Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hall v. Thomas

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

July 21, 2018

JASON J. HALL, #252 285, Plaintiff,


          Susan Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge


         In an order of limited remand entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on February 27, 2018, this court was directed to make a determination resolving the factual question of when Plaintiff Jason Hall delivered to prison authorities for mailing his notice of appeal from the District Court's September 12, 2017, judgment granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Hall v. Thomas, et al., Court of Appeals No. 17-14831-K. The Honorable Harold Albritton, Senior United States District Judge, referred this matter to the undersigned for a Report and Recommendation, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636, containing proposed findings of fact on the issue presented by the Eleventh Circuit's limited remand. Doc. 56. In accordance with the court's orders of March 1, 2018, and April 23, 2018, Defendants filed supplemental evidentiary material to assist in resolving this factual question. See Docs. 57, 62.

         Plaintiff Hall filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging violations of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights stemming from alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton, Alabama. On July 7, 2017, the undersigned recommended that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted. Doc. 40. On September 12, 2017, the District Judge adopted the undersigned's Report and Recommendation, overruled Hall's objections, and ordered that summary judgment be granted in favor of Defendants. Doc. 46. On the same day, the court entered a final judgment for Defendants. Doc. 47.

         On October 27, 2017, the court received and file-stamped a typewritten notice of appeal from Hall dated October 10, 2017. Doc. 48. The envelope containing Hall's notice of appeal was postmarked on October 26, 2017. Id. at 3. A “proof of service” attached to Hall's notice of appeal, signed under penalty of perjury, states that Hall mailed a copy of the appeal notice to Defendants' counsel by placing the envelope containing the notice “inside the box marked legal mail outside the Shift Command Office at the Bullock Correctional Facility and using the ‘free legal mail system' on the 10th day of October, 2017.” Id. at 2 (emphasis in original).

         As explained above, the Eleventh Circuit remanded this matter with the direction to this court to make a factual determination regarding when Hall delivered his notice of appeal to prison authorities for mailing to the Clerk of this Court. The appellate court's order on remand states that

under 28 U.S.C. § 1746, [Hall] declared that he delivered the [notice of appeal] to prison authorities for mailing to defendant's counsel, and did not refer to the clerk of the district court. And although the envelope filed with the notice of appeal has the district court's address, a stamp, and a postmark for October 26, 2017, the declaration stated that Hall was using the prison's free legal mail system (presumably as opposed to pre-paying for postage) and that he was mailing the filing on October l0. Thus, it is unclear on this record whether Hall delivered the filing for mailing to the district court on October 10 and, therefore, filed his notice of appeal on that date. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(c)(1)(A)(i).

Doc. 55 at 2.

         On remand, the court entered an order on March 1, 2018, directing Defendants to file supplemental evidence, including affidavits, regarding the free legal mail system at Bullock and the date on which Hall delivered his notice of appeal to prison officials for mailing or placed it in the prison mail system. Doc. 57. Defendants complied with the March 1 order. After review of the information submitted, the court directed the filing of additional evidence, including affidavits and applicable documents, pertaining to inmates' use of the regular outgoing mail system, legal or otherwise. Doc. 62. The court's orders directing the filing of the supplemental evidentiary material gave Hall the opportunity to respond to those submissions. See Docs. 57, 62. Hall has filed nothing in response.


         A. Mail Procedure

         The evidentiary submissions filed by Defendants include an affidavit from Olivia Hicks, the Administrative Support Assistant I/Mail Clerk at Bullock, and a copy of the legal mail log maintained at Bullock for October 2017. Hicks testifies that inmates at Bullock may deposit outgoing mail in one of two boxes. One mailbox is marked “legal mail” and one is marked “Reg. Mail.” Inmates may receive two free stamps a month for mailing legal mail. The legal mail box is in front of the Shift Commander's office. Inmates who seek to use the “free mail system” must place their legal mail in the legal mailbox. Inmates who affix their own postage to legal mail may deposit such mail either in the legal mailbox or the regular mailbox. Docs. 61-1, 63-1.

         Hicks indicates that “[a]t the time the Plaintiff sent his notice of appeal, mail in the ‘Reg. Mail' box was picked up daily, sorted, and placed in the U.S. Mail.” Doc. 63-1. Mail placed in the legal mailbox, stamped or unstamped, is picked up every Thursday morning by a correctional officer who delivers the contents to the mailroom. When unstamped legal mail is sorted at the mailroom, the correspondence is listed on the institutional legal log. The legal log includes the name and institutional number of the inmate sending the correspondence, the name and address to which the correspondence is sent, the number of stamps used, and the date the stamps were issued and the correspondence was mailed. Legal mail which goes through this process is mailed out from the institution every Tuesday. Hicks indicates that an item of legal mail deposited in the legal mailbox which already has postage affixed is placed in the U.S. Mail on the same day it reaches her office, as such mail is not weighed, stamped, or checked for sufficient postage. Docs. 61-1, 63-1.

         The legal mail log maintained at Bullock during the month of October 2017 reflects that Hall submitted only one piece of un-stamped legal mail during that month. The log shows that on Tuesday, October 31, 2017, Hall was provided one free stamp for legal mail; the mail was addressed to Defendants' counsel at the legal division of the Alabama Department of Corrections in Montgomery, Alabama. Hicks explains that because legal mail is collected from the legal mailbox on the Thursday prior to its being mailed the following Tuesday, Hall would have had to place his unstamped legal mail addressed to ADOC counsel in the legal mailbox between Friday, October 20, 2107, and Thursday, October 26, 2017. Doc. 61-1. Because the log reflects that Hall did not receive a free stamp for the only piece of un-stamped legal mail that he submitted in October until October 31, 2017, and Hicks' ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.