United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
JONATHAN W. STEPHENSON, Plaintiff,
DEBBIE INGLIS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Trauger United States District Judge
Stephenson is a death row inmate at the Riverbend Maximum
Security Institution in Nashville. He has filed pro
se a prisoner complaint (Doc. No. 1) under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and an application (Doc. No. 2) to proceed in
appears from the application that the plaintiff lacks
sufficient financial resources from which to pay the fee
required to file the complaint. Therefore, the application is
GRANTED. The Clerk will file the complaint
in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). However, process
shall NOT issue at this time.
plaintiff is hereby ASSESSED the civil
filing fee of $350.00. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(b)(1)(A) and (B), the custodian of the plaintiff's
inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides
is directed to submit to the Clerk of Court, as an initial
partial payment, whichever is greater of:
(a) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly deposits to
the plaintiff's inmate trust account;
(b) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly balance in
the plaintiff's inmate trust account for the prior six
the custodian shall submit twenty percent (20%) of the
plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited
to the plaintiff's trust account for the preceding
month), but only when such monthly income exceeds ten dollars
($10.00), until the full filing fee of three hundred fifty
dollars ($350.00) as authorized under 28 U.S.C. §
1914(a) has been paid to the Clerk of Court. 28 U.S.C. §
plaintiff brings this action against Debbie Inglis, General
Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Correction; Andrew
Brown, an Internal Affairs Officer at Riverbend; Kevin
O'Neal, an electronics technician at
Riverbend; and Cpl. Brandi McClure, the Grievance
Chairperson at Riverbend; seeking declaratory, injunctive and
September, 2014, the plaintiff initiated a habeas corpus
action in the Eastern District of Tennessee in an attempt to
obtain a stay of execution. Jonathan Stephenson v. Bruce
Westbrooks, Warden, No. 3:14-cv-0414 (E.D.
Tenn.)(Reeves, Pamela, J., presiding). During the course
of this litigation, the court entered an order directing the
respondent “to permit Petitioner to possess and use a
computer with the appropriate word processing and printing
capabilities, as well as storage devices, for the purpose of
communicating with and assisting his counsel in his federal
habeas proceedings.” Id. at Doc. No. 17.
April 17, 2017, plaintiff's lap top computer authorized
by this court order “crashed.” Doc. No. 1 at 2.
It was sent to MIS for a “reboot”. Id.
The lap top, however, has not been returned to the plaintiff.
When MIS discovered two unauthorized programs on the lap top,
it was given to Officer Brown for further
investigation. Id. at 3. The plaintiff was told
that the lap top “was being held by Downtown.”
Id. at 12.
3, 2017, the plaintiff filed a grievance in an effort to have
the lap top returned to him. Id. at 21. In response
to the grievance, Ms. Inglis submitted the following
statement: “MIS found a number of unauthorized items on
the lap top. These items have been discussed with Mr.
Stephenson's attorney and we are now awaiting a response
from him with any explanation. The lap top will be held
pending a resolution.” Id. at 23. A hearing
was held to address the grievance where the plaintiff was
informed that he “would have to go back to court in
order to get the computer back.” Id. at 13.
plaintiff alleges that the lap top was taken in violation of
his right to due process. Id. at 4. He claims that,
for no apparent reason, the defendants “decided to
disobey a valid Federal Court Order.” Id. The
plaintiff states that the failure to return the lap top
caused him to miss a court deadline and that the defendants
“have acted in concert with one another to
deliberately, knowingly, intentionally, maliciously,
spitefully and in a cruel manner to deprive the Plaintiff of
his ability to fight his Capitol [sic] Case and redress
issues to a Federal Court.” Id. at 4-5.
for the instant case is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).
That provision requires that this action be brought only in
(1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all
defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial district
in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property
that is the subject of the action is situated, or (3) a
judicial district in which the defendants are subject to
personal jurisdiction at the time that the action is
commenced, if there is no district in which the action may
otherwise be brought.
defendants to the instant action reside in this judicial
district. However, the plaintiffs claim alleges that they
violated an outstanding court order that was entered by the
District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in a
case that remains open there. The plaintiff has no
independent legal right to possess a lap top computer in
prison. White-Bey v. Griggs, 2002 WL 1787976 at 2
(6thCir. Aug. 1, 2002)(plaintiff s grievances
about being required to use a typewriter rather than a
computer were frivolous); see also Lehn v. Hartwig,
2001 WL 741717 at 2 (7th Cir. June 27,
2001)(“If prisoners have no right to a typewriter, they
certainly do not have one to a computer”); Nicholas
v. Mantello, 1996 WL 671276 at 1 (2d Cir. Oct. 20,
1996)(constitutional right of access to the courts does not
include the right to use computers). And this Court is not