United States District Court, D. Connecticut
CHADWICK ST. LOUIS, Plaintiff,
DR. JOHNNY WU, ET AL., Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION [ECF 38]
A. Dooley, U.S.D.J.
court construes the Plaintiff's Motion to Compel/Petition
for Mandamus as a motion to reconsider the Court's denial
of his previous request that the Court appoint counsel to
represent him or to alternatively order the Department of
Corrections to provide him with legal assistance. The motion
for reconsideration is GRANTED, but the relief requested is
relies upon Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977).
Preliminarily, the court observes that the motion is more
akin to a request for a restraining order/mandatory
injunction against the Defendants. The Plaintiff has not
satisfied the extraordinary requirements of such relief.
See, Cacchillo v. Insmed, Inc., 638 F.3d 401, 406
(2d Cir. 2011) (citing Citigroup Global Mkts., Inc. v.
VCG Special Opportunities Master Fund Ltd., 598 F.3d 30,
35 n.4 (2d Cir. 2010))(A mandatory preliminary injunction
“should issue only upon a clear showing that the moving
party is entitled to the relief requested, or where extreme
or very serious damage will result from the denial of
preliminary relief.”); Tom Doherty Assocs., Inc. v.
Saban Entertainment Inc., 60 F.3d 27, 33-34 (2d Cir.
1995) (plaintiff seeking mandatory injunction must make
“clear” or “substantial” showing of
likelihood of success on the merits of his claim). The motion
could be denied on this basis alone. However, the Court
addresses the legal question raised because the Plaintiff
misapprehends the scope and holding of Bounds.
was abrogated by Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343
(1996). The Lewis Court held that Bounds
did not “create an abstract, free-standing right”
to either a law library or adequate assistance from a person
trained in the law. Rather to assert claims under
Bounds, a Plaintiff must establish an actual injury.
Id. at 351. The court held:
Insofar as the right vindicated by Bounds is
concerned, “meaningful access to the courts is the
touchstone, ” id., at 823, 97 S.Ct., at 1495
(internal quotation marks omitted), and the inmate therefore
must go one step further and demonstrate that the alleged
shortcomings in the library or legal assistance program
hindered his efforts to pursue a legal claim. He might show,
for example, that a complaint he prepared was dismissed for
failure to satisfy some technical requirement which, because
of deficiencies in the prison's legal assistance
facilities, he could not have known. Or that he had suffered
arguably actionable harm that he wished to bring before the
courts, but was so stymied by inadequacies of the law library
that he was unable even to file a complaint.
Although Bounds itself made no mention of an
actual-injury requirement, it can hardly be thought to have
eliminated that constitutional prerequisite. And actual
injury is apparent on the face of almost all the opinions in
the 35-year line of access-to-courts cases on which
Bounds relied, see id., at 821-825, 97
S.Ct., at 1494-1497. Moreover, the assumption of an
actual-injury requirement seems to us implicit in the
opinion's statement that “we encourage local
experimentation” in various methods of assuring access
to the courts. Id., at 832, 97 S.Ct., at 1500. One
such experiment, for example, might replace libraries with
some minimal access to legal advice and a system of
court-provided forms such as those that contained the
original complaints in two of the more significant
inmate-initiated cases in recent years, Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 115 S.Ct. 2293, 132 L.Ed.2d 418
(1995), and Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 112
S.Ct. 995, 117 L.Ed.2d 156 (1992)-forms that asked the
inmates to provide only the facts and not to attempt any
legal analysis. We hardly think that what we meant by
“experimenting” with such an alternative was
simply announcing it, whereupon suit would immediately lie to
declare it theoretically inadequate and bring the experiment
to a close. We think we envisioned, instead, that the new
program would remain in place at least until some
inmate could demonstrate that a nonfrivolous legal claim had
been frustrated or was being impeded.
added.) Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351-53 (1996).
St. Louis has successfully filed his complaint and is
prosecuting his claim. He has access to the prisoner
electronic filing program, which he has utilized very
effectively to file multiple pleadings. He would also have
access to the ILAP but for his decision to bring a claim
against them, thereby creating a conflict of interest for
those lawyers. As would be required for the relief sought,
the Plaintiff has not demonstrated that his meaningful access
to the courts is being denied. See, Page v. Lantz,
No. 3:05CV1271 (MRK), 2007 WL 1834519, at *3-5 (D. Conn. June
25, 2007) (inmate's allegation that Department of
Correction officials denied him access to courts when they
failed to provide him with an alternative legal provider
following Inmate Legal Assistance Program's determination
that it could not provide further legal assistance to him
because of a conflict that he created by seeking to join a
lawsuit against the Program did not state a claim of a denial
of access to courts because inmate had not demonstrated that
he sustained an actual injury as a result of the
relief sought in the motion for reconsideration is therefore
DENIED. As previously ordered however, the Plaintiff may
renew his request for the appointment of counsel should the