Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Johnson v. Akins

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

October 2, 2019

BOBBY DUANE JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
TORRANCE AKINS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before me upon review of an amended complaint filed by plaintiff Bobby Duane Johnson, a prisoner who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. For the reasons discussed below, I will give plaintiff the opportunity to file a second amended complaint.

         Background

         Plaintiff is a convicted and sentenced state prisoner who is currently incarcerated at the Pemiscot County Jail. He initiated this civil action by filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Torrance Akins, the Jail Administrator. He alleged he was being denied access to the law library, but did not allege that the lack of access deprived him of a specific opportunity to defend himself or advance a viable legal claim in any legal matter. After filing the complaint, plaintiff filed two letters addressed to the Clerk of this Court. In the first letter, plaintiff wrote that the defendant was retaliating against him for filing this lawsuit and for filing grievances. He also wrote he was “assaulted because he left some people in the pod that should not have been in here, ” and wished to press charges. In the second letter, plaintiff wrote that his legal mail was being opened, and that he wished to press charges for a hate crime. He attached copies of grievances he filed concerning access to the law library and having to wait for copies.

         On July 8, 2019, I entered an order explaining that the complaint failed to state an access-to-courts claim. I also acknowledged that it appeared plaintiff wished to bring additional claims before the Court, but writing letters to the Clerk of the Court was an impermissible way to do so. I gave plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint to properly set forth the claims he wished to bring. In so doing, I specifically instructed him about how to prepare the amended complaint. Subsequently, plaintiff filed an amended complaint, followed by two more letters addressed to the Clerk of the Court. I will now review the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), this 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 may be granted. To determine whether an action states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court engages in a two-step inquiry. First, the Court determines whether the allegations in the complaint are entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth if they are merely “legal conclusions” or “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements.” Id. at 678. Second, the Court determines whether the complaint contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

         A claim is plausible on its face where “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, ” id., and “raise[s] a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the inference of more than the “mere possibility of misconduct, ” the complaint has alleged, but has not shown, that the pleader is entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (if the well-pleaded facts are merely consistent with wrongdoing, the complaint stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility). Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim is a context-specific task that requires the court to draw upon experience and common sense. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         This Court must liberally construe complaints filed by laypeople. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). This means that “if the essence of an allegation is discernible, ” the court should “construe the complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.” Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004)). However, even pro se complaints must 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). Federal courts are not required to assume facts that are not alleged, Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15, nor are they required to interpret procedural rules so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff filed the amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Torrance Akins. He sues Akins in his official and individual capacity.

         Plaintiff states he is being denied access to the courts in that he has been denied access to a “full up to date law library” since November 1, 2018, and therefore cannot research any of his issues. In describing how the denial of access affected him, plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights are being violated, he is being denied due process and the effective assistance of counsel, his right to present a defense and have a fair trial are being violated, he is being subjected to double jeopardy, and he should have been released in February.

         Next, plaintiff alleges that Akins told two other inmates that plaintiff was a rat because plaintiff had “filed on him” and that he “would not give them any more contraband.” At some point after that, one of the inmates assaulted plaintiff. Plaintiff describes this as a “hate crime.” Plaintiff alleges that Akins repeatedly tells inmates that plaintiff is a rat, he put plaintiff's entire pod on segregation and told the jail that they were the offender pod, and he endangered the lives of plaintiff and other inmates by placing them back in general population.

         As relief, plaintiff asks me to “make them place a up to date full law library back in the County Jail, so everyone will have access to the courts so their constitutional rights will not be ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.