United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY GRANTING UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
Jeffery Capler, Jr., is a state prisoner. He alleges that the
defendants confiscated two photographs of his 8-year-old son
making a peace sign in violation of his First Amendment
rights while he was incarcerated at Wabash Valley
Correctional Facility (“Wabash Valley”).
Defendants Jeanne Watkins and Warden Dick Brown seek
resolution of this action through summary judgment. Because
the confiscated photographs contained images of hand symbols
that were potentially detrimental to prison security and
photographs without the prohibited hand symbols were
available, the defendants' unopposed motion for summary
judgment, dkt. , is granted.
Summary Judgment Standard
motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a
trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether
a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely
disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing
to particular parts of the record, including depositions,
documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party
can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited
do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute
or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence
to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or
declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out
facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the
affiant is competent to testify on matters stated.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in
opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in
the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and
potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P.
summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence
it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its
version of the events. Gekas v. Vasilades, 814 F.3d
890, 896 (7th Cir. 2016). The moving party is entitled to
summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller,
570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws
all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.
Skiba v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 884 F.3d 708, 717
(7th Cir. 2018). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility
determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are
left to the fact-finder. Miller v. Gonzalez, 761
F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court need only consider
the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh
Circuit Court of Appeals has repeatedly assured the district
courts that they are not required to “scour every inch
of the record” for evidence that is potentially
relevant to the summary judgment motion before them.
Grant v. Trustees of Indiana University, 870 F.3d
562, 573-74 (7th Cir. 2017). Any doubt as to the existence of
a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving
party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684,
691 (7th Cir. 2010).
Capler failed to respond to the defendants' summary
judgment motion. Accordingly, facts alleged in the motion are
deemed admitted so long as support for them exists in the
record. See Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th
Cir. 2003) (“[F]ailure to respond by the nonmovant as
mandated by the local rules results in an admission”);
Brasic v. Heinemanns, Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 285-286
(7th Cir. 1997) (affirming grant of summary judgment where
the nonmovant failed to properly offer evidence disputing the
movant's version of the facts). See S.D. Ind.
Local Rule 56-1 (“A party opposing a summary judgment
motion must . . . file and serve a response brief and any
evidence . . . that the party relies on to oppose the motion.
The response must . . . identif[y] the potentially
determinative facts and factual disputes that the party
contends demonstrate a dispute of fact precluding summary
judgment.”). This does not alter the summary judgment
standard, but it does “reduce the pool” from
which facts and inferences relative to the motion may be
drawn. Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir.
a private company that partners with federal, state, and
county correctional facilities to provide prisoner mail
services. Friends and family of offenders housed in the DOC,
including Wabash Valley, can use JPay to send money and
emails to DOC offenders. Senders may attach photos to JPay
Confiscation of Mr. Capler's Photographs
dates relevant to this lawsuit, Jeanne Watkins was employed
by the Indiana Department of Correction (“DOC”)
and worked as the Mail Supervisor at Wabash Valley. Ms.
Watkins' duties included reviewing incoming
correspondence to ensure that the correspondence did not run
afoul of DOC policies.
15, 2017, Wabash Valley correctional staff received a JPay
photo addressed to Jeffery Capler. That same day, Ms. Watkins
viewed and confiscated the JPay photo sent to Mr. Capler
because it contained a prohibited hand symbol.
to May 15, 2017, the Wabash Valley Security Threat Group
Coordinator instructed mailroom staff to prohibit hand signs
appearing in offender correspondence from being delivered to
offenders at Wabash Valley. This prohibition against hand
signs included peace signs because peace signs have been used
by Security Threat Groups as a hand sign. A Security Threat
Group (“STG”) is defined as: a group of offenders
that set themselves apart from others; pose a threat to
security or safety of staff or offenders; or, are disruptive
to programs or the orderly management of the facility.
17, 2017, Mr. Capler received formal written notice that
correctional staff confiscated the JPay photo of his son on
May 15, 2017. On May 17, 2017, Mr. Capler completed and
signed State Form 21682, Disposition of Offender Personal
Property/Correspondence, prior to the disposition of the JPay
photo of his son. On this form, Mr. Capler indicated that he
wanted the ...