This history, well known in this District, makes it plain that long before Bounds v. Smith, supra, New Jersey recognized and undertook to discharge its constitutional obligations. The fact that it chose to do so by means of a system of public defenders and public advocates by no means implies that it has the further obligation to provide full libraries in every jail throughout the State. Bounds v. Smith, supra, makes clear that it has no such additional constitutional duty.
If the question were coming up for the first time and if this court were called upon to decide it, the experience it has over the decades would strongly persuade it to rule that the required legal assistance can be provided only through a system of professionally trained lawyers and staff, and would exclude as adequate the traditional law library.
In this court's view, access to the fullest law library anywhere is a useless and meaningless gesture in terms of the great mass of prisoners. The bulk and complexity have grown to such an extent that even experienced lawyers cannot function efficiently today without the support of special tools, such as the computer research systems of FLITE, JURIS, LEXIS and WESTLAW. To expect untrained laymen to work with entirely unfamiliar books, whose content they cannot understand, may be worthy of Lewis Carroll, but hardly satisfies the substance of the constitutional duty.
Access to full law libraries makes about as much sense as furnishing medical services through books like: "Brain Surgery Self-Taught", or "How to Remove Your Own Appendix", along with scalpels, drills, hemostats, sponges and sutures.
The issue is not new, however. The Supreme Court has ruled that the State's constitutional duty is to provide access to law books or access to trained lawyers. It does not require both. New Jersey had already chosen to provide lawyers, and in so doing it has discharged its duty.
Mr. Falzarano does not say it in words, but the facts and dates in his complaint make it obvious that he is freshly convicted and sentenced for some criminal offense. As an indigent, he has available to him for his direct appeals, and for any later federal habeas, the services of the N.J. Public Defender, and for other matters, those of the N.J. Public Advocate.
Having thus met its constitutional duty, New Jersey has no obligation to satisfy Mr. Falzarano's whim, if whim it be, to represent himself and provide him with a full library for that purpose.
The fact is, of course, that although not constitutionally obliged to do so, New Jersey does have substantial law libraries at its State prison, along with writ writers and other aids. This is an "extra", a bonus, whose use Mr. Falzarano may indulge in as soon as he is transferred from Essex County Jail to a state prison. The current overcrowding emergency merely means that he will have to wait his turn. He has no constitutional right to be first in line, and to be there today. The irrationality of the claim is reminiscent of the reply of Cyrano de Bergerac, implored by Christian after utter failure in his balcony exchange with Roxanne, to teach him to be eloquent, now, this moment. Cyrano replied: "How the devil am I to teach you now, this moment?" He pushed Christian into the shadows, and like a skilled attorney performed the famous balcony scene himself. Christian then reaped Roxanne's kiss as the reward for Cyrano's performance, outstandingly performed first by Walter Hampden and then by Jose Ferrer. This is what the subject is about.
The refusal to notarize except on conditions unacceptable to Mr. Falzarano is not a constitutional claim. By N.J. Court Rule 1:4-4 for the New Jersey courts, and by 28 U.S.C. § 1746 for the federal courts, no notary is needed for affidavits. A simple certification under penalty of perjury is sufficient. Both the writ writers and the public defenders know this. If he had the books, Mr. Falzarano would not know how or where to look up this primitive law.
The denial of certified mail, return receipt requested, at State expense also falls far short of a constitutional issue. Ordinary mail is sufficient for access to the courts. If, for reasons of his own, a prisoner wants that form of mailing as a mode of proof, the cost is not so high as to put it beyond the reach of an indigent.
Refusal to allow work assignments.
Falzarano says that on the day after he went to jail he applied for work. He was told that since he was a State prisoner, no work could be assigned to him. This same exchange occurred at least once more.
This claim raises no federal claim under § 1983. Work assignments to State prisoners are made at State institutions, not at county jails where a State prisoner is in transit. This issue arises due to the emergency conditions outlined above, and since the State is plainly taking all feasible steps to meet the unexpected emergency, this court sees no basis for considering the claim.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that, whatever the charge, Mr. Falzarano's problem exists only because he chose to engage in criminal conduct leading to his conviction. Just as the rainy season is the wrong time to take a vacation, the present jail emergency period is the wrong time to commit a crime.
Missing personal property.
When Mr. Falzarano checked in at Essex County Jail he brought with him a carton of personal possessions he hoped to have access to in his cell. Some were taken and held as not allowed. He estimates their value at $ 20. So far, he has not secured their return.
The case of Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 101 S. Ct. 1908, 68 L. Ed. 2d 420 (1981) ruled that a claim of this nature does not amount to one coming within § 1983.
Mr. Falzarano is doubtless too young to be aware of it, but much the same kind of thing happened to countless military draftees during World War II, which at its peak had some 10 million men and women in active service. Some of these reported on travel orders for active duty and took with them all kinds of personal belongings, including security blankets, no doubt, in the mistaken belief that an Army barracks was home and should have all the creature comforts. They learned otherwise on their first lineup at the base, and countless trinkets were taken away for consignment to the tender care of the military police and never seen again.
This was not an ideal situation then, and it is not one now. But whatever the imperfections may be, they do not rise to § 1983 claims. As noted in Parratt, New Jersey does have a N.J. Tort Claims Act under which administrative remedies are provided to prisoners for this kind of unfortunate loss, no matter how small.
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