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Kaminski v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 2, 2019

JOHN S. KAMINSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge

         John S. Kaminski (“Kaminski”), currently confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging the provision of legal assistance to Connecticut inmates. He names three defendants: former Commissioner Semple; former Attorney General George Jepsen; and Attorney Walter Bansley IV, the Inmate Legal Assistance Contractor. Kaminski seeks declaratory relief only. ECF No. 1 at 30. Kaminski asserts a claim for denial of due process and violation of his right of access to the courts through the denial of access to legal resources. Kaminski's complaint was received on January 31, 2019, and his motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on February 6, 2019.

         Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that “[p]ro 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).

         I. Allegations

         Kaminski does not include in his complaint a concise statement of the facts underlying his claims. A state criminal matter, #04-0214486, was nolled shortly after Kaminski was sentenced in another matter in 2004. The nolle was entered through an agreement between Kaminski's attorney, Martin Rizzi, and the prosecutor, Paul Rotiroti. ECF No. 1 at 9, 33. Kaminski believes that the nolled case supports his challenge to his conviction.

         The nolled case was overlooked by appointed appellate counsel, Arthur Ledford; first appointed habeas counsel, John Drapp; and second appointed habeas counsel, Jennifer Smith. Id. at 33. Kaminski filed a motion for removal of second habeas counsel. Id. at 8. The court permitted counsel to file an Anders brief and withdraw her representation. Id. Proceeding pro se, Kaminski discovered the nolled case. Id. at 15.

         While proceeding pro se, Kaminski filed a petition for writ of mandamus in state court to obtain access to legal research materials. The petition was denied. Id. at 17, 19-21.

         II. Analysis

         A. Declaratory Relief

         Kaminski states that he sues defendants Semple and Jepsen on his claims for denial of access to the courts and denial of due process only for declaratory relief. ECF No. 1 at 1, 30.

         Declaratory relief operates prospectively. It is intended to enable parties to adjudicate claims before either party suffers significant damages. Orr v. Waterbury Police Dep't, 2018 WL 780218, at *7 (D. Conn. Feb. 8, 2018) (citations omitted). In Orr, the court dismissed the request for declaratory relief because the request related only to past actions; the plaintiff had not identified any legal issue that could be resolved by declaratory relief. Id.

         Kaminski states that he has named defendants Semple and Jepsen because they were serving as Commissioner of Correction and Attorney General during the relevant period. Id. at 26-27. This indicates that Kaminski is seeking declaratory relief relating to past actions. Thus, the request is inappropriate and the claims against defendants Semple and Jepsen are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).

         B. Defendant Bansley

         Kaminski names Attorney Walter Bansley IV, in his capacity as the Inmate Legal Assistance Contractor. In that capacity, Attorney Bansley provides legal assistance to inmates in civil cases just as the public ...


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