United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
JULIUS E. EDWARDS PLAINTIFF
CASE MANAGER D. THOMAS SUPERVISOR ROCHA DEFENDANTS
B. BIGGERS SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner
complaint of Julius E. Edwards, who challenges the conditions
of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the
purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes
that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit.
The plaintiff has brought the instant case under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, which provides a federal cause of action against
“[e]very person” who under color of state
authority causes the “deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleges
that the defendants denied him access to the California
Supreme Court by misdirecting his mail. The defendants have
moved  for summary judgment; the plaintiff has responded,
and the defendants have offered rebuttal in support of
summary judgment. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the
reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion  for
summary judgment will be granted, and judgment will be
entered in favor of the defendants.
judgment is appropriate if the “materials in the
record, including depositions, documents, electronically
stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials”
show that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) and (c)(1).
“The moving party must show that if the evidentiary
material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in
court, it would be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party
to carry its burden.” Beck v. Texas State Bd. of
Dental Examiners, 204 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Cir.
2000) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317
(1986), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1066 (1988)). After a
proper motion for summary judgment is made, the burden shifts
to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Beck, 204 F.3d at 633; Allen
v. Rapides Parish School Bd., 204 F.3d 619, 621
(5th Cir. 2000); Ragas v. Tennessee Gas
Pipeline Company, 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir.
1998). Substantive law determines what is material.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. “Only disputes over
facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary
will not be counted.” Id., at 248. If the
non-movant sets forth specific facts in support of
allegations essential to his claim, a genuine issue is
presented. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327. “Where
the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier
of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine
issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L.Ed.2d 538
(1986); Federal Savings and Loan, Inc. v. Krajl, 968
F.2d 500, 503 (5thCir. 1992).
facts are reviewed drawing all reasonable inferences in favor
of the non-moving party. Allen, 204 F.3d at 621;
PYCA Industries, Inc. v. Harrison County Waste Water
Management Dist., 177 F.3d 351, 161 (5th Cir.
1999); Banc One Capital Partners Corp. v. Kneipper,
67 F.3d 1187, 1198 (5th Cir. 1995). However, this
is so only when there is “an actual controversy, that
is, when both parties have submitted evidence of
contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid Air
Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994);
see Edwards v. Your Credit, Inc., 148 F.3d 427, 432
(5th Cir. 1998). In the absence of proof, the
court does not “assume that the nonmoving party could
or would prove the necessary facts.” Little,
37 F.3d at 1075 (emphasis omitted).
an action filed by a California inmate confined at the
Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility
(“TCCF”), a private prison owned and operated by
CoreCivic, Inc. (“CoreCivic”). See
generally Pl.'s Complaint. Doc. 1. CoreCivic employs
Defendant Roach, referenced as a “case manager”
in the complaint - and Defendant Thomas, a “unit
manager” and Roach's supervisor, at the TCCF.
Id. at 3.
claims that on January 6, 2016, he provided “very
important legal documents, ” including a writ of habeas
corpus and court transcripts, to Thomas to be mailed to the
“California Supreme Court.” Id. at 5.
Edwards alleges that, after providing his outgoing legal mail
to Thomas, he “contacted the court several months
later to check the status” of his documents, but the
mail had not been received. Id.
March 31, 2016, Edwards filed an inmate grievance against
Thomas, claiming that he “gave [Thomas his] legal mail
to send to the California Supreme Court” but
“[i]t never made it, ” and seeking staff
assistance to locate the documents. Id. at 9. In
response, Roach investigated the matter and interviewed
Thomas, who stated that she placed Edwards' legal
documents in the mail. Id. On April 19, 2016,
Edwards filed a First Level Appeal, which resulted in an his
interview by TCCF's Grievance Coordinator at the time,
Patricia Smith. See Ex. 1 to Ex. A of the
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. That interview
occurred on June 3, 2016. Id. During the interview,
Edwards told Smith that “he had a deadline to get this
documentation to the courts.” Id. Smith
contacted staff with the California Supreme Court, who
informed her that “[Edwards] has no deadline and can to
this time, file his writ of habeas corpus.”
Id. at 2. Edwards' First Level Appeal was thus
April 20, 2016, Edwards filed the instant suit in the United
States District Court for the Central District of California
against the defendants in their official capacities under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that they interfered with his
legal mail and impeded his right of access to courts. Doc. 1
at 1, 3. On May 3, 2016, that court transferred the case to
this one. See Doc. 4.
of Administrative Remedies
forth below, the instant case must be dismissed because the
plaintiff has not exhausted the administrative remedies
available to him regarding this claim. Congress enacted the
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C.
§1997e et seq. - including its requirement that
inmates exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing
suit - in an effort to address the large number of prisoner
complaints filed in federal courts. See Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 202 (2007). Congress meant for the
exhaustion requirement to be an effective tool to help weed
out the frivolous claims from the colorable ones:
Prisoner litigation continues to ‘account for an
outsized share of filings' in federal district courts.
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 94, n. 4, 126 S.Ct.
2378 (2006) (slip op., at 12, n.4). In 2005, nearly 10
percent of all civil cases filed in federal courts nationwide
were prisoner complaints challenging prison conditions or
claiming civil rights violations. Most of these cases have no
merit; many are frivolous. Our legal system, however, remains
committed to guaranteeing that prisoner claims of illegal
conduct by their custodians are fairly handled according to
law. The challenge lies in ensuring that the flood of
non-meritorious claims does not submerge and effectively
preclude consideration of the allegations with merit. See
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827,
104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989).
Congress addressed that challenge in the PLRA. What this
country needs, Congress decided, is fewer and better prisoner
suits. See Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524, 122
S.Ct. 983, 152 L.Ed.2d 12 (2002) (PLRA intended to
“reduce the quantity and improve the quality of
prisoner suits”). To that end, Congress enacted a
variety of reforms designed to filter out the bad claims and
facilitate consideration of the good. Key among these was the