Sanchez v. Stephens, 051817 FED5, 15-41726

Docket Nº:15-41726
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM
Party Name:MOISES SANCHEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant v. WILLIAM STEPHENS; FRANK D. HOKE; CANDACE R. MOORE, Defendants-Appellees
Judge Panel:Before HIGGINBOTHAM, PRADO, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:May 18, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

MOISES SANCHEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant



No. 15-41726

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

May 18, 2017

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas USDC No. 2:15-CV-393

Before HIGGINBOTHAM, PRADO, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.


Moises Sanchez, Texas prisoner # 1320836, appeals the dismissal of his pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint, in which he alleged that his constitutional right of access to the courts was violated due to the absence of legal materials in Spanish, which is the only language he can understand, or assistance in Spanish by someone trained in the law. Sanchez also moves for the appointment of counsel.

The district court dismissed Sanchez's suit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), on the ground that it failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and was frivolous. Sanchez challenges the district court's determination that his claims should be dismissed because he did not show that the absence of legal materials or assistance in Spanish prejudiced him with respect to a nonfrivolous claim or prevented him from presenting a nonfrivolous claim. Sanchez asserts that he has been prevented from filing actionable claims to challenge his criminal conviction and prison disciplinary cases. He further asserts that he was impeded in the district court proceedings because the denial of his motion for the appointment of counsel and the refusal to provide translations of the court's orders hindered his ability to respond.

We apply de novo review to the district court's dismissal of Sanchez's suit. See Green v. Atkinson, 623 F.3d 278, 279-80 (5th Cir. 2010). There is no "abstract, freestanding right to a law library or legal assistance." Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). To prevail on a denial-of-access claim, an inmate must demonstrate an actual injury by showing "that the alleged shortcomings in the library or legal assistance program hindered his ability to pursue a legal claim." Id.

"[A]n inmate cannot establish relevant actual injury simply by...

To continue reading