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Muhammad v. Hodge

March 23, 2010

MALIK MUHAMMAD, 96-A-3015, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SCOTT HODGE AND ANGELA BARTLETT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have consented to the assignment of this case to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings in this case, including the entry of final judgment. Dkt. #11.

Currently before the Court are the following motions:

(1) Plaintiff's motion for relief pursuant to Rule 56(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. #31);

(2) Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #40); and

(3) Plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order directing that plaintiff "become legally barred from Southport Correctional Facility" (Dkt. #56).

Plaintiff commenced this pro se action on or about April 9, 2007 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. #1. Plaintiff alleges that while he was housed at the Southport Correctional Facility ("Southport"), during the period of November 2006 through December 2006, defendants failed to permit plaintiff to incur an encumbrance on his inmate account to make copies in connection with an Order to Show Cause pertaining to an ongoing Article 78 proceeding plaintiff was pursuing in New York State Supreme Court, Albany County. Id. For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion for relief pursuant to Rule 56(f) (Dkt. #31) is denied, defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. #40) is granted and plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order (Dkt. #56) is denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this action on or about April 9, 2007 against defendants Scott Hodge and Angela Bartlett. Dkt. #1. In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that during the period of November 2006 through December 2006, by reason of defendants' denial of plaintiff's request to incur an encumbrance on his inmate account, defendants denied plaintiff access to the courts. At all times relevant to the allegations set forth in plaintiff's complaint, defendant Scott Hodge was employed by the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") as a Correctional Officer at Southport and among his duties, defendant Hodge served as the Law Library Supervisor. Dkt. #41, ¶¶ 1 and 6. As the Law Library Supervisor, defendant Hodge received and reviewed inmate requests for photocopying services. Id. at ¶ 7. Photocopying is conducted at the law library and costs 8 cents per page. Id. In addition, at all times relevant to the allegations set forth in plaintiff's complaint, defendant Angela Bartlett was employed by DOCS as the Deputy Superintendent for Program Services at Southport. Dkt. #42, ¶ 1. As part of her duties as the Deputy Superintendent for Program Services, defendant Bartlett served as Southport's Law Library Administrator. Id. at ¶ 6. On occasion, the Law Library Supervisor may consult with the Law Library Administrator during his or her review of inmate requests for an encumbrance for photocopying. Id. at ¶ 7.

DOCS Directive 4483 titled "Law Libraries & Inmate Legal Assistance and Notary Public Services" provides for, inter alia, the parameters for photocopying services. Dkt. #42, pp.7-11. DOCS Directive 4483I provides:

Photocopying. The facility shall provide reasonable photocopying service to inmates requesting copies of their legal papers and/or Law Library materials, subject to copyright regulations. The Law Library Supervisor or other staff assigned to facilitate the legal photocopying service shall review all materials submitted to ensure that they are legal in nature. All photocopying requests must be accompanied by a disbursement form (IAS 2706). All disbursement forms for legal photocopying must be forwarded to the Business Office no later than the end of the shift when received. Absent extenuating circumstances, the inmate must receive his or her photocopies within five business days of receipt of the disbursement from (IAS 2706) in the Business Office. Two-day commissary holds, where applicable, might increase the delivery deadline to seven days. Fees shall be assessed equal to the facility's cost of reproduction excluding costs for staff time.

An inmate lacking sufficient funds may not receive photocopying services unless the Law Library Supervisor, in consultation with the Law Library Administrator or Counsel's Office, approves an encumbrance for same. Encumbrances will only be authorized for photocopies of specific documents that are required by the courts that cannot be replicated longhand.

Dkt. #41, p.8. As explained by both defendant Hodge and defendant Bartlett, "[t]he determination on [sic] which documents can be replicated longhand are judgment calls made on a case by case basis by the Law Library Supervisor and/or the Law Library Administrator." Dkt. #41, ¶ 9; Dkt. #42, ¶ 9. Moreover, defendant Bartlett further explained that, "[t]he purpose of the DOCS requirements for photocopying encumbrances are to prevent inmate abuses of prison services and to prevent the resulting financial hardship to the taxpayers of the State of New York that would result from excessive copies being made." Dkt. #42, ¶ 10.

Plaintiff commenced an Article 78 proceeding in New York State Supreme Court, Albany County, Index No. 7041-06 challenging the result of a disciplinary hearing. Dkt. #44, ΒΆΒΆ 3-4. In the Article 78 proceeding, plaintiff attempted to challenge an April 13, 2006 disposition wherein he was found guilty of violating rule 113.10, possession of a weapon, while he was being housed at the Wende Correctional Facility. Dkt. #43, pp.6-16. In his complaint, plaintiff alleged that pursuant to an Order to Show Cause issued by New York State Supreme Court, Albany County, Honorable Joseph C. Teresi, plaintiff was ...


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