United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES
JOHNSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
John Jumper, a state prisoner proceeding without counsel,
filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 11) alleging Defendants
denied him access to legal materials during his incarceration
at the Cascade County Detention Center. The Amended Complaint
fails to state a federal claim for relief and therefore this
matter should be dismissed.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Jumper is a state prisoner. At the time he filed his
Complaint, Mr. Jumper was incarcerated at the Cascade County
Adult Detention Center in Great Falls, Montana. His Amended
Complaint indicates he is currently incarcerated at
Crossroads Correctional Center.
style of his original Complaint, Mr. Jumper listed the State
of Montana and the Cascade County Adult Detention Center as
Defendants and indicated in the body of the Complaint that he
was suing Cascade County Adult Detention Center Administrator
Dan O'Fallon. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 1.) In the Amended
Complaint, Mr. Jumper lists the following Defendants: Cascade
County Detention Facility, the State of Montana, and Dan
O'Fallon. (Amd. Complaint, Doc. 11 at 3.)
Jumper alleges he was denied law books for his cases the
entire time he was incarcerated in the Cascade County Adult
Detention Center. (Amd. Complaint, Doc. 11 at 5.) Mr. Jumper
also provides some facts which appear to pertain to his
underlying criminal cases. He indicates that if he had law
books he would have done better on his plea deal. (Doc. 11 at
SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915,
1915A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B) require the Court to dismiss a
complaint filed in forma pauperis and/or by a prisoner
against a governmental defendant if it is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. This matter should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim.
as set forth in the Court's prior Order, the State of
Montana is not a proper defendant in this action and should
be dismissed. Further, Mr. Jumper has not stated a claim for
denial of access to the courts. To show a violation of the
right to access to the courts an inmate must demonstrate
“actual injury, ” in that there was a
“specific instance” in which they were denied
access. Sands v. Lewis, 886 F .2d 1166, 1171 (9th
Cir. 1989); see also Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343,
349 (1996). “The injury requirement is not satisfied by
just any type of frustrated legal claim”; prisoners
have a right to access to the courts only in relation to
direct appeals from the convictions for which they were
incarcerated, habeas petitions, or civil rights actions
challenging the conditions of their confinement.
Casey, 518 U.S. at 354-55. To have standing
essential to assert a denial of access to the courts, an
inmate must show “actual injury, ” which means
the inmate must demonstrate that official acts or omissions
“hindered his efforts to pursue a [non-frivolous] legal
claim.” Lewis, 518 U.S. at 353 n 3.
Jumper made no showing of actual injury. Although he
discusses the underlying facts of his criminal cases, he does
not explain how the lack of legal materials hindered his
efforts to pursue a non-frivolous legal claim. He simply
makes the conclusory statement that if he had law books he
would have done better on his plea deal. Mr. Jumper confirms
he had an attorney for these criminal proceedings. (Amd.
Complaint, Doc. 11 at 8.) The right of access to the courts
“guarantees no particular methodology but rather the
conferral of a capability-the capability of bringing
contemplated challenges to sentences or conditions of
confinement before the courts.” Id. at 356.
Given that Mr. Jumper was represented by counsel he had the
capability of bringing challenges to his criminal charges.
Mr. Jumper's of denial of access to the courts
allegations fail to state a claim.
addition, Mr. Jumper's claims are barred by Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Heck, the
United States Supreme Court held that if a judgment in favor
of a plaintiff in a civil-rights action would necessarily
imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence, the
complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can
demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has been
invalidated. Id. at 486-87; see also Smith v.
City of Hemet, 394 F.3d 689, 695 (9th Cir.2005) (en
banc) (“Heck says that ‘if a criminal
conviction arising out of the same facts stands and is
fundamentally inconsistent with the unlawful behavior for
which section 1983 damages are sought, the 1983 action must
be dismissed.' ” (citation omitted)). Thus, the
“relevant question” in a § 1983 suit is
whether success would “‘necessarily imply' or
‘demonstrate' the invalidity of the earlier
conviction or sentence.” Smith, 394 F.3d at
695 (quoting Heck, 512 U.S. at 487). Mr. Jumper