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McGaha v. Stirling

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

December 13, 2018

Marshall Dewitt McGaha, Petitioner,
v.
Bryan P. Stirling, Respondent.

          REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Kevin F. McDonald Greenville, United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the court on the petitioner's motion (doc. 29), which was docketed by the Clerk of Court as a motion for copies at no expense and a motion to be able to go to the library. In this case, the petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review post-trial petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.

         In his motion, the petitioner asks that the court provide him with a copy of his supplement to the response in opposition to the respondent's motion for summary judgment (doc. 28), which was sent to the prison's mailroom on November 19, 2018, and was filed in this Court on November 26, 2018. According to the petitioner, the prison's mailroom failed to make a copy of the document for him, and he asks that the court return a copy to him in the stamped envelope he has provided (doc. 29 at 1). While the petitioner was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, this status only exempts litigants from paying the filing fee in full at the time the lawsuit is filed; it does not entitle the petitioner to free copies of documents filed in this case. See, e.g., Temple v. Oconee Cty., C.A. No. 6:13-144-JFA-KFM, 2014 WL 4417702, at *14 (D.S.C. Sept. 8, 2014) (“[T]he plaintiff's in forma pauperis status applies only to the filing fee for the particular case. As a result, the plaintiff is not entitled to free photocopies from this court of documents filed in his prior cases or pending cases . . . .”). However, in this one instance, the undersigned will direct the Clerk of Court to provide the petitioner with a copy of the requested filing.

         In his motion, the petitioner states that he has been on lock down since April, and he requests the following:

I also need a court order from the judge to be able to go to mail room and to the law library. It's impossible for me to look up case law to fight my case. Please return the debit form also, so that I can file a grievance on the mail room and the Warden Stephon. I have an iron plate on window, plus window painted and have no sunlight, and get no rec, only 1 shower per week, and have no charges to be treated like this.

(Doc. 29 at 1-2). To the extent this request is construed as a motion for preliminary injunction, it should be denied.

         “Preliminary injunctions are not to be granted automatically.” Wetzel v. Edwards, 635 F.2d 283, 286 (4th Cir. 1980). Such relief regarding the administration of a state prison should be granted only in compelling circumstances. See Taylor v. Freeman, 34 F.3d 266, 269 (4th Cir. 1994). A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish all four of the following elements: (1) he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008); The Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 575 F.3d 342, 346-47 (4th Cir. 2009), vacated on other grounds by 559 U.S. 1089(2010), reinstated in relevant part on remand by 607 F.3d 355 (4th Cir. 2010). A plaintiff must make a clear showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claim. Winter, 555 U.S. at 22; Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 345-46. Similarly, he must make a clear showing that he is likely to be irreparably harmed absent injunctive relief. Winter, 555 U.S. at 20-23; Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 347. Only then may the court consider whether the balance of equities tips in the plaintiff's favor. See Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 346-47. Finally, the Court must pay particular regard to the public consequences of employing the extraordinary relief of injunction. Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 347 (quoting Winter, 555 U.S. at 24).

         The plaintiff has failed to meet the standard for issuance of a preliminary injunction. As to his concerns regarding his legal mail and access to the law library, the plaintiff has failed to show that he is likely to succeed on the merits nor has he shown a likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief. "To prevail on a claim of denial of access to the court, prisoners must demonstrate actual injury." Long v. Vaughan, 652 Fed.Appx. 176, 178 (4th Cir. 2016) (citing Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 350-51 (1996)). "[A] prisoner must show that the prison policies 'hindered his effort to pursue a legal claim.'" Id. (quoting Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351). The petitioner has not indicated that he missed any deadline or was hindered from pursuing any claim as a result of the prison's policies. Further, the petitioner's allegation is belied by his numerous motions and responses to motions that have been received and filed with the Court (see docs. 10, 15, 23, 27, 28, 30). Notably, in the past two months, the petitioner has filed a response in opposition to the respondent's motion for summary judgment, a sur-reply, and a supplement, as well as the motion now at issue (docs. 23, 27, 28, 29). As to the remainder of his claims regarding access to “rec” time and the shower, the petitioner has also failed to meet the standard for a preliminary injunction. Further, as noted by the respondent, the petitioner has administrative remedies available for such claims.

         Wherefore, based upon the foregoing, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the petitioner's motion (doc. 29), construed as a motion for preliminary injunction, be denied. The Clerk of Court is directed to mail to the petitioner a copy of his supplement to the response in opposition to the respondent's motion for summary judgment (doc. 28).

         IT IS SO RECOMMENDED.

         Notice of Right to File Objections to Report and Recommendation

         The parties are advised that they may file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation with the District Judge. Objections must specifically identify the portions of the Report and Recommendation to which objections are made and the basis for such objections. “[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).

         Specific written objections must be filed within fourteen (14) days of the date of service of this Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a), (d). Filing by mail pursuant to Federal ...


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