695 Fed.Appx. 151 (7th Cir. 2017), 15-3325, Wheeler v. Talbot

Docket Nº:15-3325
Citation:695 Fed.Appx. 151
Party Name:ANTHONY WHEELER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. PAUL A. TALBOT, KEITH ANGLIN, and YOLANDE JOHNSON, Defendants-Appellees
Judge Panel:Before WILLIAM J. BAUER, Circuit Judge, FRANK H. EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge, ILANA DIAMOND ROVNER, Circuit Judge.
Case Date:June 05, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 151

695 Fed.Appx. 151 (7th Cir. 2017)

ANTHONY WHEELER, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

PAUL A. TALBOT, KEITH ANGLIN, and YOLANDE JOHNSON, Defendants-Appellees

No. 15-3325

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 5, 2017

Submitted March 8, 2017.[*]

Editorial Note:

NONPRECEDENTIAL DISPOSITION. (See Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1)

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 12-2281. David G. Bernthal, Magistrate Judge.

Wheeler v. Talbot, (C.D. Ill., Jan. 25, 2013)

Before WILLIAM J. BAUER, Circuit Judge, FRANK H. EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge, ILANA DIAMOND ROVNER, Circuit Judge.

Page 152

ORDER

In this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Anthony Wheeler contends that two defendants violated the First Amendment by threatening to punish him if he continued to file grievances and mail letters about " some of the day-to-day activity" at the prison, and that a third violated the Eighth Amendment by refusing to treat his keloids. The claims are unrelated and were improperly joined; the district court should have severed them or dismissed one claim. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 18; George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007). Instead of doing that, the court (acting through a magistrate judge on the parties' consent, see 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)) granted summary judgment to both sets of defendants. Resolving both claims in a single suit did not prejudice anyone other than the United States Treasury, which has been deprived of an extra filing fee, and is not a jurisdictional problem, so we turn to the merits.

We start with the claim under the First Amendment. After arriving at Danville Correctional Center, Wheeler began filing intra-prison grievances and writing letters to state and federal officials. He related that he complained about the food, which he says led to swelling, pain, dizziness, and vomiting. Construed in the light favorable to him, evidence shows that Keith Anglin (the prison's warden) and Yolande Johnson (deputy director for the Department of Corrections' central district) summoned Wheeler to a meeting and threatened to punish him or confiscate his typewriter if he continued filing grievances and writing to public officials. After this meeting, Wheeler filed a grievance against both Anglin and Johnson. Wheeler tells us that he has continued to file grievances and send letters and that, so far, Anglin and Johnson have not carried out their threats. Wheeler contends that, despite the lack of action, the threats cause him emotional

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distress, for which he seeks damages.

In the world outside of prison, threats to penalize speech are usually understood as attempts by the government to exercise prior restraint, a classic violation of the First Amendment. See, e.g., Surita v. Hyde, 665 F.3d 860, 878 (7th Cir. 2011); Fairley v. Andrews, 578 F.3d 518, 525 (7th Cir. 2009). But prisoners' rights to speak are subject to restrictions to promote legitimate public interests. See, e.g., Saxbe v. Washington Post Co., 417 U.S. 843, 94 S.Ct. 2811, 41...

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