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Smith v. Chappell

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 10, 2014

JERRY SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN R. CHAPPELL, et. al., Defendants.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE

EDWARD J. DAVILA, District Judge.

Plaintiff, a state prisoner at San Quentin State Prison, filed the instant civil rights action in pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted in a separate written order.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

B. Plaintiff's Claims Plaintiff claims that in November 2013, he was denied access to the courts because he was denied "10×13 legal indigent envelopes" to mail his legal documents to the courts. (Compl. at 3.) Plaintiff claims he filed an appeal which was "granted" in full, and signed by Defendant Kevin R. Chappell. (Id.) However, he was denied the legal envelopes by the mail room supervisor, Alex Lile. Defendant J. Benavidez reviewed the appeal and denied it at the Director's Level of Review on June 6, 2014. (Id.)

Prisoners have a constitutional right of access to the courts. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 350 (1996); Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821 (1977). To establish a claim for any violation of the right of access to the courts, the prisoner must prove that there was an inadequacy in the prison's legal access program that caused him an actual injury. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 350-55. To prove an actual injury, the prisoner must show that the inadequacy in the prison's program hindered his efforts to pursue a non-frivolous claim concerning his conviction or conditions of confinement. See id. at 354-55.

Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to state a claim of a denial of access to courts because he has failed to allege an actual injury. The complaint is DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND for Plaintiff to attempt to show that: (1) the prisoner's legal access program, i.e., the prison's procedure for providing indigent legal supplies, is inadequate; and (2) the program hindered his efforts to pursue a non-frivolous claim concerning his conviction or conditions of confinement. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 354-55. With respect to the latter, Plaintiff should include the case number, the court where the matter is being adjudicated, and the description of the claim.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the Court orders as follows:

1. The complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend. Within twenty-eight (28) days of the date this order is filed, Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint using the court's form complaint. The amended complaint must include the caption and civil case number used in this order and the words "AMENDED COMPLAINT" on the first page and write in the case number for this action, Case No. C 14-03752 EJD (PR). Plaintiff must answer all the questions on the form in order for the action to proceed.

Failure to respond in accordance with this order by filing an amended complaint will result in the dismissal of this action without prejudice and without further notice to Plaintiff.

The Clerk shall include two copies of the court's complaint with a copy of this order to Plaintiff.


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