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John Francis v. Matthew Cate

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


January 20, 2011

JOHN FRANCIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MATTHEW CATE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel with a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On December 9, 2010, plaintiff filed a document stating he has been denied "all access to the law library." (Dkt. No. 56 at 1.) Plaintiff states he has filed "numerous inmate requests for interview," requests for copies of cases he needs, and two emergency 602 appeals, which he claims have been processed normally. (Id.)

However, plaintiff does not explain why he has been denied access. It is unclear whether plaintiff is housed in administrative segregation and is therefore subject to more limited access and must rely on prison officials to provide him with copies of legal research he requests. Therefore, the court is unable to discern whether plaintiff has followed prison procedure in seeking to obtain access to the law library, whether his work schedule inhibits his ability to gain access, or whether something else is standing in his way. It is unclear why plaintiff would submit a "request for interview" to obtain access to the law library. Because plaintiff has provided insufficient information, his request is denied without prejudice. Plaintiff is cautioned that he should seek the assistance of prison officials to ensure he has followed proper procedure in his efforts to obtain law library access before renewing any request.*fn1

Moreover, at the time plaintiff filed his motion, there was no pending motion requiring his immediate attention. However, on January 4, 2011, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The January 4, 2011, filing of defendants' motion for summary judgment should provide plaintiff with the deadline he needs to obtain access to the prison law library. Plaintiff is reminded that pursuant to Local Rule 230(l), he is required to file an opposition within twenty-one days from the date the motion was filed. In addition, pursuant to the court's August 4, 2009 order, plaintiff must meet certain requirements to oppose a motion for summary judgment.*fn2 (Dkt. No. 11 at 4.) While this court understands the necessity of regulating prisoners' access to the law library, prisoners "must be ensured meaningful access to the courts." Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted). This court cannot rule on defendants' motion for summary judgment unless and until plaintiff has sufficient access to the law library to prepare an opposition. Accordingly, plaintiff will be provided an extension of time in which to file his opposition.

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiff's December 9, 2010 motion (dkt. no. 56) is denied without prejudice.

2. Plaintiff is granted thirty days from the date of this order to file an opposition to the January 4, 2011 motion for summary judgment.

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