United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Curtis Richardson, a/k/a Curtis D. Richardson, a/k/a Curtis Dale Richardson, Plaintiff,
Matt Mahon, Loris S.C. Policeman, Karen Shepherd, Chief of Police of Loris, S.C., Sgt. Richardson, Major Johnson, South Carolina Department of Corrections Classification Supervisor Name Unknown, Individual and Official Capacities, Defendants.
R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge
Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brought this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is now before the court with the [ECF No. 10] Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III,  filed on October 16, 2015. In his R & R, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the court should summarily dismiss as parties, without prejudice, Defendants Sgt. Richardson, Major Johnson, and SCDC Classification Supervisor of unknown name. Plaintiff timely filed objections to the R & R. See Obj. [ECF No. 13].
In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges (relating to the defendants at issue) that he filed “grievances/requests to Major Johnson and Sgt Richardson whom are the law library personnel.” (Compl., p. 4, ECF No. 1) He alleges that they refused to allow him to use the law library although he had “multiple” cases pending in which he was pro se.
He also alleges that he was serving a sentence as a non-violent offender from 2011 to November of 2013 but that the SCDC classification supervisor changed his classification to violent. He alleges that, as a result, he was denied parole hearings and other privileges such as work release and better custody levels.
He seeks damages for the alleged violations of his constitutional rights.
Standard of Review
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objection is made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
The court is obligated to conduct a de novo review of every portion of the Magistrate Judge’s report to which objections have been filed. Id. However, the court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only “general and conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate’s proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of a timely filed, specific objection, the Magistrate Judge’s conclusions are reviewed only for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
Plaintiff brought this § 1983 action against five defendants, including the parties at issue in this order, Sgt. Richardson, Major Johnson, and the SCDC classification supervisor. The Magistrate Judge recommends summary dismissal, without prejudice, of the latter three (3) defendants. See R & R at 7. Plaintiff timely objected to that recommendation.
Defendants Sgt Richardson and Major Johnson.
In the R & R, the Magistrate Judge found that Defendants Sgt Richardson and Major Johnson should be summarily dismissed because lack of access to a law library by a pretrial detainee housed at a local jail does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. The Magistrate Judge also finds that a pretrial detainee’s right to access to the courts in preparing his defense is satisfied if he had an attorney or was offered counsel. In addition, the Magistrate Judge finds that Plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed because he has not shown actual injury from the alleged denial of access to the jail’s law library.
Plaintiff asserts in his objections that he provided Sgt. Richardson with court orders documenting his need to use the law library but that he and Major Johnson still refused to allow him to use the law library or have copies of legal materials. He also asserts that he did not have counsel in five of his cases and that he was not offered counsel and did not waive counsel in those cases. In addition, Plaintiff asserts that the Second Circuit has held that the ...