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Dubois v. Abode

August 21, 2007

PASCAL J. DUBOIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL T. ABODE, EX-WARDEN; JERRY BERKOWITZ, LAW LIBRARIAN; MIDDLESEX COUNTY ADULT CORRECTIONAL CENTER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis M. Cavanaugh, U.S.D.J.

Hon. Dennis M. Cavanaugh

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court upon motion by Michael T. Abode ("Abode") and Jerry Berkowitz ("Berkowitz"), for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. No oral argument was heard pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. After carefully considering the submissions of the parties, and based upon the following, it is the finding of this Court that summary judgment in favor of Abode and Berkowitz is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Pro se Plaintiff Pascal J. Dubois ("Plaintiff") filed the complaint in this action on March 13, 2004 (the "Complaint") against Defendants Michael T. Abode ("Abode"), Jerry Berkowitz ("Berkowitz"), and Middlesex County Adult Correction Center ("MCACC"). Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. Specifically he alleges (1) that Defendants Abode and Berkowitz engaged in a conspiracy regarding Plaintiff's use of the law library which negatively impacted his criminal trial; (2) interference with his legal mail which also had a negative impact on his criminal trial; and (3) injuries from an assault purportedly at the direction of Defendant Abode. (Comp. ¶¶ 8,12,14). Plaintiff seeks monetary relief and a retrial of his criminal case. Id. at ¶ 8.

At all times relevant to this matter, Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee at MCACC. (Id.). Throughout Plaintiff's detention at MCACC, Defendant Abode was MCACC's warden and Defendant Berkowitz the law librarian. Id. at ¶¶ 1,2.

Plaintiff alleges that on or about June 10, 2002, Abode conspired with Berkowitz to keep a detailed daily logbook, with dates and precise times of Plaintiff's legal work. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff further alleges that this logbook was forwarded for inspection to Abode who then forwarded copies to the prosecutor of Middlesex County. According to Plaintiff, this "conspiracy" regarding the logbook continued until February 3, 2003, when Plaintiff was convicted of his criminal charges. Id.

Defendants admit that Berkowitz maintained logbooks to keep track of certain inmates' library time after the inmates had complained to the courts about insufficient library access. (Def.'s Br. Summ. J. at 2; Berkowitz Aff.. ¶ 9, May 14, 2007). Defendants further allege that it was Berkowitz's idea to include the occasional citation or case name to demonstrate, via the logbooks, that the inmates had access to everything they requested in the law library. Id. However, Defendants assert that no facts exist which support Plaintiff's claim that the logbooks were forwarded to the prosecutors in Plaintiff's criminal action, that the logbooks had an impact in Plaintiff's criminal trial, or that Plaintiff was singled out with regards to recording his use of the law library (Def.'s Br. Summ. J. at 2).

Plaintiff also alleges that Abode interfered with his incoming and outgoing legal mail. (Comp. ¶ 12,13). Plaintiff claims that specific legal materials, pertinent to Plaintiff's criminal trial, were withheld by Abode until after Plaintiff had been convicted. Id. at ¶ 12. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Abode made "421 pieces of his mail disappear." Id. at ¶ 14. Abode denies any interference with Plaintiff's legal mail. (Def.'s Br. Summ. J. at 2). Abode argues that no facts exist to support that he had any direct control over or interaction with Plaintiff's legal mail. Id.. Plaintiff does not accuse Berkowitz of interfering with his legal mail. Id. at 2.

Plaintiff further alleges that on April 20, 2003, Abode initiated and caused the Plaintiff serious bodily harm. (Comp. ¶ 14). Abode and Berkowitz admit Plaintiff was assaulted by Dwayne Peel, another inmate at MCACC, on this date but deny that Abode had anything to do with Peel's assault on Plaintiff. (Def.'s Br. Summ. J. at 3). Abode and Berkowitz argue that there are no facts to support such a contention. Id.. Plaintiff does not allege that Berkowitz had any involvement in the assualt.

Abode and Berkowitz now move for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's allegations pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

B. Procedural Background

Pro Se Plaintiff Dubois filed the Complaint in this action on March 13, 2004, against Defendants Abode, Berkowitz, and MCACC. On April 21, 2004, Defendant MCACC was dismissed from this action pursuant to this Court's prior Order of April 23, 2004. On May 14, 2007, ...


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