United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Michael Morris has filed multiple versions
of his complaint in this lawsuit related to his claims that
various defendants violated his constitutional right to
access the courts. As Morris's first amended complaint
encapsulated the clearest version of the facts comprising his
claims, the court construed it as the operative pleading for
purposes of screening. Accordingly, on January 9, 2017, the
court granted Morris leave to proceed on an access to courts
claim against defendants Tammy Dickman and Diane Fremgen and
dismissed defendant David Rice.
response, Morris filed a motion on February 1, 2017, seeking
dismissal of all of his amended complaints and requesting to
file yet another amended complaint. (Dkt. #44.) The next day,
defendants Dickman and Fremgen filed a joint motion to
dismiss all versions of plaintiff's complaint (dkt. #46).
Since then, Morris has filed opposition materials, as well as
numerous other motions, which the court has reviewed to learn
more about the contours of his claims. Having considered all
of the parties' filings, the court will now grant
defendants' motion to dismiss, deny Morris's motions
and direct entry of final judgment.
all relevant times, Morris was incarcerated at the Wisconsin
Secure Program Facility (“WSPF”). The defendants
are Tammy Dickman, an employee in WSPF's business office,
and Diane Fremgen, an employee with the Clerk of Court for
the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
of 1999, Morris was convicted of two counts of first-degree
sexual assault of a child and two counts of incest with a
child. State of Wisconsin v. Morris, Case No.
1998CF0027 (Waushara Cty. Cir. Ct.). The Wisconsin Court of
Appeals affirmed these convictions in January of 2002.
State of Wisconsin v. Morris, App. No. 2000AP1530.
November 18, 2013, Morris filed a petition for a writ of
mandamus. Morris v. Dutcher, Case No. 2013AP2544-W.
Even though Waushara County Circuit Court Judge Guy Dutcher
was named as the respondent, it was apparent that Morris
intended to proceed against Fremgen and Wisconsin Chief
Deputy Clerk Christopher Paulson. In his petition, Morris
claimed that Fremgen and other individuals excluded motions,
documents and letters from his 2000 state court criminal
file. He also claimed that Paulsen was unable to find certain
letters from Morris's trial attorney, which Morris
believes were wrongfully removed. Morris further asserted
that Fremgen and others would not permit him to file
documents in his case. Morris next claimed that he submitted
documents in 2009 in support of his appeal in another matter,
and Paulson added them to his file, but then told him that
the court would not take action with respect to it because
his petition had been denied more than a year before. Morris
argues that the absence of these documents denied him due
process during his criminal proceeding, in particular because
the excluded filings provided proof that the state's
filing the petition, Morris received a notice directing him
to either file his indigency application or pay the $195.00
filing fee within ten days. Morris alleges that he attempted
to send his indigency application on November 27, 2013, but
defendant Dickman, then working in WSPF's business
office, did not send it out at that time. As of that day,
however, Morris was still incarcerated at the New Lisbon
Correctional Institution; he was not incarcerated at WSPF
until December 20, 2013. See
there is no dispute that Morris's indigency application
was sent on December 5, 2013. Morris further claims
that he sent a letter to appellate clerk Fremgen, explaining
the delay and asking that it be excused. Morris then followed
up on his petition for supervisory writ by filing a 50-page
motion for discovery and 200 pages of exhibits, in which he
purported to challenge his underlying criminal convictions
and requested discovery and an in camera inspection.
Morris received no response to his petition, he filed a
second petition on April 22, 2014. Morris v. Fremgen
& Paulsen, Case No. 2014AP0892-W. He also filed a
motion for miscellaneous relief on April 29. The court
treated this latter filing as a motion for voluntary
dismissal, and closed the appeal on June 13, 2014, and Morris
took no further action with respect to this petition.
April 30, 2014, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals also denied
Morris's petition for writ of mandamus. Morris v.
Dutcher, Case No. 2013AP2544, slip op. In doing so, the
court explained to Morris that mandamus is an extraordinary
legal remedy only available in limited circumstances where a
public official “has clearly violated a plain legal
duty and the party seeking relief has acted promptly and
faces grave hardship or irreparable harm for which there is
no other adequate remedy at law.” Id. at 2.
The court of appeals noted that Morris's submissions were
unclear, referencing both his appeal and other petitions, and
that he failed to show entitlement to relief. The court
further noted that Morris conceded failing to exhaust his
administrative remedies, indicating that he had an adequate
remedy at law. Id.
response to the April 30 order in Case No. 2013AP2544, Morris
filed several, additional motions in May of 2014, seeking
clarification on and relief from the Wisconsin Supreme Court
on the court of appeals decision in Case No. 2013AP2544.
Among other things, Morris asked that the court of appeals be
compelled to determine what happened to the documents that
were the subject of his rejected petition. In his view,
Fremgen specifically mislabeled one of his filings as a
“Petition for Review.”
10 2014, Morris requested dismissal of his other petitions
and submitted yet another petition, which was entered in Case
No. 2013AP2544 as another filing in that matter. Later that
same month, Morris wrote Fremgen a few times to ask if she
received this second writ and petition. He followed up by
writing to the court of appeals to request his money back for
the partial filing fee on his later-dismissed petition, but
that request was denied. On August 4, 2014, the Wisconsin
Supreme Court denied all of Morris's pending motions in
Case No. 2013AP2544 as well. On August 8, 2014, Morris then
filed an internal complaint about defendant Dickman, claiming
again that she failed to mail his indigency paperwork back in
December of 2014.
on September 3, 2014, Morris wrote a letter to Justice
Shirley Abrahamson of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Fremgen
responded to this letter on September 12, 2014. (Dkt. #47-2.)
In it, Fremgen acknowledged Morris's complaint that the
court was not receiving his filings, but assured him that the
court of appeals reviewed all of his filings in issuing the
April 30, 2014, order. She further informed him that any
subsequent filings had been construed as a petition for
review and were submitted to the Wisconsin ...