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Smith v. Butts

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 27, 2016

Roy A. Smith, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Keith Butts, Jenny Gibson, Amber Berry, Misty Cecil, and Amie Williams, Appellees-Defendants.

         Appeal from the Henry Circuit Court. The Honorable Kit C. Dean Crane, Judge. Cause No. 33C02-1504-PL-20

          APPELLANT PRO SE Roy A. Smith Michigan City, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES Adam G. Forrest Boston Bever Klinge Cross & Chidester Richmond, Indiana

          Darden, Senior Judge

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Roy A. Smith appeals the trial court's denial of his motion for summary judgment and its grant of summary judgment in favor of Keith Butts, Jenny Gibson, Amber Berry, Misty Cecil, and Amie Williams ("the Officials"). We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

         Issue

         [¶2] Smith raises the following issue, which we restate as: whether the trial court erred in granting the Officials' motion for summary judgment and in denying Smith's motion for summary judgment.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] Smith is an inmate in the Indiana Department of Correction ("the DOC") and, at all times relevant to this case, was imprisoned at the New Castle Correctional Facility in Henry County. The Officials worked at the New Castle Correctional Facility in various offices including the law library and the mail department.

         [¶4] In late 2014, Smith was engaged in pro se litigation in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Initially, Smith did not prevail and decided to seek discretionary review by writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. On December 26, 2014, Smith gave the Officials his motion for extension of time to file a petition for writ of certiorari, expecting that the Officials would mail it to the Clerk of the United States Supreme Court prior to the January 6, 2015 filing deadline. A few days later, Smith gave the Officials his petition for writ of certiorari and related documents for mailing. On January 4, 2016, Smith gave the Officials a letter asking them to return the petition for writ of certiorari to him, explaining that he had discovered an error in the document that needed to be corrected. Subsequently, he gave the Officials his corrected petition for writ of certiorari to be mailed.

         [¶5] On January 20, 2015, the Clerk of the United States Supreme Court sent Smith a letter indicating that his motion for enlargement of time was untimely because it had been due on or before January 6, 2015, but was postmarked January 8, 2015, and received by the clerk on January 16, 2015. As a result, his petition for writ of certiorari was untimely and would not be considered. Smith received the letter on February 17, 2015.

         [¶6] On February 18, 2015, Smith submitted his first informal grievance, in which he alleged Amber Perry and Keith Butts failed to properly handle his legal mail, resulting in the untimely ending of his federal case. On February 20, 2015, Misty Cecil issued a written response denying the informal grievance. The document informed Smith he had ten days to file a formal grievance.

         [¶7] On February 21, 2015, Smith filed his first formal grievance, claiming Perry, Butts, and Cecil failed to timely send out his legal mail, resulting in the termination of his case before the United States Supreme Court. On March 9, 2015, a grievance coordinator denied the first formal ...


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