Blaisdell v. Frappiea

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 09-10-2013
  • Case #: 10-16845
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge O’Scannlain for the Court; Circuit Judges Goodwin and Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

The act of serving a complaint filed by another prisoner on a prison official is not a constitutionally or statutorily protected activity.

Richard Blaisdell is an inmate at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. Blaisdell asked the Classification Supervisor of the prison, Christina Frappiea, to notarize a complaint. After Frappiea notarized the document, Blaisdell “announced that she had been ‘served’ and handed her a summons and complaint.” Blaisdell was serving the complaint on behalf of another prisoner. Although Blaisdell served the summons and complaint, he was not a party to the suit. After Blaisdell served the documents on Frappiea, Frappiea filed a “disciplinary report charging Blaisdell with Conspiracy, Failure to Follow Rules, and ‘Violation of Federal, State or Local Laws.’” Blaisdell then filed suit, alleging that Frappiea filed the disciplinary report in retaliation for him attempting to serve the complaint on her. The district court held that Blaisdell’s service of process was not constitutionally protected and that Blaisdell’s summary judgment statement of: “[t]he issue in this case is not whether Frappiea wrote a false D.R. [disciplinary report] because of plaintiff’s multiple lawsuits, it is because plaintiff legally served Frappiea with a federal summons and complaint naming her as a defendant in a Mississippi lawsuit.” The Ninth Circuit first upheld the district court’s granting of summary judgment to Frappiea on the retaliation claim “to the extent it is based on prior lawsuits.” Second, the panel held that Blaisdell’s service of process on behalf of another inmate was not protected by the access-to-court doctrine because there were other ways for Gouveia to effectuate service on Frappiea. The access-to-court doctrine is meant to ensure that prisoners have “a viable mechanism to remedy prison injustices.” Rhodes v. Robinson. Third, the panel held that “because there is no evidence of expressive association, we conclude that the First Amendment does not protect Blaisdell’s attempted service of process on Frappiea.” AFFIRMED.

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