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Leiser v. Canziani

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

February 27, 2019

MARIO CANZIANI, et al., Defendants.



         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, pro se plaintiff Jeffrey Leiser has brought First Amendment free speech and retaliation claims against employees of Stanley Correctional Institution (Stanley). Leiser challenges a 2016 conduct report in which he was found guilty of receiving money in exchange for providing legal services to other prisoners. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 29.) For the reasons set forth below, I am granting defendants' motion, and closing this case.

         As an initial matter, Leiser seeks an order striking defendants' response to his proposed findings of fact, in which they label most of Leiser's proposed facts “immaterial.” (Dkt. 44.) Leiser asks that the court deem these proposed facts to be undisputed. It's six of one, half-dozen of the other: many of Leiser's proposed facts are immaterial to his remaining claims in this lawsuit; therefore, it doesn't matter whether I deem them undisputed because it doesn't change anything. For example, several of Leiser's proposed facts relate to his belief that the challenged conduct report violated his due process rights; these facts are immaterial because I did not allow Leiser to proceed on a due process claim. (See Jan. 30, 2018, Order (dkt. 13) at 12-14.) Therefore, I have not included these facts in the court's findings of fact. On the flip side, I have deemed undisputed and have included some of Leiser's proposed facts related to his other claims; for the most part, these are facts that the defendants did not dispute.


         I. Parties

         Leiser currently is incarcerated at the Redgranite Correctional Institution, but the events underlying his claims took place when he was incarcerated at Stanley Correctional Institution (Stanley). Defendants, all Stanley employees, are Mario Canziani, the deputy warden; Patrick J. Lynch, a unit supervisor; and Bradley Lundmark, a supervising officer.

         II. Investigation into Leiser's Activities and his TLU Placement

         On March 16, 2016, Stanley mailroom staff member Michelle Moore, who is not a defendant in this lawsuit, completed an incident report concerning an outgoing letter found from a former Stanley prisoner, Robby Lillyblad, and addressed to non-prisoner Denise Gray. (Def. Ex. 1000 (dkt. 32-2).) Moore reported that, in the letter, Lillyblad asked Gray to send money to Leiser, whom Lillyblad had hired to do legal work. Lillyblad wrote:

Listen the reason why I'm writing you is to ask for your help. When I got here at Stanley I was looking into trying to get my case looked at by a lawyer but I could not really afford one being as I'm locked up with no source of income. So I asked around and found out that one of the guys on my housing unit use[d] to be a lawyer before he got locked up.
His name is Jeff and I was introduced to him by my buddy John Kuslits. John told me that Jeff is a real good lawyer. He told me that he's had Jeff doing legal work for him for a couple of years now and John told me the best way to pay Jeff for his legal work is to have a relative or someone I know on the outside either send Jeff a[n] order from a vendor we're allowed to order clothes and shoes from or I can have someone send Jeff a money order.
John said that he has his sister Ursula order Jeff clothes and shoes from vendors sometimes and other time[s] he has her send Jeff money orders using someone else's name. So that way the prison staff won't know what there [sic] doing.
* * *
I told Jeff I can't pay him by getting him stuff from vendors, so I've been giving him canteen a little at a time to pay off the amount of money we agreed on as payment for his legal services. Which we agreed on $500 for his fee. So far I've gave [sic] him $100 in canteen. For that price he said he can get those past OWI's overturned. Which means I won't have them on my record and can have a fresh start.
What I need you to do for me is send Jeff $20 until I can get a job and get on my feet then I will send him the rest of what I owe him after I get my 1st check. That will leave me owing him $380.
Given my past track record of being irresponsible, I know you may be a little hesitant about helping me out with what I'm asking you, but please believe me when I tell you that I've checked everything out with this guy Jeff by asking around about him and everyone says he's on the up and up. Do you remember a guy named Dan Worzella who use to go to school with Brad? Well anyway he's in here and he's even got Jeff doing all his legal work for him. Dan told me he's paid Jeff a couple grand so far and he's happy with the work Jeff's done for him.
So I'd really appreciate it if you'd send out a $20 dollar money order to Jeff as soon as possible ok. . . . Till then take care and thanks for helping me out.
* * *
Send the money order to Jeffrey Leiser #330229 Stanley Correctional Institution 100 Corrections Dr. Stanley, WI 54768[.]
P.S. - you might get this letter a little later after I've been released. I asked my buddy on the unit to drop it in the mail on the day I was releases so I hope he didn't forget to do it. He's an old guy.

(Def. Ex. 1000 (dkt. 32-1.)

         Lynch was directed to investigate Lillyblad's statements about Leiser's for-pay legal assistance.

         On March 25, 2016, Lynch ordered an officer to search Leiser's cell and remove all legal materials. When Leiser confronted Lynch and asked him why Lynch was taking away his legal materials, Lynch responded “because I can.” When Leiser pressed him on the issue, Lynch refused to answer and sent Leiser to segregation in the temporary lockup unit (TLU).[2]

         Lynch's investigation of Leiser included these steps: reviewing Leiser's mail; interviewing Leiser; reviewing Leiser's inmate account; reviewing visitor logs; and making notes of his findings. Among Leiser's personal legal documents, Lynch discovered other prisoners' legal documents related to pending litigation. In particular, Leiser had legal documents belonging to inmates Daniel Worzalla and Coleon Gallion, as well as a letter from Maurice Corbine asking for additional assistance with his legal matter, and a packet of letters about Gallion's legal defense sent to Leiser by a nonprisoner named Talisha Paige.

         When Lynch reviewed Leiser's inmate account record, he found several payments from the families and friends of Leiser's fellow inmates: Leiser received a $100 payment from Worzalla's father on February 8, 2016, and payments of $175 and $150 from Talisha Paige, who visits Coleon Gallion. Lynch interviewed Leiser, who acknowledged that he helped other inmates with their cases but insisted that he did not charge money. Later, when Leiser was in TLU, he admitted to Lynch that he was working for Corbine and had received $20 from Denise Gray. According to Leiser, he told Lynch that he received money from Paige and Gallion as gifts.

         III. Conduct Report #2802798, ...

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