United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. WHITNEY, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff’s Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. [Doc. 1]. The Clerk granted the Plaintiff’s
motion to proceed in forma pauperis March 30, 2019 and waived
the initial partial filing fee. [Docs. 2, 6]. As such,
Plaintiff proceeds here in forma pauperis.
Plaintiff Mark Allen Wells is a North Carolina inmate. The
docket in this matter reflects that he is currently
incarcerated at Lanesboro Correctional Institution in
Polkton, North Carolina. Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 on January 11, 2019, naming North
Carolina Prisoner Legal Services (“NCPLS”) as the
sole Defendant. Citing the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendments, Plaintiff alleges that his due process right and
his right to access to the courts have been violated because
he is being denied access to a law library and “any
help from N.C. P.L.S. even though they were put in place to
replace the law library.” [Doc. 1 at 4]. Plaintiff
states that he has been injured because “he has no way
of litigating his” “non-frivolous lawsuit.”
[Id. at 6]. Plaintiff does not, however, provide any
information or details regarding this “non-frivolous
lawsuit.” [See id.].
relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages,
declaratory relief, as well as preliminary and permanent
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must
review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to
dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or
malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In its frivolity
review, this Court must determine whether the Complaint
raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is founded
upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as fantastic
or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989).
Court will dismiss this action because Plaintiff fails to
state a claim for a due process or any other constitutional
violation against Defendant. NCPLS is a non-profit, legal
services program that provides limited civil representation
to North Carolina inmates. See Smith v. Bounds, 657
F.Supp. 1327, 1328 n.1 (E.D. N.C. 1986),
aff’d, 813 F.2d 1299 (4th Cir. 1987).
Attorneys with NCPLS are at liberty to use their professional
judgment to determine whether to accept representation in a
case. The Supreme Court stated in Bounds v. Smith,
430 U.S. 817 (1977), that prisoners must have meaningful
access to the courts. The “meaningful access”
referred to in Bounds does not, however, entitle a
plaintiff to total or unlimited access. See High v.
Hamden, No. 03-7832 (E.D. N.C. Dec. 2, 2003),
aff’d, 88 Fed.Appx. 604 (4th Cir. Feb. 23,
2004); Moore v. Gray, No. 5:04-CT-918-FL, 2005 WL
3448047, at *1 (E.D. N.C. Jan. 26, 2005),
aff’d, 133 Fed.App’x 913 (4th Cir. 2005)
to succeed on a denial of access to courts claim, the inmate
must “demonstrate that the alleged shortcomings in the
[prison] library or legal assistance program hindered his
efforts to pursue a legal claim.” Lewis v.
Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). For example, meaningful
access to courts is denied when an inmate is not permitted to
prepare a petition or complaint. See Wrenn v.
Freeman, 894 F.Supp. 244, 248 (E.D. N.C. 1995) (citing
Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 576 (1974)).
Plaintiff’s own filings in this Court demonstrate that,
notwithstanding the lack of access to a law library and the
lack of assistance from NCPLS, Plaintiff was still able to
draft and file the Complaint in this case, successfully
obtain in forma pauperis status, and move for the appointment
of counsel. Thus, Plaintiff has not been denied meaningful
access to the courts.
reasons stated herein, Plaintiff’s action is dismissed
for failure to state a claim.
IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiff’s Complaint [Doc. 1] is
DISMISSED on initial screening for failure