United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ORDER ON PLANITIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED WITHOUT
PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE AND SCREENING THE
JOSEPH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Edith Mae May, who is confined at Taycheedah Correctional
Institution and who is representing herself, filed a
complaint against defendants alleging their policies for
providing office supplies for indigent prisoners are illegal.
Not all parties have had the opportunity to fully consent to
magistrate judge jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
Nonetheless, I have jurisdiction to screen the complaint
under the Wisconsin Department of Justice's limited
consent to the exercise of magistrate judge jurisdiction as
set forth in the Memorandum of Understanding between the
Wisconsin Department of Justice and this court.
also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and
preliminary injunction asking the court to enjoin defendants
from indirectly making her pay for office supplies.
Additionally, she has also filed two motions for extension of
deadlines. I will address each in turn.
Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee
and Motions for Extension of Deadlines
Prison Litigation Reform Act gives courts discretion to allow
prisoners to proceed with their lawsuits without prepaying
the $350 filing fee, as long as they comply with certain
requirements. 28 U.S.C. § 1915. One of those
requirements is that the prisoner pay an initial partial
August 27, 2019, I ordered May to pay an initial partial
filing fee of $1.76 by September 18, 2019. On October 2,
2019, May still had not paid the initial partial filing fee,
so I ordered her to either explain why she was not able to
pay the fee or pay the fee by October 23, 2019. Instead of
paying the filing fee, she filed two motions for extensions
of deadlines. However, she did not explicitly ask for the
deadline to pay the initial partial filing fee be extended.
As such, I issued another order to show cause on November 18,
2019 and gave May until December 5, 2019 to pay the initial
partial filing fee. May paid the initial partial filing fee
December 9, 2019. Accordingly, I will grant May's motion.
She must pay the remainder of the filing fee over time in the
manner explained at the end of this order. I will also deny
May's motions for extensions of deadlines as moot because
there are no active deadlines in this case.
Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction
filed a temporary restraining order asking me to enjoin the
defendants from indirectly making her pay for office
supplies. ECF No. 4. She states that defendants, since 2016,
have been taking money out of her prisoner account for the
repayment of legal loans. She asserts that part of the money
for repayment of her legal loans is going towards paying for
office supplies like pens, paper, and stamps that she needs
for filing legal documents. She further states that such
supplies should be provided to her by the state at no cost
because she is indigent. She asserts that having to pay back
these legal loans leaves her no money for hygiene products
because she only makes between $0.01-$0.35 every two weeks.
She argues that because she is in essence paying for her
supplies, the defendants should be enjoined from taking money
for repayment of her legal loans out of her account and
should be ordered to reimburse her for all payments she has
made to date.
preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order is
“an extraordinary remedy” that a court may grant
only after a “clear showing that the plaintiff is
entitled to such relief.” Winter v. Natural Res.
Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7. 22 (2008). To make such a
showing, the plaintiff must show that 1) her underlying case
has some likelihood of success on the merits; 2) no adequate
remedy at law exists; and 3) she will suffer irreparable harm
without the injunction. Wood v. Buss, 496 F.3d 620,
622 (7th Cir. 2007). If the plaintiff makes that showing,
then the court must balance the harm to each party and to the
public interest caused by granting or denying the
injunction. Id. See also Korte v. Sebelius, 735 F.3d
654 (7th Cir. 2013); Cooper v. Salazar, 196 F.3d 809
813 (7th Cir. 1999).
not grant May the requested injunction. She has not shown
that her underlying case has some likelihood of success on
the merits. At best, being required to pay for office
supplies would be an access-to-courts claim under the Fifth
Amendment. While it “‘is indisputable that
indigent inmates must be provided at state expense with paper
and pen to draft legal documents . . .and with stamps to mail
them, ” Owens v. Evans, 878 F.3d 559, 564
(7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Bounds v. Smith,
430 U.S. 817, 824-25 (1977)), if an inmate alleges she was
denied these supplies, to prevail on an access-to-courts
claim, she “must also allege the prejudice [s]he
suffered as a result of the alleged denials.”
Stathas v. Smith, 2018 WL 6033493 at *2 (E.D. Wis.
Nov. 16, 2018) (citing Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d
965, 969-70 (7th Cir. 2006)). By denying the
inmate supplies, the defendants “must have done more
than merely inconvenienced [her]; they must have
‘caused a potentially meritorious claim to
fail.'” Id. (quoting Marshall,
445 F.3d at 969.) And the claim cannot be based “on
speculation that [s]he would suffer some unspecified future
harm, ” but must be based on “an actual or
imminent injury.” Marshall 445 F.3d at
her motion for temporary restraining order and her complaint
(discussed below), May fails to allege that she suffered any
prejudice as a result of being required to indirectly pay for
office supplies by paying back her legal loans. She does not
describe how this has impacted her ability to successfully
litigate her cases. At most, she alleges inconvenience and
she did sufficiently allege facts that demonstrate she would
have some likelihood of success on the merits, she does not
demonstrate that she would suffer irreparable harm without
the injunction. The apparent harm is that the defendants are
erroneously taking money from her account. This is not
irreparable because the remedy is to simply reimburse May the
expenses if the withdrawals are indeed erroneous. As such, I
will deny her motion for a temporary restraining order and