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Martin v. Brown

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 31, 2019

Kevin L. Martin, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Richard Brown, et al., Appellee-Defendant

          Appeal from the Sullivan Superior Court The Honorable Hugh R. Hunt, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 77D01-1811-PL-658

          Appellant Pro Se Kevin L. Martin Carlisle, Indiana.

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Monika Prekopa Talbot Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          MAY, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Kevin L. Martin appeals the trial court's grant of a motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissal of Martin's complaint against Richard Brown, B. Hinton, J. Meek, and Makenzy Gilbert (collectively, "Defendants").[1] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Martin is an inmate at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility ("WVCF"). On November 29, 2018, Martin filed a complaint against Defendants: Brown, who is Warden of the WVCF; B. Hinton, who is supervisor of WVCF law library; J. Meek, who is a caseworker at WVCF; and Makenzy Gilbert, who is mailroom supervisor at WVCF. Martin's complaint alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and of his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution stemming from an alleged incident involving the delivery of Martin's legal mail.

         [¶3] Defendants timely answered Martin's complaint and, on January 7, 2019, Martin moved to file an amended complaint. On January 11, 2019, the trial court issued an order stating it "was unable to ascertain the basis for said motion" and Martin had "twenty (20) days from the date here [sic] herein to state in a plain concise manner the necessity or reason for the request for leave to amend his complaint." (Appellees' App. at 39.) Martin did not respond to the trial court's order. Instead, Martin filed an amended complaint without the trial court's leave on January 17, 2019. On January 31, 2019, the trial court issued an order striking Martin's amended complaint.

         [¶4] On February 20, 2019, Martin filed a motion for an order compelling discovery. The next day, Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing Martin failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On February 21, 2019, the trial court granted Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed Martin's complaint with prejudice, stating:

The face of the Complaint makes it clear that there are no circumstances upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiff has not plead [sic] any actual harm related to his claim of First Amendment denial of access to the Courts, nor has he plead [sic] any facts in support of his claims of a due process violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

(Id. at 84.)

         Discussion and Decision

[¶5] At the onset, we note Martin appeared before the trial court and in this appeal as a pro se litigant. It is well settled that pro se litigants are held to the same standards as licensed attorneys, and thus they are required to follow procedural rules. Evans v. State, 809 N.E.2d 338, 344 (Ind.Ct.App. 2004), trans. denied.

[¶6] Martin has filed several prose appeals before this court. In all of those appeals, Martin's failure to follow the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure has led to either dismissal of his appeal or affirmation of the trial court's order dismissing his complaint. See Martin v. Gilbert, et al., 18A-CT-2095, 2019 WL 2363327 (Ind.Ct.App. June 5, 2019) (affirmed dismissal of complaint based on violations of Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure), trans. pending; Martin v. Brown, et al., 18A-CT-2940, 2019 WL 1217796, 123 N.E.3d 712 (Table) (Ind.Ct.App. March 15, 2019) (affirmed dismissal of complaint based on violations of Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure), trans. denied; and Martin v. Howe, et al., 18A-CT-680, 2018 WL 5956300, 113 N.E.3d 813 (Table) (Ind.Ct.App. November 14, ...


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