Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hall v. Stamm

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 8, 2017

JEFFREY HALL, Plaintiff,
v.
STAMM, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Hall is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction. He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that defendants deprived him of his right to vote when he was a pretrial detainee in 2014. Based on my initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I conclude that the complaint should be served on two of the five defendants.

         Background

         Plaintiff's original complaint (Doc. #1) was filed on May 12, 2017. He filed an amended complaint on May 25, 2017 (Doc. #8). Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted by the Court on June 7, 2017.

         The following allegations from plaintiff's amended complaint are accepted as true for purposes of the Court's initial review. Plaintiff was held as a pretrial detainee at Northern Correctional Institution from August through November 2014. On August 15, 2014, plaintiff submitted an Inmate Request Form to defendant Counselor Stamm seeking assistance in voting. Stamm laughed at plaintiff and refused to help him. Doc. #8 at 4 (¶¶ 1-2).

         On September 5, 2014, plaintiff received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union stating that he was eligible to vote under Connecticut General Statutes § 9-14a.[1] On September 8, 2014, plaintiff wrote to Stamm and to defendant Counselor Supervisor Bachen seeking assistance in voting. They laughed at him. The following day, plaintiff filed a grievance against Bachen. Id. (¶¶ 3-5).

         While the grievance against Bachen was pending, plaintiff received an acceptance of application to vote from David McCaffrey, the Registrar of Voters in Somers, Connecticut. He also communicated with Sharon Krawiecki, the Registrar of Voters in Bristol, Connecticut. On October 18, 2014, Correctional Officer Moses, who is not a defendant in this case, told plaintiff it was too late to vote and coerced plaintiff into withdrawing his grievance against Bachen. Id. (¶¶ 6-8).

         On October 24, 2014, defendant Jane Doe placed an application for an absentee ballot under plaintiff's door. Plaintiff completed the application and sent it to Ann Marie Logan, the Somers Town Clerk. On November 4, 2014, plaintiff signed for his absentee ballot. Defendant Ferguson “could not stop laughing.” Plaintiff completed the absentee ballot and gave it to defendant Correctional Officer John Doe to mail. Id. (¶¶ 9-11).

         On November 11, 2014, plaintiff received a letter from Town Clerk Logan stating that his ballot had been received too late to be accepted.[2] On January 12, 2015, plaintiff wrote to the Connecticut State Election Enforcement Commission describing what had happened. Almost two years later, on November 7, 2016, plaintiff received a packet from Commission Chairman Anthony J. Castagno stating that correctional staff were at fault. Id. (¶¶ 12-14).

         Discussion

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. The Court must accept as true all factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a complaint may not survive unless its factual recitations state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., 770 F.3d 170, 177 (2d Cir. 2014) (same). Nevertheless, it is well-established that “pro se complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

         Equal Protection Claim

         Plaintiff asserts that although he was legally eligible to vote in the November 2014 election, he was “discouraged, ridiculed, and outright blocked from voting by defendants.” Doc. #8 at 4 (¶ 15). Plaintiff does not identify the source of his claim, but the Court construes plaintiff's complaint as alleging a violation of his fundamental right to vote, under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         The Supreme Court has long recognized the right to vote as a “fundamental political right, because [it is] preservative of all rights.” Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 370 (1886). Indeed, “the Constitution of the United States protects the right of all qualified citizens to vote, in state as well as in federal elections.” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 554 (1964). Although Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment permits states to deny this right to people who have been convicted of felonies, see Richardson v. Ramirez, 418 U.S. 24, 54 (1974), pretrial detainees fall in a different category because they have not yet been convicted. The Supreme Court has specifically recognized that the Equal Protection Clause guarantees a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.