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Patterson v. Kennedy

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

April 30, 2013

BRODERICK PATTERSON, #351-485, Plaintiff,
LIAM KENNEDY, et al., Defendants.


DeBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Pending is the motion of Defendants Daniel Barnes, Kathleen Green, Liam Kennedy, Jeffrey Kestler, and Dayton Rexrode to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 51) and Plaintiff's response thereto.[1] ECF No. 63. Upon review of the papers and exhibits filed, the court finds an oral hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).


On June 26, 2008, Plaintiff was convicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County of one count of identity theft, one count of theft of property having a value over $500, and one count of conspiracy to commit theft of property having a value over $500. He was sentenced to a total term of ten years of incarceration. ECF No. 38. Plaintiff noted a timely appeal, arguing that the State's evidence was insufficient to satisfy the Maryland rule that no conviction may rest on the testimony of an accomplice without independent corroboration, and the trial court improperly commented to the jury that the trial would be "short." The Court of Special Appeals found no reversible error. Petitioner's counseled Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Maryland Court of Appeals was denied on August 23, 2010. Id.

On September 14, 2010, Plaintiff received correspondence from his appellate attorney advising him that "there is no reasonable likelihood that the Supreme Court of the United States would grant review in your case, and therefore, we will not file a petition for writ of certiorari to that court in your case." Counsel further advised that any petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court must be filed on or before November 20, 2010. ECF No. 1.

On October 13, 2010, Plaintiff was placed in the segregation unit at the Eastern Correctional Institution for rule violations. ECF No. 38. Segregation inmates are not permitted physical access to the law library; rather, the inmate handbook provides that "Segregation inmates have library services brought to them on a regular basis." Id.

Plaintiff claims that on October 14, 2010 and November 8, 2010, he wrote letters to Defendants Rexrode and Kennedy asking for access to unspecified legal materials. Plaintiff further claims that on October 17, 24, 31, and November 7 & 14, 2010, he submitted Education Library Request Forms seeking unspecified materials to assist in his preparation of a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court. On November 7, 2010, he spoke with Defendant Barnes regarding his efforts to obtain legal materials. On November 17, 2010, he submitted an administrative remedy request ("ARP) concerning the denial of access to library materials. Plaintiff claims that he did not receive any response to his numerous requests for materials. Id.

As a result of Plaintiff's filing a Request for Administrative Procedure, Defendant Rexrode was assigned to investigate Plaintiff's claim. ECF No. 51, Ex. 1. His initial investigation concluded that Plaintiff was housed on segregation at the time in issue and segregation inmates are not permitted physical access to the law library, but rather must request information in writing. Rexrode concluded that no written requests from Plaintiff were received. He also noted Plaintiff refused to be interviewed as part of the investigation.[2] Id. Due to an error on the Warden's part in timely and substantively addressing Plaintiff's ARP, the matter was returned by the Commissioner for re-investigation. Id. Rexrode was again assigned to investigate Plaintiff's claim. Following the second investigation, Rexrode again concluded that Plaintiff was on segregation during the time at issue, no information request had been made by Plaintiff, no full time librarian was present on the dates in question, and Plaintiff again refused to be interviewed. Id.

Defendants Rexrode, Kennedy, and Kestler aver that they never received letters/requests from Plaintiff seeking legal materials. Id., Ex. 2 & 3. Additionally, Kennedy was not working at ECI during the time Plaintiff states he sent him letters. Id., Ex. 2. Defendant Barnes avers that during the time Plaintiff allegedly spoke with him regarding the legal materials, he was in charge of the Gang Intelligence Unit at ECI and was not responsible for receiving or otherwise addressing inmate complaints concerning access to the library. Id., Ex. 5.

As relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment "regarding the unlawful and unconstitutional acts and practices of Defendants, " compensatory and punitive damages, and equitable relief "ensuring that the effects of the unconstitutional and unlawful employment practices are eliminated and do not continue to affect Plaintiff's or others' access to the Courts and adequate legal materials." ECF No. 38.

Standard of Review

A. Motion to Dismiss

The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. See Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). The dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted does not require defendant to establish "beyond doubt" that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 561 (2007). Once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint. Id. at 563. The court need not, however, accept unsupported legal allegations, see Revene v. Charles County Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, ...

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