United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil rights case filed by the Plaintiff, Davis L.
Doubleday, under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma
pauperis ("IFP"). He is incarcerated in the
Benton County Detention Center ("BCDC"). The Prison
Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") modified the IFP
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, to require the Court to
screen complaints for dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B).
The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if
it contains claims that: (a) are frivolous or malicious; (b)
fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or,
(c) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
to the allegations of the Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff has
been refused notary services for letters written to the
governors of Arkansas and Missouri as well as to the American
Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU"). Plaintiff alleges
he was told that notary services were provided only for
prepared court documents. When he submitted the certificate
of account portion of the IFP application to be completed in
preparation for filing this case, Plaintiff states he was
told that they would notarize the letters. However, he had
already mailed the letters.
alleges his requests for executive clemency and for relief
from legal burden, apparently the content of the letters, are
at greater risk of being denied due to Defendants'
unprofessionalism. However, Plaintiff makes no allegation
that he informed Defendants that the letters were in fact
requests for executive clemency.
Plaintiff alleges he was denied access to the law library. He
alleges he needed access to the law library to research the
laws regarding his "legal letters" and "many
other such things." Plaintiff argues he should not have
been required to already be in the "middle of a court
issue" to be able to research his rights. He asserts
that he wanted to enter the court prepared.
relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. He
also asks that the Defendants be ordered to notarize any and
all legal documents and letters to any legal or governmental
organization and to allow access to the law library.
the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen a case prior to
service of process being issued. A claim is frivolous when it
"lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact."
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A
claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The Court
bears in mind, however, that when "evaluating whether a
pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to
state a claim, we hold 'a pro se complaint,
however inartfully pleaded, . .. to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'"
Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
undeniably enjoy a constitutional right of access to the
courts and the legal system." Myers v. Hundley,
101 F.3d 542, 544 (8th Cir. 1996) (citing Lewis v.
Casey, 518 U.S. 343 (1996); Bounds v. Smith,
430 U.S. 817, 821 (1977)). In Myers, the Eighth
Circuit stated that:
[t]o protect that right, prisons must provide inmates with
some access to legal materials or to legal assistance so that
inmates can prepare and pursue complaints, and with some
ability to mail these complaints and related legal
correspondence once prepared. Inmates do not have a right,
however, either to law libraries or to unlimited stamp
allowances for legal mail. Instead, the duty to make such
arrangements is bounded by the inmates' right of
meaningful access to the courts. To state a claim that a law
library or legal assistance program violates this right,
inmates must assert that they suffered an actual injury to
pending or contemplated legal claims. Alleging theoretical
inadequacies is insufficient. Inmates must instead show, for
example, that a complaint that they prepared was dismissed
due to a technical requirement that a library's
inadequacies prevented them from knowing, or that a library
was so inadequate that it prevented them from filing a
complaint for actionable harm at all.
Myers, 101 F.3d at 544 (citations omitted).
Cody v. Weber, 256 F.3d 764 (8th Cir. 2001), the
Eighth Circuit noted that the Supreme Court in Lewis v.
Casey, 518 U.S. 343 (1996), and Bounds v.
Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977), "determined that the
right of access to the courts guarantees an inmate the
ability to file lawsuits that directly or collaterally attack
the inmate's sentence or that challenge the conditions of
the inmate's confinement, but it does not extend to the
right to 'discover grievances' or to 'litigate
effectively once in court.'" Cody, 256 F.3d
at 767-68 (quoting Lewis, 518 U.S. at 354-55).
case, Plaintiff's denial of access to the courts claim
fails because he has alleged no actual injury. Plaintiff was
able to submit his requests for clemency and file this civil
rights action while incarcerated at the BCDC and has missed
no deadlines imposed by the Court. He has not alleged that
his requests for clemency were denied because they were not
notarized or that he had a case dismissed because he failed
to file documents with the Court. See, e.g., Klingerv.
Dep't of Corr., 107 F.3d 609, 617 (8th Cir. 1997)
(to prevail on access-to-courts claim, inmate must show
actual injury or prejudice even if denial of access to
library is complete and systematic). Although "[p]ro se
defendants have a right of access to adequate law libraries
or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law,
" United States v. Knox,950 F.2d 516, 519 ...