United States District Court, D. Connecticut
PRECELL L. WHITAKER, Plaintiff,
COUNSELOR CAMPBELL, Defendant.
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
VANESSA L. BRYANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
August 30, 2019, Precell L. Whitaker
(“Plaintiff”), an inmate currently confined at
the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center
(“Corrigan”) in Uncasville, Connecticut, filed a
complaint pro se and in forma pauperis
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Department of
Correction Counselor Campbell (“Defendant”) in
his official capacity for money damages. Compl. (Dkt. No. 1)
at 2, 5. Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated his rights
under the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution for refusing to permit him to
contact the Inmate Legal Aid Program (“ILAP”).
Id. at 3, 5. For the following reasons, the
complaint is dismissed without prejudice subject to
Standard of Review
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this 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.
Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint
must include sufficient facts to afford Defendant fair notice
of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and
to demonstrate a 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). Plaintiff must plead “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atlantic, 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)).
Corrigan Inmate Handbook states that inmate legal calls will
be scheduled within the next business day after they are
requested. Compl. at 12. Sometime in July 2019, Plaintiff
requested a legal call seventy-two hours before filing a
grievance at Corrigan. Id. Defendant was assigned to
Plaintiff's unit for three days during normal operation.
Id. When Plaintiff attempted to make a phone call to
ILAP during his recreation hours, Defendant told him that he
“had a scheduled correspondence” and that
Plaintiff must return during a scheduled time to make his
on multiple occasions attempted to schedule his legal call,
but Defendant did not “reschedule [his]
appointment” with ILAP. Compl. at 12. On July 15, 2019,
Defendant again disrupted Plaintiff's legal call by
informing him that the phones at ILAP were not working.
Id. That same day, Plaintiff requested that
Defendant print out four pro se civil rights
complaint forms and provide him access to the typewriter.
Id. Defendant refused, stating, “I don't
fucking want to give it to you. We've been on lock down
[for] the first half of the day.” Id. at 13.
When Plaintiff asked for a grievance form and said that the
lock down should not impact normal operations, Defendant told
him to “lock the fuck up.” Id.
submitted a grievance to Administrative Remedies Coordinator
King. Compl. at 13. The following day, July 16, 2019,
Defendant issued Plaintiff the civil rights complaint forms,
but he told Plaintiff that he did not have to assist him.
Id. He told Plaintiff that he was “not doing
shit for [him].” Id. Plaintiff replied that he
cannot make legal calls on the jail phone and that he needed
Defendant's help. Id.
next morning, Defendant placed Plaintiff in segregation.
Compl. at 13. There, Plaintiff received legal mail, which had
been opened and delivered twenty-four hours late.
Id. Plaintiff believes that Defendant and/or other
Corrigan officials are “disrupting the legal
claims that Defendant's interference in his ability to
contact ILAP in July 2019 violated his Sixth Amendment right
to counsel and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.
See Compl. at 5. He also appears to claim that
Defendant verbally harassed him, in violation of his Eighth
Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Id. As shown below, Plaintiff has failed to state a
plausible claim under any of these constitutional provisions.
and foremost, Plaintiff may not sue Defendant in his official
capacity for money damages. Such claims are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S.
159 (1985). Thus, for purposes of this ruling only, the Court
will construe Plaintiff's constitutional claims as stated
against Defendant in his individual capacity.
even if the Court construes the allegations as stating a
claim that Defendant intentionally prevented Plaintiff from
making a legal call, they do not sufficiently state a Sixth
Amendment claim. The Sixth Amendment guarantees defendants
the right to counsel in criminal proceedings. See Loving
v. Selsky, No. 07-CV-6393L (DGL), 2009 WL 87452, at *2
(W.D.N.Y. Jan. 12, 2009). The fact that Defendant interfered
with Plaintiff's ability to call ILAP does not show a
Sixth Amendment violation.
the Fourteenth Amendment claim, the facts alleged do not show
that Defendant violated Plaintiff's right to due process.
The standard analysis for a claim of a violation of
procedural due process “proceeds in two steps: We first
ask whether there exists a liberty or property interest of
which a person has been deprived, and if so we ask whether
the procedures followed by ...