argue that, as a matter of law, the fact that plaintiff's mail may have been opened outside his presence does not constitute an actionable claim absent a showing of harm.
III. Standard for Summary Judgment Motions
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for summary judgment where the evidence shows that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and [that] the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). "Summary Judgment is properly regarded . . . as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed to 'secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 1). In determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, a court must resolve all ambiguities, and draw all inferences, against the moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176, 82 S. Ct. 993 (1962) (per curiam); Donahue v. Windsor Locks Bd. of Fire Comm'rs., 834 F.2d 54, 57 (2d Cir. 1987). An issue of credibility is insufficient to preclude the granting of a motion for summary judgment. Neither side can rely on conclusory allegations or statements in affidavits. The disputed issues of fact must be supported by evidence that would allow a "rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). Factual disputes that are irrelevant to the disposition of the suit under governing law will also not preclude entry of summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
A) Application to the Instant Case
Plaintiff's allegations are not actionable, as they do not constitute deprivations of plaintiff's constitutional right of access to the courts. The controlling case on access to the courts is Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 52 L. Ed. 2d 72, 97 S. Ct. 1491 (1977). The Bounds Court held that prison inmates have a constitutional right of access to the courts that requires prison officials to assist inmates "by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828. Plaintiff, as a matter of law, does not have the constitutional right to use of a typewriter as part of this right of access to the courts. Wolfish v. Levi, 573 F.2d 118, 129 (2d Cir. 1978), rev'd on other grounds, 441 U.S. 520 (1979); Sands v. Lewis, 886 F.2d 1166, 1169 (9th Cir. 1989); Howard v. Leonardo, 845 F. Supp. 943, 946 (N.D.N.Y. 1994). Thus, as a matter of law, plaintiff's claim must fail. Defendants' motion for summary judgment on this issue is therefore granted, while plaintiff's cross-motion is denied.
Plaintiff's complaint further alleges that his "legal" mail was opened outside his presence, apparently by jail authorities. Plaintiff does not indicate how, if at all, he was harmed by this alleged action of defendants. Existing precedent on an inmate's claim that his "legal" mail has been improperly handled by prison officials requires a showing of harm before relief may be granted. Morgan v. Montanye, 516 F.2d 1367 (2d Cir. 1975); Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178 (2d Cir. 1971). Further, in accordance with the summary judgment standard, it is not enough for the non-moving party to rest on conclusory statements to survive a summary judgment motion. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). Here, plaintiff has not made the requisite showing of harm to entitle him to judgment on this claim. Therefore, defendants are entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's claim of improper handling of mail, while plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied.
With regard to the claim that defendants interfered with plaintiff's right of access to the courts by denying him admission to the jail law library, a showing of harm is also required. Griffin v. Coughlin, 743 F. Supp. 1006, 1022 (N.D.N.Y. 1990). Plaintiff disputes the findings of the grievance committee that he was provided with all the legal materials he requested. However, in so doing, plaintiff simply states in a conclusory manner that he had encountered difficulty in getting updated case cites. Plaintiff's broad, conclusory statement, without more, is certainly not enough to entitle him to judgment as a matter of law. Matsushita Elec. Indus., 475 U.S. at 587 (1986) (stating the disputed issues of fact must be supported by evidence "that would allow a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party"). Further, the fact that plaintiff has not made the requisite showing of harm means this claim must also fail as a matter of law. For example, plaintiff fails to state how defendants' alleged hindrance of his access to the law library affected the outcome of the state proceeding in which he was convicted. Defendants' motion for summary judgment on this issue is therefore also granted and the plaintiff's motion denied.
There being no triable issues of material fact as to plaintiff's claims and defendants being entitled to judgment as a matter of law, it is hereby
ORDERED that Defendants be granted summary judgment as to plaintiff's claims that he was denied the use of a typewriter, that he was denied use of the law library, and that his "legal" mail was opened outside his presence; accordingly, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on those points is denied;
ORDERED that Plaintiff's Rule 15 motion to amend his complaint is granted; and it is further
ORDERED that Defendants file their responsive pleading to the amended complaint insofar as it relates to plaintiff's claim of inadequacy concerning the Schenectady County Jail law library within 30 days of the entry of this Order.
January 9, 1995
New York, New York
Harold Baer, Jr.