United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER ON AMENDED COMPLAINT
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
12, 2018, the Court issued an Initial Review Order,
dismissing Gillums' complaint, Doc. 1, with leave to file
an amended complaint by a date certain. See Id. at
14. On July 23, 2018, Gillums filed an Amended Complaint.
Doc. 11. The Court now reviews Gillums' Amended 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' Amended Complaint,
in part, and permits Gillums' claim for denial of access
to the courts to proceed to service.
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'
original complaint and his Amended Complaint.
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
pretrial detainees at other DOC correctional institutions
such as Garner, Cheshire, and MacDougall-Walker, where
high-bail, mental health or security risk group pretrial
detainees are housed with level 2-5 sentenced inmates.
Amended Complaint, Doc. 11 ¶ 1.
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.
is a defendant in two pending criminal cases in Connecticut;
one in Norwalk, and one in Derby. Doc. 11 ¶ 2. Gillums
has had counsel appointed to him by the Division of Public
Defender Services to defend him against the charges brought
in those cases. Id. However, Gillums has not had
adequate access to his counsel. Id. In five months,
Gillums has met with the counsel assigned to his Norwalk case
once at the Norwalk Superior Court, for a total of seven
minutes; and with the counsel assigned to his Derby case once
at the Derby Superior Court, for a total of five minutes.
Id. Gillums has never received written
correspondence from counsel, nor has he communicated with
counsel by telephone. Id. When Gillums is produced
at Court, "each occurrence has resulted in an allocution
for adjournment." Id.
Gillums brief discussions with counsel, he was informed that
he "was not permitted to peruse or receive copies of his
criminal case file, Connecticut procedural statutory rules or
any other information" that pertains to Gillums'
pending criminal cases. Id. As a result, Gillums is
"essentially proceeding to trial by ambush."
Id. Counsel are non-communicative and have not
disclosed to Gillums the nature of the charges against him.
Id. at 6. Counsel have not inquired as to
Gillums' version of the events underlying his ...