United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Mark Nance, an inmate at Coastal State Prison, has submitted
a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Complaint alleging that he was denied
appropriate access to the prison's law library and that
his grievances were not properly handled. See Doc. 1. After
rectifying noted deficiencies in his motion to proceed in
forma pauperis ('IFP"), docs. 2-4, the Court
granted him leave to proceed IFP. Doc. 6. The Court now
screens Nance's case under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), which allows a district court to dismiss
sua sponte an IFP plaintiffs claims for failure to
state a claim before service of process. See also 28
U.S.C. § 1915A (courts must identify "cognizable
claims" filed by prisoners or other detainees and
dismiss claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state
a claim for relief, or seek monetary relief from a defendant
immune from such relief); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(2)
(allowing dismissal on the same four standards provided by
§ 1915A as to any prisoner suit brought "with
respect to prison conditions").
alleges that Coastal State Prison is restricting his access
to the law library and hindering his ability to file a
grievance addressing that issue. Doc. 1 at 5. However, Nance
admits that he has been able to access the library seven
times in the last two months, although he notes that the time
he spent in the library was less than two hours. Id.
And he also states that he was ultimately able to file a
grievance, although he did not receive a number or
response. Id. As relief, Plaintiff requests
that the Court "[o]rder Coastal State Prison to take the
S.O.P regulations seriously and stop depriving prison inmates
of badly needed Law Library time or visits."
Id. at 6.
Nance's Access to the Courts Claim
request for library access implicates the constitutionally
guaranteed right of inmates to access the courts. Bounds
v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 824-25 (1997); Bey v.
Haines, 2016 WL 492316 at *2 (W.D. Wis. Feb. 5, 2016).
But, while inmates must be provided access to the courts,
they do not enjoy any "abstract, freestanding right to a
law library or legal assistance." Lewis v.
Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). More importantly,
Plaintiff must first establish standing to sue by alleging
that the impediments imposed on his access to the law library
at Coastal State Prison caused him to suffer some actual
injury. Id. at 351-55. This requirement "is not
satisfied by just any type of frustrated legal claim.
Specifically, [Nance] must show that the denial of access to
court prejudiced him in a criminal appeal, post-conviction
matter, or in a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 'to vindicate basic constitutional
rights.'" Gold v. Geo Grp. Inc., 2016 WL
7034404 at *11 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 2, 2016) (citations omitted)
(quoting Casey, 518 U.S. at 354; Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 579 (1974)).
Nance alleges that he "desperately needed" to
access the law library, he neither shows that he was deprived
of that access (he states he did indeed access the law
library) or that he was harmed (he has pointed to no action
for which he needed legal research). Doc. 1 at 5. Plaintiffs
claim seems instead to be a generalized argument on why
prisoners as a whole should have more easy access to the law
library. See Id. at 6 (arguing why further access to
law libraries would help inmates prosecute theoretical legal
actions). Accurate or not, these statements do not suffice to
show actual injury. As Nance has not offered any facts
showing that the prison's policies have caused him actual
injury, he lacks standing to bring the claim and it should be
Nance's Grievance Claim
claim that he has been hindered in filing a grievance also
fails. "Procedural requirements alone do not create a
substantive liberty interest, and mere violation of such
procedures is not a constitutional violation."
Rienholtz v. Campbell, 64 F.Supp.2d 721, 731 (W.D.
Tenn. 1999) (citations omitted), see also Massey v.
Helman, 259 F.3d 641, 647 (7th Cir. 2001) («[T]he
existence of a prison grievance procedure confers no liberty
interest on a prisoner."); Adams v. Rice, 40
F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994) ("[T]he Constitution creates
no entitlement to grievance procedures or access to any such
procedure voluntarily established by a state.").
"[A]lleged misdeeds regarding grievance procedures do
not give rise to stand-alone claims under § 1983."
Schlachter v. Strength, 2010 WL 1010746 *5 (S.D. Ga.
March 15, 2010) (citing Buckley v. Barlow, 997 F.2d
494, 495 (8th Cir. 1993) (per curiam).
says that he attempted to file a grievance regarding his
access to the law library, but was refused the opportunity by
two separate prison counselors. Doc. 1 at 5. He then gave his
grievance to a third counselor who filed it, but Nance never
received a number or a response. Id. He ultimately
contacted the Superintendent about his grievance. Id.
at 7. Regardless of whether this series of allegations
reflects an issue with the grievance system at Coastal State
Prison, federal courts do not "sit as the ultimate
appellate tribunal for prison grievance procedures."
Reinholtz, 64 F.Supp.2d at 731. Plaintiffs Complaint
hinges on whether his grievance was handled properly under
the policies of the prison. This Court reviews "whether
a constitutional right has been infringed, not
whether bureaucratic procedures have been violated."
Id. (emphasis in original.) As a result, Plaintiffs
Complaint on the processing of his grievances fails to state
a claim and should be dismissed.
its facial frivolity, Plaintiffs Complaint should be
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE with no re-pleading
option warranted. Dysart v. BankTrust, 516 Fed.Appx.
861, 865 (11th Cir. 2013) ("[District court did not err
in denying Dysart's request to amend her complaint
because an amendment would have been futile.");
Langlois v. Traveler's Ins. Co., 401 Fed.Appx.
425, 426-27 (11th Cir. 2010); Simmons v. Edmondson,
225 Fed.Appx. 787, 788-89 (11th Cir. 2007) (district court
did not err in dismissing complaint with prejudice without
first giving plaintiff leave to amend because no amendment
could have overcome the defendants'
it is time for Nance to pay his filing fee. His PLEA
paperwork reflects $0 in average monthly deposits and
balances. Doc. 8 at 1. He therefore owes a $0 initial partial
filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
(requiring an initial fee assessment "when funds
exist," under a specific 20 percent formula). Plaintiffs
custodian (or designee) shall set aside 20 percent of all
future deposits to his account, then forward those funds to
the Clerk each time the set aside amount reaches $10.00,
until the balance of the Court's $350 filing fee has been
paid in full.
Clerk is DIRECTED to send this Report and
Recommendation (R&R) to Nance's account custodian
immediately, as this payment directive is nondispositive
within the meaning of Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a), so no Rule 72(b)
adoption is required. In the event he is transferred to
another institution, his present custodian shall forward a
copy of this R&R and all financial information concerning
payment of the filing fee and costs in this case to
Plaintiffs new custodian. The balance due from Plaintiff