United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kirk Kapeace Gillums, a pretrial detainee currently detained
at Bridgeport Correctional Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut,
has brought this civil rights action pro se against
the warden of the Bridgeport Correctional Center, Hannah, and
the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Corrections
("DOC"), Scott Semple, requesting injunctive
Judge Garfinkel granted Gillums' motion to proceed in
forma pauperis on June 22, 2018. See Doc. 8.
The Court now reviews Gillums' Complaint to determine
whether his claims are "frivolous" or may proceed
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the following reasons, the
Court dismisses Gillums' Complaint.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a
prisoner's civil complaint and dismiss any portion that
"(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2). Although highly detailed
allegations are not required, the complaint "must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678. The complaint must provide "more than an unadorned,
Id. "A pleading that offers 'labels and
conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'"
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will
[ultimately] . . . be a context-specific task that requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense." Id. at 663-64. When
"well-pleaded factual allegations" are present,
"a court should assume their veracity and then determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief." Id. at 679. Factual disputes do not
factor into a plausibility analysis under Iqbal and
all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be
true, this tenet is 'inapplicable to legal
conclusions.'" LaMagna v. Brown, 474
Fed.Appx. 788, 789 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678). See also Amaker v. New York State Dept.
of Corr. Servs., 435 Fed.Appx. 52, 54 (2d Cir. 2011)
(same). Accordingly, the Court is not "bound to accept
conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as
factual conclusions." Faber v. Metro. Life Ins.
Co., 648 F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (citation and
quotation marks omitted). Consequently, "[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555).
respect to pro se litigants, it is well-established
that "[p]ro se submissions are
reviewed with special solicitude, and 'must be construed
liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments
that they suggest.'" Matheson v. Deutsche Bank
Nat'l Tr. Co., 706 Fed.Appx. 24, 26 (2d Cir. 2017)
(quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470
F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam)). See also
Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013)
(same); Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d
Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for
pro se litigants); Boykin v. KeyCorp., 521
F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) ("A document filed pro
se is to be liberally construed and a pro se
complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007))); Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed
Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008) (where the
plaintiff proceeds pro se, a court is "obliged
to construe his pleadings liberally" (quoting
McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir.
2004))); Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir.
2007) (in reviewing a pro se complaint, the court
"must liberally construe [the] pleadings, and must
interpret [the] complaint to raise the strongest arguments it
despite being subject to liberal interpretation, a pro
se plaintiff's complaint still must "state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Mancuso v. Hynes, 379 Fed.Appx. 60, 61 (2d Cir.
2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
following factual allegations are derived from Gillums'
is a pretrial detainee at the Bridgeport Correctional Center
("BCC"). Complaint, Doc. 1 ¶ 2. The
Connecticut DOC does not operate a legal program for pretrial
detainees at BCC. Id. ¶ 5. DOC has a policy to
refer prisoners to the Inmate's Legal Assistance Program
("ILAP"); however, ILAP only assists pretrial
detainees at BCC with 'constructive custody' or civil
rights issues. Id. ¶ 4. ILAP does not offer
meaningful assistance with criminal cases. Id.
Further, while the DOC does not provide pretrial detainees at
BCC with legal materials, it does operate a legal program and
provides access to law books and research materials for
sentenced prisoners at other DOC prison facilities.
Id. ¶ 5.
February 21, 2018, to date, Gillums has requested access to
law books, a law library, or trained legal personnel.
Id. ¶ 1. On March 14, 2018, Gillums filed a
formal grievance with the BCC grievance office. Id.
¶ 3. Despite such requests and the lodging of a
grievance, Gillums has not been provided access to legal
research materials. Id. ¶ 2. Since he is unable
to learn the law and participate in his own defense, Gillums
"is compelled to negotiate a plea agreement" in his
criminal cases pending in Connecticut state court with
"no cognizance of the rules or procedures of law or
current case developments which may benefit [him] or mitigate
[his] circumstances in consequences of trial
proceedings." Id. ¶ 6.
seeks injunctive relief against Defendants Semple and Hannah
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Gillums does not specify
any legal claims against Defendants, however, his prayer for
relief requests that the Court "issue a Temporary
Restraining Order and injoin the Connecticut Department of
Corrections to allow me and all other similarly situated
pretrial detainees in the State of Connecticut immediate
access to lawbooks, research materials and trained
correctional personnel to assist with legal research."
Doc. 1 at 6 (sic). Construing Gillums' Complaint
liberally, and interpreting it to raise the strongest claims
it presents, the Court finds that Gillums advances a
Fourteenth Amendment claim for denial of access to the
courts; a ...