United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
PETER J. LONG, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL L. HAMMER, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
STEPHEN L. CROCKER Magistrate Judge.
civil lawsuit, pro se plaintiff Peter J. Long claims
that defendant Michael Hammer, the librarian at Prairie Du
Chien Correctional Institution, retaliated against him in
violation of his First Amendment rights, and that defendants
Ronald Brewer, Chad Cline, Lisa Pettera, Mandy Mathson and
Tim Haines failed to intervene to prevent or stop the
retaliation from occurring. Defendants have filed a motion
for summary judgment (dkt. 25) that is ripe for decision. I
am granting defendants' motion for the reasons stated
times relevant to this case, Peter Long was incarcerated at
Prairie Du Chien Correctional Institution
(“PDCI”), where all defendants are employed.
Defendant Michael Hammer is the staff librarian; Ronald
Brewer is the former education director; Chad Cline is the
current education director; Lisa Pettera is the program
supervisor; Mandy Mathson is an inmate complaint examiner;
and Tim Haines is the warden.
Long Asks Hammer to Print Letters to Newspapers
April 2014, Long was defending a civil foreclosure action in
state court concerning an apartment building he owned. In
that case, Long filed counterclaims against Acquired Capital
II, L.P. for breach of good faith and fair dealing, consumer
protection laws, federal banking laws and other state laws.
Long wished to send press releases to several newspapers
regarding the lawsuit because he believed that his claims
exposed unlawful actions of U.S. Bank National Association
that would be of public interest. Long also believed that the
negative publicity generated by his press release would
pressure Acquired Capital to settle with him.
composed a letter regarding his counterclaims that he
intended to send to the legal news departments of The Wall
Street Journal, Milwaukee Sentinel Inc., The Post-Crescent,
Capitol Newspapers, USA Today and Gannet Co. Inc. In his
letter, Long described his background, education and history
of arrests, as well as the foreclosure action and his
counterclaims. In his letters Long asked the editors to
publish articles regarding U.S. Bank National
Association's treatment of its customers.
2, 2014, Long asked defendant Hammer to use the library
printer to print six copies of Long's letter for Long to
mail to the six news organizations. Hammer refused on the
basis that PDCI policies limited use of the prison computers
to create and print “legal” documents.
Hammer's view was that even though Long's letter was
related to his state court lawsuit, letters to news
organizations were not “legal” in nature, they
were “personal.” Long responded by telling Hammer
that if he refused to print copies of the letters, then Long
would file an inmate complaint against him.
same day (May 2, 2014), Long wrote to Education Director
Brewer regarding Hammer's refusal to print Long's
letters to the newspapers. Brewer responded to Long that
PDCI's definition of legal correspondence includes
letters to judges, courts and attorneys, but not to other
non-legal sources, such as news organizations. Thus, Long was
free to contact such organizations via handwritten letters,
but not by using the institution's computer system.
Brewer told Long that PDCI's policy was consistent with
the policies of other correctional institutions, in that
institution computers were not to be used for personal
issues. Finally, Brewer told Long that if he disagreed with
these policies, then he could file an inmate complaint.
9, 2014, Long submitted an inmate complaint challenging
Hammer's refusal to print the letters. After Institution
Complaint Examiner Mathson discussed Long's complaint
with both Brewer and Long, Mathson dismissed the complaint,
agreeing with Hammer and Brewer that the letters were not
“legal” documents that could be printed from
state computers. Warden Haines affirmed dismissal of
also sent two letters to Warden Haines' office
complaining about Hammer's refusal to print the letters.
Haines forwarded the letters to Program Supervisor Pettera
for response. Pettera responded to Long's letters on May
19, 2014, agreeing with Brewer that Long's letters did
not qualify as legal documents.
May 27, 2014 Yelling Incident
27, 2014, Long was in the library during Period 9. At the end
of the period, Hammer yelled at Long in a “very
disrespectful and unprofessional manner.” (Long does
not report specifically what Hammer yelled, but
apparently it had something to do with inmates not being
prepared to exit the library at the end of the period.)
same day, Long sent Brewer an interview/information request
stating, “I must talk to you asap. Mr. Hammer lost
control and began yelling at me today (5-27-14) at the end of
Period 9 very disrespectfully. I have many witnesses, check
the cameras.” Brewer contacted Hammer regarding
Long's letter and directed Hammer to be sure that he used
an appropriate tone and volume when talking to inmates.
Brewer then wrote to Long to report that Brewer had
“met with Mr. Hammer and discussed his voice tone and
loudness when working with all inmates. The situation should
also submitted an interview/information request to Warden
Haines regarding Hammer's yelling, stating that Hammer
had “lost control and became irate” and that he
believed this was in retaliation for the offender complaint
that Long had filed against Hammer the week before. On May
29, Haines responded, stating that Brewer had been contacted
about the matter and had spoken with Hammer about it. Warden
Haines advised Long that if he should have the same
experience again, to contact Brewer so he would be able to
deal with the situation in a timely and appropriate manner.
Long submitted an offender complaint about the incident.
Mathson investigated Long's complaint and contacted
Brewer. Because Long already had contacted Brewer and Haines
regarding the incident, Mathson found there was no need to
conduct a parallel investigation in the ICRS. On June 3,
2014, Mathson recommended that the complaint be dismissed,
with an informational copy sent to Brewer. Haines agreed with
Mathson's recommendation and dismissed the complaint on
June 13, 2014. Long appealed, but the correctional complaint
examiner and the Secretary's designee affirmed dismissal.
Denial of Law Library Use ...