United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
is incarcerated at the South Lake Tahoe Jail
(“Jail”). He is proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis with an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff alleges defendants interfered with his legal mail.
In orders filed January 23 and March 7, 2018, the court found
service of the complaint appropriate on defendants Bedford
and Jones. (ECF Nos. 13, 16.) So that the U.S. Marshal may
serve these defendants, the court ordered plaintiff to submit
documents to the court, including three copies of his
March 12, 2018, plaintiff filed a motion for a preliminary
injunction. (ECF No. 17.) Plaintiff complained that the jail
does not have an “adequate law library” or a
means for plaintiff to make photocopies of legal documents.
In response, the court noted that plaintiff's only
obligation at this point is to provide the court with the
documents necessary to serve defendants Bedford and Jones.
That obligation does not require law library access. Further,
the court notes that plaintiff's recent filings include
extensive case citations and legal argument, indicating that
he does, in fact, have the ability to conduct legal research.
The court will recommend plaintiff's motion for an
injunction requiring defendants to provide a better law
library be denied.
plaintiff does require access to a photocopier. The court
ordered plaintiff to supplement his motion by explaining who
is denying him access to photocopying services. (ECF No. 20.)
March 15, 2018, plaintiff submitted all of the documents
necessary for service of his complaint except for two copies
of the complaint. As a one-time courtesy to plaintiff, and
because, as described below, the Jail does not appear to have
a reasonable method for plaintiff to make copies, the court
will provide sufficient copies of the complaint to permit its
service on defendants Bedford and Jones. In a separate order,
the court will instruct the U.S. Marshal to serve the
March 26 and 28, 2018, plaintiff filed supplements to his
motion. With respect to photocopying services,
plaintiff's filings show that the Jail will allow
plaintiff to make photocopies only if he “appoint[s] a
‘legal runner' who can assist [him] in the
completion and filing of legal documents, and make copies for
you.” (See Inmate Grievance Response dated
Mar. 2, 2018, attached to plaintiff's March 26 supplement
as Ex. H (ECF No. 21 at 15).) Plaintiff identifies the
following Jail personnel as preventing him from making
photocopies: Captain Noren, Lieutenant Green, and Sergeant
have a constitutionally-protected right of meaningful access
to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821
(1977). This right encompasses the use of a copier to prepare
legal filings. See Allen v. Sakai, 48 F.3d 1082,
1089 (9th Cir. 1994) (“[I]t does not require
sophisticated ‘legal scholarship' to know that a
plaintiff's access to the courts could be hindered
seriously by an inability to make multiple, accurate copies
of legal documents.”); Gluth v. Kangas, 951
F.2d 1504, 1510 (9th Cir. 1991) (“Litigation
necessarily requires some means of accurate duplication
because the court and the parties need to refer to the same
documents. Photocopying is a reasonable means of providing
the necessary copies.”). While these standards do not
require the Jail to provide unlimited free copies, they do
require that plaintiff be given reasonable access to
photocopying. See Canell v. Bradshaw, 840 F.Supp.
1382, 1392 (D. Or. Nov. 23, 1993) (“[P]hotocopying can
be an indispensable service when the plaintiff is obliged to
provide copies of exhibits and other original documents to
the court and opposing counsel.”); see also Johnson
v. Parke, 642 F.2d 377, 380 (10th Cir. 1981).
present case, plaintiff is an indigent Jail inmate
representing himself. The court ordered him to provide three
copies of his complaint to proceed with this case. Indigent
inmates must be provided certain materials in order to have
adequate access to the courts. King v. Atiyeh, 814
F.2d 565, 568 (9th Cir. 1987), overruled on other grounds
in Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896 (9th Cir.
2012). For example, they must be provided with postage stamps
at state expense to mail legal documents, subject to
reasonable regulations by the state. Id. Case law
demonstrates that plaintiff must be provided a reasonable way
to make photocopies in order to proceed with this action.
court will reserve ruling on plaintiff's motion for an
injunction regarding access to photocopying. The court will
order the Clerk to serve a copy of this order on Captain
Noren, Lieutenant Green, and Sergeant George at the South
Lake Tahoe Jail. If plaintiff remains unable to have
reasonable access to photocopying, the court may order these
Sheriff's Department employees or defendants to respond
to plaintiff's motion.
the Clerk of the Court IS HEREBY ORDERED to do the following:
two copies of plaintiff's June 21, 2017 complaint (ECF
No. 1) to permit the U.S. Marshal to effect service of the
complaint as described in the accompanying order;
Serve a copy of this order on Captain Noren, Lieutenant
Green, and Sergeant George, El Dorado County Sheriff's
Office, South Lake Tahoe Jail, 1051 Al Tahoe Blvd., South
Lake Tahoe, CA 96150; and
Randomly assign a district judge to this case.
IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that plaintiff's motion for an
injunction regarding law ...