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Russell v. Warden, Lebanon Correctional Institution

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren

July 30, 2018

CHRISTOPHER M. RUSSELL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
WARDEN, LEBANON CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, Defendant-Appellee.

          CIVIL APPEAL FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. 17 CV 90106

          Christopher M. Russell, plaintiff-appellant, pro se.

          Michael DeWine, Ohio Attorney General, Jared S. Yee, for defendant-appellee.

          OPINION

          RINGLAND, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Christopher Russell, appeals the decision of the Warren County Court of Common Pleas dismissing his complaint for failure to state a claim under Civ. R. 12(B)(6). For the reasons detailed below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} In 2011, Russell was convicted, after a jury trial, of rape, gross sexual imposition, pandering obscenity involving a minor, and sexual battery, and sentenced to consecutive prison terms totaling 75 years. Russell's conviction was affirmed on appeal. State v. Russell, 2d Dist. Clark No. 2011-CA-10, 2012-Ohio-4316. Russell did not appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

         {¶ 3} Since that time, Russell has appealed various matters in federal and state courts. Russell v. Turner, 6th Cir. No. 16-3415, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 23620 (Oct. 28, 2016); Russell v. Warden N. Cent. Corr. Inst, 6th Cir. No. 17-3251, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 18058 (July 31, 2017); State v. Russell, 2d Dist. Clark No. 2016-CA-48, 2017-Ohio-7198.[1]

         {¶ 4} On August 7, 2017, Russell filed a complaint styled as a "Motion for Declaratory Judgment" with the Warren County Court of Common Pleas. Russell named the Warden of the Lebanon Correctional Institution (LCI) as the defendant and alleged that LCI's library policy caused him harm "by operating in a matter inconsistent with the required lawful and meaningful access to courts codified in State policy and Constitutional principles."

         {¶ 5} Russell's complaint alleged that LCI's library policy, which he describes as a "closed service with passes issued mainly once-per-month for one shift (3 to 4 hours)," bars his access to the courts and harms his efforts to overturn his conviction. As a result, Russell seeks declaratory judgment regarding the constitutionality of the library's operation.

         {¶ 6} LCI moved for dismissal under Civ.R. 12(B)(6). The trial court granted LCI's motion to dismiss after concluding that Russell failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.[2] Russell now appeals, raising four assignments of error for review.

         {¶ 7} Assignment of Error No. 1:

         {¶ 8} THE TRIAL COURT CONSTRUED THE ACTION UNDER 42 U.S.C. SECTION 1983 INSTEAD OF O.R.C. SECTION 2721.

         {¶ 9} Assignment of Error No. 2:

         {¶ 10} TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY DISMISSED THE ISSUE UNDER O.R.C. ...


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