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Balcar v. Kentucky State Reformatory

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

December 18, 2017




         Two state prisoners at the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR), Yale L. Balcar and Clarence Russell, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the Court on initial screening of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. By Memorandum Opinion and Orders entered October 24 and 25, 2017 (DNs 12 & 13), the Court dismissed Plaintiff Balcar from the action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) for failure to comply with a prior Order of this Court and for failure to prosecute. Therefore, the Court will perform its initial review on Plaintiff Russell's claims only. For the reasons that follow, the action will be dismissed.


         Plaintiff Russell sues KSR and also sues, in their individual and official capacities, KSR Warden Aaron Smith and KSR Legal Officer Casey Dowden. The complaint alleges generally that Plaintiff Russell was “Denied Access to Courts.” Much of the complaint specifically pertains to Plaintiff Balcar, who has been dismissed from this action. The Court will focus on those parts of the complaint that pertain to both Plaintiffs and only to Plaintiff Russell. The following allegations appear to apply to both Plaintiffs:

Law Libraries and Legal Assistance is close about 20 days a month her a Kentucky State Reformatory . . . .
Warden Aaron Smith and Casey Dowden is denied or lack of an adequate library or legal assistance and ledgal copy for Court is frustrated or impeded us from bring claims about our criminal conviction or sentence or about our conditions of confinement. There is a Actual injury her on my case because you cannot get to the Law library for reach and cannot get copy to send to the Court . . . .

         The only paragraph specifically to mention Plaintiff Russell is as follows:

Warden Smith want Balcar to stop all legal help to all inmates and Clarence Russell. Clarence Russell has a criminal case and is protected by the Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance to legal help and Warden Smith and Guards wont to interference with the legal help Balcar ability to consult for legal help, violate Russell rights. The Court has held that restriction to legal help by a jailhouse lawyer violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Also Balcar to Russell has the right to privacy as a Jail house lawyer under the Fourteenth Amendment right of privacy. Warden Smith and Guards cannot searches and read other prisoners legal paper as Clarence Russell that is in Balcar cell. Which they have done. They can search contraband only. Fourth Amendment claim for unreasonable cell searches is when they reads legal paper works.

         As relief, Plaintiff Russell seeks compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction to “Immediately arrange the opening of the Law Library 5 Days a weeks and in the morning and afternoon.”


         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, this Court must review the instant action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). Under § 1915A, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, 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 § 1915A(b)(1), (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 trial 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.

         In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

         Although courts are to hold pro se pleadings “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), this duty to be less stringent “does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations, ” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to create a claim for a plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require courts “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper ...

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