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Thompson v. Causey

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

April 17, 2017

MICHAEL THOMPSON PLAINTIFF
v.
MISSE CAUSEY et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Greg N. Stivers, Judge

         Plaintiff, Michael Thompson, filed a pro se complaint on this Court's form for prisoners bringing a civil-rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons set forth below, the action will be dismissed.

         I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the Warren County Regional Jail (WCRJ). He sues the WCRJ and WCRJ Correctional Officer Misse Causey in her individual capacity. His complaint alleges, in toto:

Defendants refused to allow me to go to the law library on November 30th, 2016, and December 3rd and 4th 2016. Defendants refused to call my lawyer from November 30th - December 5th, 2016. Defendants put me isolation for 6 days even though I had no disciplinary violations. Defendants repeatedly placed me in a top bunk despite my medical condition that requires me to be on a bottom bunk.

         Plaintiff asks for relief in the form of monetary and punitive damages and an injunction allowing him to sleep on the bottom bunk and giving him access to “my lawyer and law library.”

         II. ANALYSIS

         When a prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the action, if the Court determines that it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). The Court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id. at 327. When determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to Plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a reviewing court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         Law library

         Plaintiff alleges that he was not allowed to go to the law library on three different days. The courts have recognized repeatedly that there is no constitutionally protected right of access to a law library. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 350-51 (1996). Prisoners do have a right of access to the courts, but it does not guarantee access to a prison law library. Id.; Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 830-31 (1977); Walker v. Mintzes, 771 F.2d 920, 932 (6th Cir. 1985). In order to state a claim for a denial of access to the courts, a prisoner must demonstrate actual prejudice to pending litigation that challenges his conviction or conditions of confinement. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. at 351 (“[A]n inmate cannot establish relevant actual injury simply by establishing that his prison's law library or legal assistance program is subpar in some theoretical sense.”).

         Plaintiff does not allege any actual prejudice to a pending litigation challenging his conviction or conditions of confinement. Consequently, this claim will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         Access to lawyer

          Plaintiff alleges that he was not allowed to call his attorney for a period of six days. The Sixth Amendment guarantees that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” U.S. Const. amend. VI. This right includes the right to communicate with one's criminal-defense attorney while confined awaiting trial. See Maine v. Moulton, 474 U.S. 159, 170 (1985). However, Plaintiff does not allege that he did not have alternate means of communication with counsel, such as letters or personal visits. See Aswegan v. Henry, 981 F.2d 313, 314 (8th Cir. 1992) (“Although prisoners have a constitutional right of meaningful access to the courts, prisoners do not have a right to any particular means of access, including unlimited telephone use.”); White v. Blue, No. 4:15-CV-P100-JHM, 2015 WL 9244491, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Dec. 17, 2015) (finding that, where plaintiff did not allege that he ...


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