Sunday, July 4, 2010

1983 cases

In order to prevail on a § 1983 claim, the plaintiff must show that the defendant caused the deprivation of a federal right while operating under color of state law. Harrison v. Springdale Water & Sewer Comm'n, 780 F.2d 1422, 1426 (8th Cir.1986) (holding that a § 1983 inquiry requires consideration of "(1) whether the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) whether this conduct deprived a person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." (quoting Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981))). The right of access to the courts is well-established. Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415, 122 S.Ct. 2179, 153 L.Ed.2d 413 (2002). The right applies not only to the actual denial of access to the courts, but also to situations in which the plaintiff has been denied meaningful access by some impediment put up by the defendant. Alexander v. Macoubrie, 982 F.2d 307, 308 (8th Cir.1992).

While the right to access the courts exists, the Supreme Court and our court have recognized that the constitutional basis for the right is "unsettled." Harbury, 536 U.S. at 415, 122 S.Ct. 2179; Harrison, 780 F.2d at 1427 n. 7. In some circumstances, our circuit has held that the right to access derives from the First Amendment. See, e.g., Whisman v. Rinehart, 119 F.3d 1303, 1312-13 (8th Cir.1997); Harrison, 780 F.2d at 1427. In order to prevail on such a claim, the Scheelers must show that the defendants acted with some intentional motivation to restrict their access to the courts. See Whisman, 119 F.3d at 1313 (stating that right-to-access cause of action requires proof of government action "designed" to prevent access to the courts); Harrison, 780 F.2d at 1428 (holding that plaintiff sufficiently pled a valid right-to-access claim by alleging that city employees retaliated against them for filing a lawsuit).

in reference to: Delroy C. Scheeler, Individually and on Behalf of Craig A. Scheeler; Rhonda L. Scheeler, Individually and As Trustee on Behalf of Craig A. Scheeler, Appellants, v. City of St. Cloud, Minnesota; County of Stearns, Minnesota; Dennis O'keefe, Individually and in (view on Google Sidewiki)

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