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Young v. Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 24, 2015

ANTOINE YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY & CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Pending is a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Gary Maynard, J. Phillip Morgan, Steven A. Wilson, John Sandstrom, and J. Michael Stouffer. ECF No. 11.[1] Plaintiff has responded. ECF No. 13. 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. 2014). For the reasons stated below, the dispositive motion will be granted.

Background

Plaintiff Antoine Young alleges that in August of 2011, while confined at the Western Correctional Institution ("WCI"), Case Manager Helmick denied him access to his lawyer by refusing to schedule a telephone conference and released personal information to his lawyer without Plaintiff's consent. ECF No. 1, p. 3; ECF No.1-1.[2] In attachments to the Complaint, it appears that Mr. Helmick advised Plaintiff's attorney of the basis for Plaintiff's assignment to disciplinary segregation and declined the attorney's request to bring Plaintiff to case management for a phone consultation. The attorney reported that he was advised that Plaintiff had lost the right to use the telephone due to his placement on disciplinary segregation. ECF Nos. 1-10, 1-11. Plaintiff indicates he complained to J. Michael Stouffer and Philip Morgan, but apparently his complaints were denied, and he appealed the warden's decision to the Inmate Grievance Office (IGO). ECF No. 1, p. 3. Plaintiff's complaint was dismissed by the IGO for failure to state a claim. Id., p. 3-4. Plaintiff also indicates he wrote to Secretary Gary Maynard regarding these issues but does not indicate what, if any, response he received. Id. Plaintiff complains that the disclosure of information regarding his disciplinary segregation sentence was in violation of Division of Correction policy and was not authorized by him. ECF No. 1-12.

Defendants indicate that the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) promulgated Division of Correction Directive (DCD) 200-002 provides that an inmate may utilize the automated inmate telephone system (AITS) to place telephone calls. ECF No. 11-3. Additionally, an inmate may receive permission to use a correctional facility's non-AITS telephone for an emergency call, to contact his or her attorney when an established legal deadline cannot be met unless immediate telephone contact is allowed, or under extraordinary circumstances as determined by the inmate's case manager. Id., at 06(H). Inmates who are assigned to disciplinary segregation have the same procedures as general population inmates for using the telephone for legal matters. ECF No. 11-4 (WCI 110.006.1.05(A)(16), providing that segregation inmates must make request for access to the attorney of record in writing to the Housing Unit Manager, Case Manager or Chaplain for approval).

Additionally, WCI's inmate handbook delineates institutional rules, including those for telephone use. ECF No. 11-5. WCI's inmate handbook notes inmates may use an institutional phone to make emergency telephone calls. Id. Legal calls are not considered emergencies[3] and communication between inmates and their attorneys are to be handled through the mail, visitation, or by collect calls using the recreational hall telephone. Id.

Plaintiff's case manager, Stephen Helmick, denies telling Plaintiff's attorney that disciplinary segregation inmates cannot receive an attorney phone call. Helmick avers that he conducts all attorney inmate phone calls in accordance with relevant DCDs and the WCI inmate handbook. ECF No. 11-4. Inmates confined on disciplinary segregation may set up a prearranged date and time between the lawyer and case manager for a collect call to be made by the inmate for attorney client communication. Id. Additionally, while housed on disciplinary segregation, Plaintiff was allowed attorney visits and could communicate with his attorney through mail. ECF No. 11-8. After filing a grievance regarding Helmick's conversation with his attorney, Plaintiff was specifically reminded of the four means for communicating with his attorney i.e. mail, visitation, video conference, and collect telephone call. ECF No. 1-1.

Plaintiff was assigned to disciplinary segregation after having been found guilty, on April 18, 2011, of assault on an inmate and possession of a weapon. ECF No. 11-7. He was sentenced to 365 days of disciplinary segregation and his visitation was suspended for one year. Id., p. 7. On November 2, 2011, Plaintiff's conviction for assault on an inmate was upheld by an administrative law judge. ECF No. 11-9. Plaintiff's conviction for possession of a weapon was vacated and as a result the sanction of loss of visitation was vacated and a lesser sanction of 180 days loss of visitation imposed. Plaintiff's sanctions were affirmed in all other respects. Id.

WCI 20-0012, entitled "Access to Inmate Case Records, " provides that an inmate may be asked to sign a release form in order that the institution may respond to both oral and written inquiries by family members, attorneys or other individuals. ECF No. 11-10, p. 2 (WCI 020.0012.05(C)). Only general case information may be disclosed without the inmate's consent. Id. In order for a third party to access an inmate's base file, a DCD 20-12 AR release form is required. ECF No. 11-8. Information concerning an inmate's disciplinary segregation status can be given to an attorney to explain how the attorney can contact his client even if no release form has been completed. Id.

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, see Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, see United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979).

B. Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary Judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) ...


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