United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE.
court granted pro se plaintiff Michael Morris leave
to proceed on an access to courts claim against all of the
named defendants. On September 27, 2017, however, the court
granted defendants' motion to dismiss. (Dkt. #85.) Since
that date, Morris has filed 25 motions, some asking the court
to reconsider dismissing his claims, and the remainder
dealing with his attempts to appeal that judgment. For the
reasons that follow, the court sees no basis to reconsider
its original decision on the merits.
Motions to alter or amend (dkts. ##87, 88, 89, 120, 124, 126,
Morris's motions seek clarification that the court
received exhibits 80-130 or to alter and amend other
exhibits, apparently out of concern that the court would
resolve his motion for reconsideration without receiving all
of the exhibits filed with his motion to alter or amend.
(Dkts. ##88, 89.) These motions will be granted as follows:
(1) the court has considered Morris's properly-filed
motions for reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e), and (2) the court has considered all of the
exhibits to his motion to alter or amend, which included
several hundred pages. (See dkts. ##87-1, 87-2,
Morris's additional motions to alter or amend the
judgment, his arguments are hard to follow, but read
generously, he appears to contest the following:
• The court's dismissal of defendant Rice, an
assistant attorney general for the State of Wisconsin,
because he had no duty to ensure that Morris's filings
challenging his criminal conviction were properly filed.
• The court's dismissal of defendant Dickman, an
employee of the business office at the Wisconsin Secure
Program Facility, because she had no involvement in handling
Morris's indigency materials in support of his state
court petitions, Morris having not yet been incarcerated at
WSPF, and regardless, the state courts actually reviewed
Morris's filings in his petitions and determined that he
was not entitled to relief on the merits.
• The court's dismissal of defendant Fremgen, a
court clerk with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, who
allegedly mislabeled some of his filings, because that court
also ultimately addressed his petitions on the merits after
receiving his numerous filings.
apparent support of his motions challenging these rulings,
Morris recounts the timeline of events surrounding his
petitions for relief in the Wisconsin courts, arguing that
Dickman and Fremgen repeatedly ignored his communications
about his filings, and as a result, the state courts
incorrectly interpreted the intent of those filings. As
Morris casts it, he is challenging the fact that these
defendants stopped him from filing documents that would shed
light on the improper investigation leading to his criminal
conviction. Morris attaches numerous exhibits related to
those proceedings, but none appear to support a finding that
the named defendants here could be held liable on an access
to courts claim. Rather, these exhibits are a collection of
actual filings in the state proceedings, including the
Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision denying him a petition
for writ of mandamus, his indigency submissions, his various
fund disbursement requests that were later authorized by
Dickman, as well as numerous documents that appear to be part
of his criminal case. (See dkts. ##87-1, 87-2,
121-2.) While Morris maintains that defendants in suit
somehow thwarted his ability to pursue his state court
petitions, the facts as pleaded and his later
submissions confirm that the Wisconsin courts considered his
many filings and concluded that Morris had not met the
extraordinary burden of establishing that his convictions
were not based on evidence. Accordingly, no reasonable trier
of fact could find any alleged delay in filing by defendants
Dickman and Fremgen (or failures to catch these delays by
defendant Rice) caused any injury to Morris.
Motions regarding appeal (dkts. ##98, 99, 100, 106, 109, 113,
114, 117, 119, 128, 129, 135, 140, 142, 143, 144,
a series of confusing filings, Morris appears to seek this
court's reconsideration of its decision on the merits,
while proceeding with his appeal of that decision before the
Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Understandably,
this has created some confusion in the clerk's office of
each court, as well as apparently caused him to file an
increasing flurry of motions. In an effort to put an end to
this onslaught, the court will describe his motions in
general terms, while denying the majority of his motions and
providing Morris specific instructions on how to proceed if
he wishes to pursue his appeal.
October 5 and 6 of 2017, after Morris filed his first motion
to alter or amend the judgment, he filed two notices of
appeal (dkts. ##90, 95), and the Seventh Circuit assigned
each notice an appeal number, 17-3053 and 17-3074.
Afterwards, Morris filed a motion to correct the record (dkt.
#99), indicating that he wished to pursue only one appeal and
requesting the dismissal of Case No. 17-3074. Because Morris
indicated that his first notice of appeal (which was assigned
Case No. 17-3053) was filed in error, the Seventh Circuit
chose to dismiss that one instead. Morris v.
Dickman, Case No. 17-3053, dkt. #4, (7th Cir. Oct. 11,
2017). Adding to the confusion, Morris then filed a
third notice of appeal on October 16, 2017, which he
labeled “Amended Notice of Appeal” and which the
Seventh Circuit assigned Case No. 17-3128. Accordingly, at
this point Morris appears to still have two open appeals
challenging the court's September 26, 2017, judgment:
Case Nos. 17-3074 and 17-3128.
Seventh Circuit subsequently suspended all proceedings in
either appeal until this court resolves Morris's pending
motions to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.
See Morris v. Dickman, Case No. 17-3074, dkt. #7
(7th Cir. Oct. 26, 2017); Morris v. Dickman, Case
No. 17-3128, dkt. #1 (7th Cir. Oct. 16, 2017). While the
court resolves those motions in this opinion, this is where
Morris's filings become really confusing.
early October, Morris had filed two, previous motions for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal (dkts.
##98, 100), but then on October 13, 2017, Morris filed a
motion to “destroy” those motions (dkt. #106).
Three days later, on October 16, 2017, Morris filed his
“Amended Notice of Appeal, ” which became Case
No. 17-3128, and another motion to proceed in
forma pauperis on appeal (dkt. #109). Nevertheless,
throughout the rest of October, Morris filed numerous motions
that fall into three categories: (1) requests for
clarification regarding which case number he should proceed
under on appeal (dkts. ##113, 117); (2) requests to use this
court's e-filing program to ...