Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, John Suddock, Judge. Superior Court No. 3AN-12-07764 CI.
James Barber, Appellant, Pro se, Wasilla.
Jack L. Earl, Jr., Appellant, Pro se, Juneau.
John K. Bodick, Assistant Attorney General, Anchorage, and Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellees Joseph Schmidt, Bryan Brandenburg, Sam Edwards, and Carmen Gutierrez.
Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Bolger, Justices.
Six Alaska prisoners jointly filed a pro se putative class-action complaint against various Department of Corrections officials. Their complaint detailed 18 causes of action, many of which address changes in Department policy regarding inmate purchase and possession of gaming systems and restrictions on mature-rated video games.
One of the prisoners moved for class certification and for appointment of counsel. The superior court denied the class action motion on the grounds that pro se plaintiffs cannot represent a class, and denied the appointment of counsel motion as well. The Department moved for dismissal of the prisoners' complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The superior court granted this motion on the ground that all of the claims were class action claims that could not be pursued.
Two of the plaintiffs, Jack L. Earl, Jr. and James Barber, each filed an appeal. They argue that the superior court erred in denying the motion for class certification, denying the motion for appointment of counsel, and dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. We consolidated the appeals. We affirm the superior court's denials of class certification and appointment of counsel, but we reverse the dismissal of the action and remand for further proceedings.
II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
In May 2012 Alaska prisoners Jack L. Earl, Jr., Michael Alexander, Anthony Garcia, Sam Williams, Tommy Patterson, and James Barber, all signing on the same complaint, collectively filed a putative class-action complaint against Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Schmidt and other Department officials. The complaint detailed 18 causes of action, alleging ...