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Resper v. Webb

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 8, 2016

WAYNE RESPER, Plaintiff,
v.
WAYNE WEBB, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PETER J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending is a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment filed by CCMS II Michael Yates, CO II David C. Robey, Richard Graham, Jr., Warden, and Wayne Webb, Executive Director. ECF 25. Plaintiff has not responded.[1] Upon review of papers and exhibits filed, the court finds an oral hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). 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 Wayne Resper, a state inmate confined at the Western Correctional Institution (“WCI”). ECF 1. Plaintiff’s Complaint, dated April 15, 2015, and received for filing on April 22, 2015, alleged that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by interfering with his legal papers, reading his legal papers outside of his presence, and destroying his papers. Id.

         Plaintiff claims that Robey confiscated his legal and personal papers “under the guise of ‘bringing Plaintiff into compliance’ with the 1.5 cubic feet of paperwork allowed to be maintained in Plaintiff’s possession.” ECF 1, p. 3. Plaintiff states he was told that property personnel would call him to the property room to conduct an inventory, determine the status of his active cases, and provide him with the allowable 1.5. cubic feet of paper work. Id. Plaintiff states that when he met with property personnel, he was advised that his paperwork was being held pending case management review of his active cases and he was denied access to his papers. Plaintiff states that as a result of this conduct he was denied access to the courts and due process of law. Id.

         Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on June 1, 2015, adding Defendant Yates. ECF 9. Plaintiff alleges Yates improperly read and destroyed Plaintiff’s paperwork. Id., pp. 1-2.

         Plaintiff sought declaratory relief and an injunction ordering Defendants to cease denying him access to his paperwork. ECF 1, p. 5. The undersigned previously denied Plaintiff’s request for a preliminary and permanent injunction. ECF 10.

         Defendants offer that the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) has promulgated Division of Correction Directive (DCD) 220-004 governing inmate personal property. ECF 25-2. The “rules contribute to the management of inmate personal property in the institution, and to [the creation of] a safe environment for staff and inmates by reducing fire hazards, security risks, and sanitation problems that relate to inmate personal property.” Id., p. 1, § III. Inmates are allowed to maintain books and papers not to exceed 1.5 cubic feet. Id. p. 20, Appendix 1.

         On March 25, 2015, Robey conducted a search of Plaintiff’s property because Plaintiff maintained property in his cell in excess of the allowed limit as permitted under DCD 220-004. ECF 25-3, ¶ 2. Robey confiscated six boxes of paperwork. ECF 25-3, ¶ 2, ECF 25-4, pp. 8, 21. Plaintiff was permitted to go through the paperwork before it was removed so that he could keep any documents pertaining to pending court cases, up to the allowable limit of 1.5 cubic feet. ECF 25-3, ¶ 2. After Plaintiff selected the materials he wished to keep, the remaining paperwork was sent to the property room to be stored. Id., ¶ 3.

         On May 1, 2015, Plaintiff requested to review the twelve boxes of his stored papers. ECF 25-4, p. 1, ¶¶ 2-3. Given the volume of material, Yates requested Plaintiff cull through his papers so that any unneeded papers could be discarded. A small number of duplicate papers and newspapers were confiscated. ECF 25-4, p. 1, ¶¶ 2-3; p. 22. Yates avers he never viewed Plaintiff’s property out of Plaintiff’s presence and that beyond the newspapers and duplicate materials confiscated on May 1, 2015, he has not confiscated any of Plaintiff’s materials. ECF 25-4, p. 1, ¶ 4.

         Plaintiff filed Administrative Remedy Procedure (ARP) WCI-0525-15 on March 28, 2015, complaining that on March 25, 2015, Robey confiscated all of his legal and personal property, boxed it out of his presence, and refused to allow Plaintiff to copy and mail certain documents. ECF 25-4, p. 16. Plaintiff indicated that on March 27, 2015, he was called to the property room and advised that his property was there but he could not access it until he made arrangements with the housing unit lieutenant regarding an assessment of the papers. Id., p. 17. Plaintiff complained that the confiscation interfered with his access to courts and agencies and sought immediate access to his paperwork. The ARP was procedurally dismissed, pending resubmission as staff determined that additional information was required in order to investigate Plaintiff’s concerns. Id., p. 16.

         Plaintiff resubmitted ARP WCI-0525-15 on April 9, 2015, attaching the requested information. Id., p. 3. He indicated that he had been advised that he would be called to the property room and provided 1.5 cubic feet of date sensitive paperwork. He complained that he was not provided with the material or access to it. Id. The Warden dismissed ARP WCI 0525-15 on April 14, 2015, after investigation, indicating that Plaintiff had been provided an opportunity to go through current case material and he was allowed to maintain 1.5 cubic feet of paperwork in his cell. Id., p. 4. Plaintiff was directed to submit a written request to his Case Manager for access to his paperwork in order to exchange documents to stay within the 1.5 cubic feet limit. The dismissal also reminded Plaintiff had previously been advised of this procedure. Id.

         Plaintiff appealed ARP WCI 0525-15 to the Commissioner of Corrections. Id., pp. 11-12. Plaintiff alleged that he was not allowed to select or sort his paperwork because it was removed and boxed in his absence. Id. On June 5, 2015, the appeal was denied on the basis that the warden had fully ...


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