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Arreola v. Dudley

THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


September 2, 2009

OSCAR ARREOLA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
G. DUDLEY ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Michael Seabright United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

On August 31, 2009, pro se prisoner Plaintiff Oscar Arreola ("Plaintiff") filed a motion requesting more time in the law library ("Plaintiff's Motion").*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED.

Plaintiff states that he is "having difficulty getting into the law library to do [his] legal research" on this matter because Tallahatchie only provides inmates access to the law library once a week. See Pl.'s Mot. 1. It appears that Plaintiff has access to the law library on Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. See id. 2. Plaintiff complains that this is insufficient in comparison to the California law libraries, which he claims "lets inmates into the law library every day from [8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.] Monday [through] Friday[.]" See id.

First, Tallahatchie is not a party to this case, and therefore is not bound by an order of this court in this matter. See Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 395 U.S. 100, 110 (1969) ("It is elementary that one is not bound by a judgment in personam resulting from litigation in which he is not designated as a party or to which he has not been made a party by service of process."). Put simply, the court "has no power to adjudicate a personal claim or obligation" against Tallahatchie. Id.

Further, Plaintiff has failed to explain how his current level of access to the prison law library -- an apparent eight hours of library time once a week --has resulted in a lack of access to the courts. Inmates have "'a fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts [which] requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries[.]'" Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 346 (1996) (quoting Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977)); see also Cornett v. Donovan, 51 F.3d 894, 897 (9th Cir. 1995). Inmates, however, do not have "an abstract, freestanding right to a law library or legal assistance." Lewis, at 351; see also Vandelft v. Moses, 31 F.3d 794, 797 (9th Cir. 1994) (stating that "there is no established minimum requirement [of library time] for satisfying the access requirement" in Bounds). Accordingly, to state a claim based on denial of access to the courts, a plaintiff must allege facts demonstrating that he suffered an actual injury by being shut out of court. Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 412-15 (2002); see also id. In other words, a plaintiff must "demonstrate that the alleged shortcomings in the library or legal assistance program hindered his efforts to pursue a legal claim." Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351 (citing Bounds, 430 U.S. at 823) (emphasis added).

Plaintiff has made no such showing. To the contrary, the court has determined that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint states a cognizable claim for relief against Defendant Dr. G. Dudley ("Dudley") and directed the U.S. Marshal to serve Dudley with the Amended Complaint. As such, Plaintiff is not entitled to the relief he seeks.*fn2

The court therefore DENIES Plaintiff's Motion.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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