Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
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.

Hanson v. New Hampshire State Prison Literary Review Committee

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

August 17, 2016

Michael Hanson,
v.
New Hampshire State Prison Literary Review Committee et al.[1]

          Michael Hanson, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          NH State Prison Literary Review Committee, Defendant, represented by Kenneth A. Sansone, NH Attorney General's Office.

          NH State Prison, Warden, Defendant, represented by Kenneth A. Sansone, NH Attorney General's Office (Civil).

          Christopher Kench, Defendant, represented by Kenneth A. Sansone, NH Attorney General's Office (Civil).

          NH Department of Corrections, Commissioner, Defendant, represented by Kenneth A. Sansone, NH Attorney General's Office (Civil).

          FNU Masse, Defendant, represented by Kenneth A. Sansone, NH Attorney General's Office (Civil).

          FNU Azzara, Defendant, represented by Kenneth A. Sansone, NH Attorney General's Office (Civil).

          FNU Burgh, Defendant, represented by Kenneth A. Sansone, NH Attorney General's Office (Civil).

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE, Magistrate Judge.

         Michael Hanson has filed this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting violations of his First Amendment rights and his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"). Defendants moved for summary judgment (doc. no. 31), Hanson objected (doc. no. 34), and defendants replied (doc. no. 35). Pursuant to LR 72.1, the motion for summary judgment is before this magistrate judge for a report and recommendation.

         Background

         Defendants have moved for summary judgment on each claim remaining in this case, specifically the following claims:

1. Defendants violated Hanson's (a) First Amendment free exercise and (b) RLUIPA rights, by denying him access to all or part of a book entitled, Shaolin Master's Text: History, Philosophy, and Gung Fu of Shaolin Ch'an, Revised Edition ("Shaolin Text").
2. Defendants violated Hanson's First Amendment free speech rights by denying him access to the Shaolin Text and to a book entitled, Sailing a Serious Ocean ("Serious Ocean"), which were mailed to Hanson at the New Hampshire State Prison ("NHSP").
3. Defendants, by denying Hanson access to his legal papers and causing him to lose an appeal in the First Circuit, violated Hanson's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to access the courts.

         Except as otherwise indicated, the following facts relating to those claims are undisputed.

         I. Facts Concerning Access to the Courts Claim

         A. Hanson's Legal Paperwork and First Circuit Case

         Hanson was an inmate in the custody of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections ("DOC") from August 2012 until his recent release from incarceration. Doc. Nos. 31-1, at 2; 41. On June 25, 2013, while he was incarcerated at the NHSP, Hanson was transferred to the Reception and Diagnostic Unit ("R&D") of that facility. Doc. No. 31-16, at 2. Pursuant to DOC policy, Hanson's personal property was not moved with him. Hanson's personal property included his legal paperwork. Compl., Doc. No. 1, at 12. On July 1, 2013, Hanson submitted an Inmate Request Form ("IRS") to NHSP Corrections Officer James Azzara, who was in charge of the NHSP Property Room, and requested his personal property. Doc. No. 31-16, at 2. Hanson's property was not there at the time, and Azzara so notified Hanson on July 2, 2013. Id.

         On July 18, 2013, Hanson was transferred from R&D to the NHSP's Secure Housing Unit, and Hanson's property was dropped off at the NHSP Property Room.[2] Id . Six days later, on July 24, 2014, Hanson was transferred to the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility ("NCF"). Id . It is undisputed that, at the time of his transfer to NCF, Hanson had been separated from his personal property, including his legal paperwork, since June 25, 2013.

         Hanson sent an IRS to Azzara, dated August 21, 2013, stating that he had not yet received his personal property, including his legal paperwork, at NCF. Doc. No. 31-16, at 3. Ordinarily, when an inmate is transferred from the NHSP to NCF, if there is no room for the inmate's property in the transport van, the property is transported at a later date, when there is space in the transport van. Id. at 2-3. On September 11, 2013, Hanson's property was still in the NHSP property room, and so Azzara personally drove to NCF to deliver Hanson's property to that facility. Id. at 3.

         On July 25, 2013, Hanson directed an IRS to the NCF law library, stating that he had "multiple open cases with deadlines within the next week, " citing open cases he had in the New Hampshire Supreme Court and New Hampshire Superior Court. Doc. No. 31-15. In response, the NCF law librarian scheduled Hanson for two hours a day of library time every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in August. Id.

         Although not mentioned in his IRS to the NCF librarian, at the time he was transferred to NCF, Hanson had an appeal of a civil rights action pending in the First Circuit. See Hanson v. Church, No. 13-1205 (1st Cir.). In that case, the First Circuit had issued an Order on July 12, 2013, directing Hanson to file an opening brief on or before August 21, 2013. Id . Hanson failed to respond to that notice, and, on September 26, 2013, the First Circuit dismissed Hanson's appeal because he failed to file a brief. Id . Hanson claims here that he lost his appeal as a direct result of the denial of access to his legal paperwork between June 25, 2013, and September 11, 2013. Compl. Doc. No. 1, at 12.

         B. Hanson's Exhaustion Efforts

         Between July 1 and September 1, 2013, Hanson submitted several IRS forms seeking access to his paperwork which stated that he needed that material to work on open legal cases. Decl. of Cynthia Crompton ("Crompton Decl."), Doc. No. 31-13, at 2.

         Between September 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014, Hanson filed a number of IRS forms, but "none of them claimed that a lack of access to his legal paperwork had interfered with his ability to work on any court case." Crompton Decl., at 2. Between July 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014, Hanson did not submit "any request slip or grievance about the withholding of any personal property, including legal paperwork, or stating that Mr. Hanson's lack of access to legal paperwork had interfered with his ability to work on any court case" to the NHSP Warden. Decl. of Gail Mansur, Doc. No 31-25, at 2. Hanson did not submit any grievances to the NCF Warden between June 1, 2013, and January 31, 2014. Decl. of Diane Bouthot, Doc. No. 31-30. Hanson did not submit any grievances to the DOC Commissioner between June 1, 2013, and March 13, 2014. Decl. of Leslie Bartlett, Doc. No. 31-28.

         II. Facts Related to RLUIPA and First Amendment Claims

         On December 31, 2013, the NHSP Property Room received a package addressed to Hanson from Amazon, containing two books, the Shaolin Text and Serious Ocean. See Doc. No. 31-16, at 3. Pursuant to DOC Policy and Procedure Directive ("PPD") 5.26, entitled "Inmate Mail Service, " Azzara opened the package to examine the materials and determine whether they violated any of the ...


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.