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.

Halpin v. Patrissi

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 15, 2013

Christopher Halpin, Esq., Administrator for the Estate of David Carriger, Gary Parizo, Plaintiffs,
v.
Joseph J. Patrissi, John Gorczyk, Heinz Arenz, Charles Hatin, Kathy Lanman, Defendants. Mitchell King, Plaintiff,
v.
Heinz Arenz, State of Vermont Department of Corrections, Defendants. Johnny Lopez, Plaintiff,
v.
John Gorczyk, Ray Pillete, Defendants. Richard Stempel, Plaintiff,
v.
Howard B. Dean, III, John G. Gorczyk, Raymond Pillette, Heinz Arenz, Karen St. Lawrence, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER (Doc. 122)

J. GARVAN MURTHA, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is a motion to add Vermont inmate Kirk Wool as a party to a previously-denied motion to enforce a 1997 stipulation entered into by the Vermont Department of Corrections ("DOC"). The stipulation resulted in the promulgation of a DOC Directive on prisoner legal resources. The current motion alleges violations of the stipulation/Directive, and seeks to serve both as a motion to amend and as an addendum to the previously considered motion. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and because the motion to amend is moot.

Background

The pending motion to amend is the latest in a series of recent motions filed by Vermont inmates seeking to enforce the terms of the 1997 stipulation. (Doc. 113.) The stipulation constituted the conclusion of litigation commenced in 1989 by a separate group of Vermont inmates regarding the legal resources available to them in prison. In the final stipulation, the inmates agreed to dismiss their claims in consideration for the "promulgation and acceptance of" a new DOC policy regarding inmate access to legal material and the courts. That policy has been codified in DOC Directive 385.01. (Doc. 109-1 at 3.)

On September 20, 2010, a group of Vermont inmates filed a motion to enforce the stipulation, claiming that the DOC had failed to adhere to Directive 385.01. (Doc. 104.) Specifically, the movants alleged that in early 2010, the DOC removed all computers from its prison law libraries in response to an inmate's discovery of certain content on one of the computers. The movants claimed that the computer in question, like many other prison computers, had been purchased used, and that the hard drive had not been properly "scrubbed." Without computers, inmates reportedly could not access Westlaw or other on-line legal resources.

As a partial substitute for on-site legal resources, the DOC allegedly implemented a request system, whereby inmates could mail research requests to DOC Legal Education Director Carol Callea, Esq. The movants argued that the request system was inadequate. They also criticized the more recent implementation of a "Kiosk read only system" in prison law libraries, claiming that the system was "not user friendly." Id. at 7.

The DOC responded to the motion with an affidavit from Attorney Callea which stated she was "continu[ing] to provide and update" a host of materials consistent with Directive 385.01, including: responses to specific inmate requests; inmate legal files that were previously stored on prison computers; legal education and court opinion manuals; and court forms relevant to Vermont inmates. (Doc. 109-2 at 18.) Attorney Callea also confirmed that a computer Kiosk system was installed in January 2011 to provide on-line access to, among other things, the Federal Reporter and Federal Supplement, Vermont cases, state and federal statutes, and U.S. Supreme Court opinions. Id.

In denying the motion to enforce, the Court noted that The Directive states its purpose, defines terms, and outlines available services by Inmate Law Librarians and Inmate Legal Assistants. Movants do not contend that these services are unavailable. The Directive also requires superintendents to provide access to legal materials and assistance, writing supplies, policy manuals, and photocopying services. There is no claim that these services are not being provided.

(Doc. 112 at 5.) The Court also found that "movants' contention that the Kiosks are not user-friendly fails to establish DOC is not in compliance with Directive 385.01." Id. at 6.

On January 18, 2012, inmate Isaach Faham filed a separate motion to enforce. The motion recounted the removal of prison computers by the DOC in early 2010, and contended that materials stored on those computers had not yet been returned to inmates. Faham also alleged that the DOC "used the situation to hi[]jack policy 385.01 by removing all the computers and the... required resources contained on them." (Doc. 113 at 2.) Faham alleged generally that inmates were not being provided adequate time in the law library, and that requesting legal materials in writing was inefficient and inadequate. As in its previous Opinion and Order, the Court found that in light of the broad provisions of Directive 385.01, as well as Attorney Callea's affidavit, the motion failed to demonstrate a specific breach of the terms of the 1997 stipulation.

The most recent filing in the case is an "addendum" to Faham's motion to enforce, together with a motion to add inmate Kirk Wool as a movant. Wool was a party to the September 2010 motion to enforce.

This latest filing details problems Wool has experienced while trying to use the Kiosk computer system, including sudden "shut offs, " inconsistent search results, and an inability to locate the cases cited in Defendants' opposition memorandum. (Doc. 120 at 1-2.) The addendum also alleges books in the prison law libraries are out of date, library legal aides are inadequately trained, and inmate time in the library is generally limited to five to ten hours per week. DOC Directives require that inmate legal assistants successfully complete a legal assistant education program, and Directive 385.01 Section 4.3.2.1.5 requires that inmates be provided library access of "no less than 12 hours of scheduled time each week, subject to security and disciplinary policies, directives and facility procedures previously established."

The Court previously denied the motion to amend and addendum, without prejudice and with leave to re-file, because it was not accompanied by a certificate of service as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 5(d)(1). After the Court denied Faham's motion to enforce, the ...


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.