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Bauer v. Glaser

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

June 3, 2016

JEREMY BAUER, Plaintiff,
v.
JACOB GLASER, BRANDON KNUTSON, DARIN YOUNG, and DAVID GILBERTSON, C.J, Defendants.

          ORDER DIRECTING SERVICE IN PART AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT IN PART

          KAREN E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Jeremy Bauer, is an inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP) in Sioux Falls. He filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Docket 1. The court has now screened Bauer’s complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons stated below, Bauer’s complaint is dismissed in part and survives screening in part.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         According to Bauer’s complaint, on September 21, 2015, Bauer’s habeas petition was dismissed in South Dakota circuit court. Docket 1 at 5. SDSP received this order on September 23, 2015. Id. Jacob Glaser, [1] the Unit Coordinator in charge of delivering legal mail to inmates and assigning inmate jobs, delivered the circuit court’s order to Bauer on September 26, 2015. Id. at 5-6.

         In response, Bauer prepared and had notarized a motion for a certificate of probable cause and a motion to appoint counsel. Id. at 6. On October 6, 2015, Bauer gave these documents to Glaser to send. Id. at 7. The next day, Glaser called Bauer into his office and told him that in order to send his legal documents, Bauer would have to sign a money transfer form to pay for the postage. Id. Bauer alleges that Department of Corrections Policy states that prisoners do not have to pay for postage on outgoing legal mail. Id. Glaser did not deliver the documents to the mailroom until October 8, 2015. Id. at 8.

         Bauer alleges that the motion he delivered to Glaser on October 6 was not due under South Dakota state laws until October 14 at the earliest. Id. at 8-9. The South Dakota Supreme Court received Bauer’s motion on October 13, 2015. Id. at 9. In an order signed by Chief Justice David Gilbertson, the South Dakota Supreme Court dismissed Bauer’s motion because it was filed twenty-two days after entry of the circuit court’s order. Id.

         Bauer filed grievances complaining that Glaser delayed mailing his motions. Id. at 10. After investigating, Brendan Knutson responded to Bauer’s grievances, telling him that Glaser had called Bauer to receive his mail multiple times before September 26, 2015. Id.

         On November 16, 2015, Bauer delivered to Glaser a motion to reconsider, an affidavit in support of his motion, and proof of service to send to the South Dakota Supreme Court. Id. Glaser again required Bauer to pay for postage. Id. at 11. Glaser delivered these documents to the mail room on November 19, 2015. Id. On November 20, 2015, Glaser had Bauer sign another money transfer form to pay postage to mail these documents. Id.

         On November 24, 2015, the South Dakota Supreme Court received these documents. Id. They were returned pursuant to SDCL 15-26A-91, which states that “[a] petition for reinstatement of an appeal dismissed by the Supreme Court may be served and filed within twenty days after entry of the order of dismissal." Docket 1 at 11.

         On December 1, 2015, Daniel Ducret, another inmate at SDSP, told Bauer that there was an announcement on November 30, 2015, over the PA system calling Bauer to pick up his legal mail. Id. at 12; Docket 5 at 1. Bauer was at work and could not hear the announcement. Docket 1 at 12. On February 15, 2016, Bauer sent a letter to Warden Darin Young explaining everything that had happened in connection with his legal mail. Id. Young did not respond. Id.

         On April 20, 2016, Bauer filed his complaint in federal court. Docket 1. He claimed that defendants had violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, specifically his right of access to the courts, his right to due process, and his right to equal protection. Id. at 4. Bauer requests as relief that the court declare that Chief Justice Gilbertson, Glaser, Knutson, and Young violated Bauer’s constitutional rights. Id. at 14. He also requests $50, 000 in compensatory damages and $100, 000 in punitive damages. Id.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The court must accept the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Schriener v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 774 F.3d 442, 444 (8th Cir. 2014). Civil rights and pro se complaints must be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted); Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc., 354 F.3d 835, 839 (8th Cir. 2004). Even with this construction, “a pro se complaint must contain specific facts supporting its conclusions." Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985); Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 518 F.App'x 502, 504 (8th Cir. 2013). Civil rights complaints cannot be merely conclusory. Davis v. Hall, 992 F.2d 151, 152 (8th Cir. 1993); Parker v. Porter, 221 F. App’x 481, 482 (8th Cir. 2007).

         A complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations . . . [but] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “If a plaintiff cannot make the requisite showing, dismissal is appropriate." Abdullah v. Minnesota, 261 F. App’x 926, 927 (8th Cir. 2008); Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985).

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this court must screen prisoner claims and determine whether they are (1) frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (2) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is ...


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