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Carl F. Harrison v. Sergeant Linde

February 22, 2013

CARL F. HARRISON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SERGEANT LINDE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Carolyn K. Delaney United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff, a state prisoner, proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A motion to sever filed by two of the four named defendants is pending, and two motions filed by plaintiff are before the court.

I. Motion for Court Order Regarding Evidence

Plaintiff has filed a motion styled as "Motion for Court Order that Defendants and their Associates and Company Give up Documents and Evidence." (Dkt. No. 28.) Plaintiff requests the court to order the defendants and their attorneys to provide him with a multitude of documents which he contends would support his claims in this action. Plaintiff's motion will be denied. Plaintiff may seek discovery at the appropriate time in accordance with the discovery and scheduling order which will issue following resolution of the pending motion to sever.

II. Plaintiff's Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Plaintiff has filed a motion asking, in part, for an extension of time to file (1) a reply to defendants answer and (2) an opposition to the pending motion to sever. Neither the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor this court's Local Rules provide for a reply to an answer absent a court order. Plaintiff states that he has 21 days to file a reply to defendants' answer under Rule 12(a)(1)(C), however plaintiff misinterprets the rule. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a)(1)(c) only authorizes a reply to an answer when the court orders a reply. Accordingly, plaintiff's motion for extension of time to file a reply to defendants' answer will be denied. However, his motion for extension of time to file an opposition to the motion to sever will be granted.

Plaintiff also requests the court to order that he be given access to the law library, that he be provided with legal supplies, and that his legal property be returned to him. Plaintiff contends that "although he is given access to legal work tools, the access is not capable of allowing plaintiff to meaningful access." (Dkt. No. 29 at 2.) In support of his request, plaintiff states that he has only been allowed law library access three times in the past four months, that he has had to borrow an ink pen from other inmates on occasion, and that he has had limited access to the copy machines. (Id.)

An inmate has a constitutionally protected right of meaningful access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 820-821 (1977). This right encompasses more than access to an adequate law library: it includes access to "paper and pen to draft legal documents with notarial services to authenticate them, and with stamps to mail them." Id. at 824-25. To prevail, however, it is not enough for an inmate to show some sort of denial; he must also show "actual injury" from the denial or delay of services. The Supreme Court has described the actual injury requirement as follows:

[T]he inmate therefore must go one step further and demonstrate that the alleged shortcomings in the library or legal assistance program hindered his efforts to pursue a legal claim. He might show, for example, that a complaint he prepared was dismissed for failure to satisfy some technical requirement which, because of deficiencies in the prison's legal assistance facilities, he could not have known. Or that he suffered arguably actionable harm that he wished to bring before the courts, but was so stymied by inadequacies of the law library that he was unable even to file a complaint.

Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996).

This is plaintiff's second request for the court to issue an order that legal materials be provided to him and that legal property be returned to him. In the court's order of October 18, 2012, plaintiff's motion was denied on the following basis:

[P]laintiff's motion is not specific as to the nature of his legal material that prison officials are allegedly withholding, nor to any specific injury that he has suffered as a result. In addition, to any extent prison officials have denied him legal materials or services, it is clear that denial has not blocked him from filing the instant motions or other requests for relief in this case. Under these circumstances, the court finds that plaintiff has not shown actual injury from the denial of materials and services at this time.

It is further noted that plaintiff does not name the prison officials who are allegedly withholding legal materials or services from him. As a general rule, this court is unable to issue an injunctive order against individuals or entities who are not parties to the suit pending before it. See Zenigh Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 395 U.S. 100, 110 (1969). Likewise, if the injury caused by the alleged deprivation hinders plaintiff from pursuing a claim other than the ones alleged in this case, the deprivation and injury are not redressable in this case. See, e.g., Benyamini v. Manjuano, 2011 WL 4963108 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 18, 2011) ("This Court lacks jurisdiction to issue an order requiring prison officials to ...


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