694 F.Supp. 259 (E.D.Mich. 1988), Civ. A. 80-73581, Hadix v. Johnson

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 80-73581
Citation:694 F.Supp. 259
Party Name:Hadix v. Johnson
Case Date:July 01, 1988
Court:United States District Courts, 6th Circuit

Page 259

694 F.Supp. 259 (E.D.Mich. 1988)

Everett HADIX, et al., Plaintiffs,


Perry JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 80-73581.

United States District Court, D. Michigan

July 1, 1988

Page 260

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 261

Larry Bennett, Butzel, Keidan, Simon, Myers & Graham, Patricia Streeter, Deborah A. LaBelle, Michael J. Barnhart, and Charlene M. Snow, Detroit, Mich., for plaintiffs.

Susan Harris and Elaine D. Fischhoff, Asst. Attys. Gen., Thomas C. Nelson, Lansing, Mich., for defendants.


Description Number
----------- ------
I. Background ......................................................... 262
II. The Issue .......................................................... 262
III. Procedures Used to Compile a Record Upon Which to Determine the
Meaningfulness of Inmate Access to the Courts .................... 263
IV. Proofs Submitted by the parties and Court-Appointed Experts ........ 265
V. Findings of Fact ................................................... 283
VI. The Law ............................................................ 286
VII. Conclusions of Law ................................................. 291
VIII. Remedy ............................................................. 293
IX. Conclusion ......................................................... 298

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER FEIKENS, District Judge. This is an action brought by a class of inmates against officials responsible for the administration of a portion of the state prison facility located in Jackson, Michigan known as the State Prison of Southern Michigan's Central Complex (hereinafter "Central Complex" or "SPSM-CC"). Plaintiff class consists of all inmates who are now or who in the future will be housed in the Central Complex. At the time of the trial, the Central Complex population had approximately 2,400 inmates. The transient population is nearly 10,000 persons each year. Page 262 There are ten original defendants in this case. They are sued individually and in their official capacities: Perry M. Johnson, Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections (now Robert Brown); Robert Brown, Deputy Director for the Bureau of Correctional Facilities (now Daniel Bolden); Graham Allen, Food Service Supervisor; Dale Foltz, Regional Administrator and Warden (now John Jabe); Elton Scott, Deputy Warden; Pam Withroow, Deputy Warden; Frank Elo, Deputy Warden for Security; John Jabe, Business Manager; Charles Utess, Classification Director; Marjorie Van Ochten, Hearings Administrator; and John Prelesnik, Superintendent of the Reception and Guidance Center. I. BACKGROUND On September 18, 1980, the complaint in Everett Hadix v. Perry Johnson (hereinafter known as " Hadix ") was filed. The complaint raised numerous questions regarding inmates at the State Prison for Southern Michigan (hereinafter "SPSM"), their rights, conditions of confinement, and general aspects of prison life. Class certification was granted on August 28, 1981. Ten cases, filed between 1979 and 1985, raised similar issues and were consolidated with Hadix. 1 Numerous proceedings were undertaken following class certification. As the issues were sharpened, negotiation and settlement became a goal. Several conferences between the parties were held and, on February 13, 1985, a comprehensive consent judgment was entered and filed. The consent judgment deals with issues of sanitation; health care; fire safety; overcrowding and protection of inmates from harm; use of volunteers; access to the courts; food service; management (the ordering of a study to provide recommendations regarding organization, staffing and administration at the Central Complex); inmate legal mail; and compliance and inspection procedures. An integral part of the settlement is the break-up of one vast prison complex into five autonomous units. By stipulation of the parties, a basic issue as to what constitutes compliance by defendants with the United States Constitution in providing meaningful access to the courts for inmates bringing civil actions was reserved for decision. Another issue not resolved in the consent judgment relates to the classification of inmates. This issue was referred by stipulation for resolution in a matter pending in United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, United States v. State of Michigan, Civil Action No. G84-63CA. The issue of inmate access to the courts in Hadix has been refined as the case progressed. Plaintiffs' complaint alleged inadequate access to the courts as a civil rights violation based on Section 1983. 2 The consent judgment (of February, 1985), which reserved the issue for my determination, nevertheless settled related subjects such as library hours, facilities, and book collection; establishment of satellite libraries in certain segregated cell blocks; and inmate paralegal training. 3 II. THE ISSUE The central issue raised by the complaint and answer (as preserved for my determination under the consent judgment) is this: whether, and to what extent, the defendants are constitutionally required to provide Page 263 access to the courts for inmates in the Central Complex through the provision of additional attorneys, paralegals (civilian or inmate), and other means to assist inmates with civil actions (including habeas corpus proceedings) and related matters (i.e., grievances). Plaintiff class asserts that mere access to the law library system cannot provide meaningful access to the courts for inmates. The class argues that functionally illiterate inmates, indigent inmates, and those inmates housed in segregated cell blocks, do not have meaningful assistance in preparing civil matters for the courts merely through the state's furnishing a law library. The class also contends that the non-library resources available to Central Complex inmates (i.e., jailhouse lawyers and Prison Legal Services) are too unreliable to provide meaningful access to the courts for functionally illiterate, indigent, or segregated inmates who seek to bring civil actions. Relying upon Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 97 S.Ct. 1491, 52 L.Ed.2d 72 (1977), reh'd following remand, Smith v. Bounds, 610 F.Supp. 597 (E.D.N.C.1985) (legal assistance by attorneys is required to provide meaningful access to North Carolina inmates), reconsideration den'd., 657 F.Supp. 1322 (E.D.N.C.1985), second order entered 657 F.Supp. 1327 (E.D.N.C.1986), aff'd. 813 F.2d 1299 (4th Cir.1987), aff'd. on rehearing en banc 841 F.2d 77 (4th Cir.1988) (no reconsideration of district court judgment necessary), and related cases, defendants assert that their duty to assist Central Complex inmates in the preparation of civil cases, in such a manner as to provide meaningful access to the courts, is met through the furnishing of a law library system containing a minimally sufficient collection of legal texts. They argue that the availability of any non-library resources is an enhancement of the library system. III. PROCEDURES USED TO COMPILE A RECORD UPON WHICH TO DETERMINE THE MEANINGFULNESS OF INMATE ACCESS TO THE COURTS Evidence on the access issue was submitted at a trial beginning May 31, 1985. Plaintiff class, represented by a group of inmates from the Central Complex, was adjudicated to be indigent prior to the trial. Appointed attorneys presented plaintiffs' case and have continued in the role of counsel. The presentation of proofs commenced on June 3, 1985 and continued intermittently thereafter. Ten inmates testified on behalf of plaintiff class: Koster, Moore, Valeroso, Ramsey, Thornton, Martin, Ford, Beaudin, Douglas, and Moncure. Plaintiffs also presented the testimony of James Wilbur and Sandra Girard, past and present directors of Prison Legal Services; James Neuhard, Director of the Michigan State Appellate Defender's Office; John Prelesnik, Superintendent of the Reception and Guidance Center; Norman Lefstein, Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law (stipulated expert on delivery systems for incarcerated persons--specializing in legal professional ethics); and Lonnie McIntyre, Associate Professor of Education at Michigan State University (stipulated expert in reading ability). Plaintiffs' witness, John Prelesnik, Superintendent of the Reception and Guidance Center (intake unit), administers the placement test given to inmates. This test is the "standard achievement test, Form A," which measures reading and math skills. (Prelesnik, 6/4/85 pp. 155-156) The testing results are used to determine the educational level inmates have and what remedial education, if any, inmates should receive. The levels range from non-readers (below the fourth grade) to above the twelfth grade (college level). Plaintiffs' witness, Dr. Lonnie McIntyre, is an Associate Professor of Education at Michigan State University. McIntyre has taught in public schools in Illinois and Michigan. As an expert witness for plaintiffs, McIntyre administered readability tests to inmates' writing samples. The samples were randomly selected. He also Page 264 determined the readability of legal materials to which an inmate might refer in preparing a case for submission to the judicial system. The readability test as administered by McIntyre determines the difficulty of comprehension of written passages. McIntyre's readability test is actually comprised of four separate tests: the Gunning, the FRYE, the Rader, and the Fleshe. (McIntyre, 6/11/85 p. 398.) Defendants are represented by assistant state...

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