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McBride v. The Maryland Correctional Institute for Women

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 8, 2015

AMY McBRIDE, Plaintiff,
v.
THE MARYLAND CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

Pending is a Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants, the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, Warden Carrol A. Parish, [1] the Maryland Department of Corrections, and the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation. ECF 25. Plaintiff has responded and Defendants have replied.[2] ECF 27 & 36. Upon review of 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

The case was instituted upon receipt of a civil rights Complaint filed by Plaintiff Amy McBride.[3] ECF 1. Plaintiff claims her right to access the courts was denied while she was held at Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. ("MCI-W"). She states that inmates confined at MCI-W are permitted to use the institution's library once per week. She indicates that at an unspecified time a problem arose whereby inmates were not provided their passes to access the library or other areas of the institution. Id. Plaintiff indicates that the materials contained in MCI-W's library is limited generally and in particular as to legal materials concerning laws beyond the State of Maryland. Id., p. 4. Plaintiff indicates that "if there was an issue with law outside the State of Maryland... the inmate was/is at a complete loss to have any redress." Id. Plaintiff states that many times when she went to the legal library she was not able to use the computer with Lexis/Nexis because it was already used by another inmate and that on at least one occasion she was not able to use Lexis/Nexis because the program had expired. Id., p. 4-5. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that her requests for additional time in the law library were denied by the Warden. Id., p. 5. Plaintiff further indicates her efforts to use LASI[4] resulted in delays in processing her request and her being provided wrong and incomplete information. Id., p. 5.

Plaintiff states that in November of 2012, she was to be transported for a court appearance. She attempted to take a box of legal materials with her but the DOC transport refused to allow her to take the materials. Id. Plaintiff states that Officer Booz agreed to hold the box of legal materials in her office until she returned. Id., p. 8.

When Plaintiff arrived at the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, a State's Attorney asked her to sign a waiver of extradition. Plaintiff declined advising that she had been advised that no detainers were lodged against her in Maryland or Pennsylvania. Plaintiff was presented with the detainer and she advised the Assistant State's Attorney that she did not have access to her legal resources and did not know about it so she was not willing to sign and would give up her speedy trial rights and await the appellate process for her case in Maryland. Id., p. 9.

Plaintiff indicates that when she returned to MCI-W the library was closed for a variety of reasons throughout the following month. Plaintiff requested unspecified materials but did not receive them. Plaintiff was returned to court several days later without having been able to research the issues regarding her extradition. She was advised at that time that the extradition would be finalized that day. Plaintiff explained that the library had been unavailable to her. Id., p. 11. Plaintiff was taken before a Judge, where she explained the problems with access to legal materials. The Judge directed she be provided a Public Defender. Plaintiff indicates that she spoke with the attorney that day, waited, and then was returned to MCI-W without any understanding of what had occurred in the court room. Id., p. 11

Upon her return to MCI-W, the legal library and/or computer access therein remained unavailable to her. Approximately a month later Plaintiff returned to court. Id., p. 12. Plaintiff again advised the court that she had no access to legal materials. Id.

Plaintiff returned to MCI-W where again she was denied access to legal materials via access to the law library or a computer. Id., p. 13. She indicates that her further efforts to use LASI were delayed and she was again provided the wrong materials to challenge her extradition. Id.

On January 12, 2013, Plaintiff was extradited to the Lebanon County Correctional Facility (LCCF) in Pennsylvania as a pretrial detainee. Plaintiff states that LCCF has no legal resources for women and denied women access to the library. Id. Plaintiff states that she wrote to the Chief Attorney of the Collateral Review Division of the Maryland Public Defenders' Office regarding her lack of access to Maryland and/or Pennsylvania legal materials. Id., p. 14. She asked that the Chief Attorney assign her an attorney to write her request for post-conviction relief and to keep her right to file a federal habeas petition preserved. Id. On an unspecified date, Plaintiff was assigned a Public Defender from the Collateral Review unit. Id., p. 15.

In sum, Plaintiff alleges that from May of 2011 to July of 2011 while she was housed at MCI-W she was denied access to an adequate library. Id., p. 16.

Defendants offer that MCI-W's library is operated by the Department of Labor and Licensing. ECF 25, Ex. 1. In 2012, access to the library for inmates housed at MCI-W were permitted to access the library on the day and time scheduled for their housing unit. ECF 25, Ex. 2; Ex. 1. Each housing unit was assigned one day a week to sign up for the legal library. Inmates were required to sign up a week in advance. Id., Ex. 1. During the relevant time records reflect that Plaintiff signed up to use the legal library on several dates from mid-August through November, 2012. Id., Ex. 1, pp. 11-17.

Legal research was provided to inmates via external hard drive containing Lexis/Nexis software. Id., Ex. 2. From 2012, until November 2014, the Lexis/Nexis software was kept in the librarian, Mr. Malveaux's office due to security concerns. The external hard drive was attached to the computer on an as needed basis and took a few minute to attach. Id. Malveaux indicates that the Lexis/Nexis hard drive is updated quarterly. Id.

LASI addressed Lexix/Nexis updates as follows:

Although it may be alleged that the software becomes outdated, the information pertaining to the law and cases is updated quarterly. The update generally includes any new reported cases to the law and cases is updated quarterly. This update generally includes any new reported cases or changes to the court rules or newly established laws or acts. When an update is issued it does not take away from what was already there, it only adds to the information that was already, there. The update comes in the form of an EHD (external hard drive). The EHD's are distributed to the state librarians directly from Lexis Nexis. The EHD's are numbered with an ordered number system to ensure that the librarian has the most recent update. Currently we are using ...

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