The Regional office has denied my appeal regarding access access to the courts. My appeal was mailed the National Office of the BOP-DOJ on July 4, 2011. The access to the courts issue primarily involves primarily 1) access to all case law and legal documents relevant to any inmate’s legal issues and 2) access to hardware, software, peripherals, and supplies reasonably necessary for the production of legally proper pleadings.

This blog post summarizes the issues, and takes particular exception to the DOJ-BOP’s refusal to address the issues actually raised.

Links to copies of the written appeal and an addendum related to timing of the appeal are included…

On Monday, July 4, 2011, I sent off an appeal, from Regional to National office, of the Department of Justice-Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (DOJ-BOP) denial of my administrative request for reasonable access to the courts. The fundamental essence of this request is the federal prosecuting authority (DOJ) should be prohibited from active interference with a federal inmate’s own access to state and federal law, (both current, and if applicable, prior versions) their full appellate records, and reasonably modern computer equipment necessary for the production of technically correct legal pleadings.

Included with this appeal was an addendum concerning timing of the appeal. The DOJ-BOP has a wretched system of administrative appeals. As you can see from the addendum, the official record on appeal is not maintained electronically. Thus there is always a substantial possibility of uncertainty with respect to the actual state of the record, both as to content and timing of delivery.

There’s no good reason for the Department of Justice, (DOJ) which consumes nearly $30 billion of taxpayer funds annually, not to have a reliable electronic system. We have computers in the housing units, which currently are used only for Trulincs email, and a few administrative tasks such as inmate commissary, phone, and Trulincs account information. There’s no reason that those same computers couldn’t also be used for pursuing administrative remedies.

The county jail of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, is by no means a shining example of correctional competence. Nevertheless, they had an electronic system for filing and prosecuting grievances and appeals. If a jail can do it, surely the DOJ-BOP can do likewise.

You will see from the documentation that Regional dealt with the appeal principally by dodging the issues. Regional wishes to pretend that there is no option other than allowing inmates to each bring their own computers, printers, etc., into the prison. I made no such narrow request. I made it clear that the DOJ-BOP could provide an adequate quantity of equipment and services, to the extent that such an accommodation is deemed more favorable to the DOJ-BOP than permitting inmates to bring their own computers. However, this concession does not include allowing the DOJ-BOP to exclude access to a privately purchased Lexis-Nexis subscription, or to any website that provides current or past versions of the law, or other information that has a reasonable possibility of bearing upon a legal issue in any civil or criminal case involving a DOJ-BOP prisoner.

When a tribunal dodges the issues presented, it is a compliment to the validity and merit of the claims raised. If there was an honest answer that would deny the litigant any relief, then the honest answer would be assigned as the reason for denying relief. Dishonesty or evasion in the decision of administrative or judicial matters (cheating) involves at least the threat of a cost, in terms of public reputation and credibility, upon the cheater. A rational cheater will not engage in cheating unless he or she concludes that the benefits of cheating outweigh the expected value of the reputational cost imposed upon the cheater.

Still, I will be shocked beyond measure if National does anything but simply follow Regional’s dodging of the issues. The whole administrative appeal process is a farce. I’d love to get the statistics on the results of appeals, by category of appeal. Such statistics would doubtless establish that the administrative appeal process is little if anything more than a rubber stamp for pre-ordained decisions in favor of the DOJ.

After the administrative process is concluded, I will then be allowed to litigate the issues in federal court. How long that will take is anybody’s guess. After the claim of right to reasonable access to the courts is fully litigated, I intend to pursue my own criminal appeal, pursuant to the directive of the 3 judge panel in the 10th Circuit. Lindsey Springer’s direct appeal, most of which I have adopted, is fully briefed. If full relief is granted in Springer’s direct appeal, I will be released from prison. In that case, it is probable that the government will argue that my “access to the courts” litigation is moot.

Case No. 626132-R2-Appeal Doc-National-071111

Case No.626132-R2-National App.Addendum-071111