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Al-Bukhari v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 16, 2017

JA QURE AL-BUKHARI, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS

          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge

         Ja Qure Al-Bukhari, proceeds pro se in this civil rights action. On October 27, 2016, I issued an order staying this action to permit the parties in this and other cases filed by Al-Bukhari that have also been stayed to attempt to settle all of the stayed actions. Al-Bukhari has filed a motion to lift the stay, a motion for a copy of the complaint, a motion for an initial review order, and a motion seeking an order certifying this case as a class action. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to lift the stay is granted, the motion for copy is granted, and the remaining two motions are denied.

         I. Motion for Copy [ECF No. 14]

         Al-Bukhari states that his copy of the complaint became lost or damaged in early January 2017. The fact that the court previously granted Al-Bukhari permission to proceed in forma pauperis does not automatically entitle him to free copies of documents or rulings. See In re Richard, 914 F.2d 1526, 1527 (6th Cir. 1990) (28 U.S.C. § 1915 “does not give the [prisoner] litigant a right to have documents copied and returned to him at government expense”); Collins v. Goord, 438 F.Supp.2d 399, 416 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (“inmate[s] ha[ve] no constitutional right to free [photo]copies”). Still, receipt of the complaint should facilitate the efficient resolution of this case. Accordingly, the Clerk shall mail Al-Bukhari a copy of his complaint.

         II. Motion for Class Action Status and Certification [ECF No. 15]

         Al-Bukhari claims that this action involves a claim regarding the use of restraints on mentally-ill inmates. He contends that he has met the standard for class action status.

         Courts have held consistently that inmates do not have standing to sue on behalf of fellow prisoners or other persons. See Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106, 114 (1976) (“Ordinarily, one may not claim standing in this Court to vindicate the constitutional rights of some third party.” (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)); McCall v. Pataki, 232 F.3d 321, 322 (2d Cir. 2000) (“A pro se litigant . . . is not empowered to proceed on behalf of anyone other than himself.” (citations omitted)); Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe of Indians v. Weicker, 39 F.3d 51, 58 (2d Cir. 1994) (standing requires that plaintiff assert “its own legal rights, and not those of third parties”); Swift v. Tweddell, 582 F.Supp.2d 437, 449 (W.D.N.Y. 2008) (holding inmate “lack[s] standing . . . to assert claims on other inmates' behalf” (citation omitted)). Furthermore, although a litigant in federal court has a right to act as his own counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1654, a non-attorney has no authority to appear as an attorney for others. See United States ex rel. Mergent Servs. v. Flaherty, 540 F.3d 89, 92 (2d Cir. 2008) (“[A]n individual who is not licensed as an attorney may not appear on another person's behalf in the other's cause.” (internal quotation omitted)).

         Al-Bukhari is not represented by counsel in this action. In addition, the attorney who had been appointed as pro bono counsel in the lead case of three consolidated actions filed by Al-Bukhari, Al-Bukhari v. Dep't of Corrections, No. 3:16-cv-53 (SRU), has withdrawn as counsel for Al-Bukhari. As a pro se litigant, Al-Bukhari cannot assert claims on behalf of anyone other than himself.

         Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure identifies four prerequisites that must be met before a class action can be certified. One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all members only if:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

Rule 23(a), Fed.R.Civ.P. The party seeking to certify a class bears the burden of demonstrating that the requirements of Rule 23 have been met. See Eisen v. Carlisle ...


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