United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff
Malcolm Jackson, an inmate at the Farmington Correctional
Center, for leave to commence this civil action without
prepayment of the required filing fee. (Docket No. 6/filed
April 3, 2017). The motion will be granted. In addition,
for the reasons explained below, this case will be dismissed.
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), a prisoner bringing a civil
action in forma pauperis is required to pay the full amount
of the filing fee. If the prisoner has insufficient funds in
his prison account to pay the entire fee, the Court must
assess and, when funds exist, collect an initial partial
filing fee of 20 percent of the greater of (1) the average
monthly deposits in the prisoner's account, or (2) the
average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the
prior six-month period. After payment of the initial partial
filing fee, the prisoner is required to make monthly payments
of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to
the prisoner's account. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The
agency having custody of the prisoner will forward these
monthly payments to the Clerk of Court each time the amount
in the prisoner's account exceeds $10.00, until the
filing fee is fully paid. Id.
support of the instant motion, plaintiff submitted a
certified inmate account statement showing an average monthly
balance of $103.44. The Court therefore assesses an initial
partial filing fee of $20.69, twenty percent of
petitioner's average monthly balance.
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss
a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is
frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief under
§ 1983, a complaint must plead more than “legal
conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere
conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a
plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere
possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679.
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to,
inter alia, draw upon judicial experience and common
sense. Id. at 679.
must liberally construe a pro se complaint, and
accept as true the factual allegations therein. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, even pro
se complaints are required to allege facts which, if
true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law. Martin
v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980);
see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th
Cir. 2004) (federal courts are not required to “assume
facts that are not alleged, just because an additional
factual allegation would have formed a stronger
complaint”). The rule that a court must accept a
complaint's allegations as true is inapplicable to legal
conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In addition,
affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a
liberal construction does not mean that procedural rules in
ordinary civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse
mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil
v. U.S., 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
initiated this action on February 21, 2017, using a form
entitled “Verified Criminal Complaint and Affidavit of
Facts.” (Docket No. 1). Named as defendants are Matt
Briesacher, General Counsel for the Missouri Department of
Corrections, and Sara Rogers, a mailroom supervisor.
checked boxes on the form complaint alleging that defendants
are guilty of the crimes defined in Title 18 U.S.C.
§§ 872, 1509, 1519, and 1623. In support, plaintiff
alleges that “incarcerated persons” are charged
“extra postage.” (Id. at 2). He states
that his sister once asked him why he put extra postage on a
letter when she was able to mail a one-ounce letter using a
single stamp. He alleges that, over a four-month period,
Rogers “held letters or cards of mine with the same
notice ‘wet envelope' or ‘not enough postage
required.'” (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges
that a notice was posted on the bulletin board in January of
2017 notifying of a postage rate increase, which is an
“illegally executed act obstructed process of the
procedure!” (Id. at 3). Plaintiff does not
allege that his legal mail was affected, or that he was ever
completely deprived of sending or receiving any type of mail.
Throughout the complaint, plaintiff purports to bring claims
on behalf of incarcerated people in general. As relief, he
states he wants this Court to order an investigation.
allegations that defendants have committed criminal
wrongdoing are not cognizable. Linda R.S. v. Richard
D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973) (a citizen “lacks a
judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or
nonprosecution of another”). This Court lacks the
authority to launch criminal investigations, file criminal
charges, or to direct a prosecuting attorney to file charges.
Bordenkircher v. Hayes, 434 U.S. 357, 364 (1978)
(the decision whether to prosecute, and what charge to file
or bring before a grand jury, generally rests entirely in the
prosecutor's discretion); see also Diamond v.
Charles, 476 U.S. 54, 64 (1986). Because the complaint
states no cognizable claims, it will be dismissed.
plaintiff leave to amend to bring his claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 would be futile. To state a claim under §
1983, a plaintiff must establish: (1) the violation of a
right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States, and (2) that the alleged deprivation of that right
was committed by a person acting under color of state law. 42
U.S.C. § 1983; West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
(1988). Plaintiff's allegations would not satisfy the
first prong because inmates have no
constitutionally-protected interest in obtaining postage as
cheaply as possible. See McCall v. Keefe Supply Co.,
71 F. App'x 779, 780 (10th Cir. 2003). In addition, while
plaintiff states that some of his mail was held because it
did not conform with a prison regulation, he does not claim
that any of his mail was thrown away or destroyed.
Plaintiff's allegations would therefore merely amount to
claims of delay or inconvenience. While prisoners enjoy a
limited right to correspond with people outside the prison,