United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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.
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
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).
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)).
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.
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).
filed the amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Torrance Akins. He sues Akins in his official and
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.
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
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 ...