illinois. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 3-4). He
placed the complaints in an envelope with proper postage and
handed it to Sergeant Reitart. (Id.). On April 5,
2019, Sergeant Paul called Plaintiff to the front office and
informed him that the envelope exceeded the Jail's weight
limit for legal mail. (Id.). He instructed Plaintiff
to have someone pick up the “package” and mail it
to the Court on his behalf. (Id. at p. 4). When
Plaintiff requested the name of the individual who made this
decision, he learned that it was Captain Young. Plaintiff
filed his “Complaint of Mandamus” on April 11,
2019. (Doc. 1-1).
on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court designates a
single claim in this action:
Count 1: First Amendment claim against
Defendant Young for interfering with Plaintiff's access
to the courts on or around April 3, 2019.
other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not
addressed herein should be considered
dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under
Plaintiff filed a self-styled “Complaint of
Mandamus” in Illinois state court, Defendants removed
the Complaint to federal court because it focuses on a First
Amendment denial-of-court-access claim. Whether construed as
a Complaint seeking injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 or a Petition for Writ of Mandamus, it does not survive
Complaint states no claim for relief under 42 U.S.C.
§1983. To state a First Amendment claim for interference
with court access, a plaintiff must allege that the
defendants prevented him from pursuing a legitimate legal
claim. Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 671 (7th Cir.
1996); Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415
(2002). Plaintiff does not allege that either civil rights
complaint presented a “potentially meritorious”
legal claim. See Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965,
698 (7th Cir. 2006). See also Eichwedel v. Chandler,
696 F.3d 660, 673 (7th Cir. 2012) (where prisoner did not
identify any “nonfrivolous, arguable underlying claim,
” he could not pursue a claim for interference with
access to the courts). He also does not allege that
Defendants' actions rendered him unable to pursue his
legal claim. A review of public records reveals that he filed
two civil rights complaints in this federal judicial district
during the same time period that he filed the instant
Complaint. See Hill v. Lakin, et al., No.
19-cv-00405-JPG (S.D. Ill. filed April 11, 2019); Hill v.
Illinois, et al., No. 19-cv-00421-SMY (S.D. Ill. filed
April 15, 2019). Because it appears that he did so promptly
and without impediment, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted--to the extent his claim
arises from these two complaints.
extent he seeks a writ of mandamus, his Complaint runs into
more problems. Plaintiff cites no Illinois statute in support
of his request for mandamus relief, and this Court is not
empowered to issue a writ of mandamus compelling action by
state (or county) officials under 28 U.S.C. §§
request for mandamus relief also appears to be moot. On the
same date he filed his Complaint of Mandamus (April 11,
2019), he filed a civil rights complaint in the Southern
District of Illinois. See Hill v. Lakin, et al., No.
19-cv-00405-JPG (S.D. Ill. filed April 11, 2019). Four days
later, he filed a second civil rights complaint. See Hill
v. Illinois, et al., No. 19-cv-00421-SMY (S.D. Ill.
filed April 15, 2019). To the extent he requests an order