United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
above-captioned case was filed on August 1, 2016 by Plaintiff
Telvon Taylor, together with a Motion to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis. Because he appears indigent, Plaintiffs Motion to
Proceed in Forma Pauperis shall be granted. However,
Plaintiffs request for information under Maryland's
Public Information Act is not properly directed to this
Court. Further, Plaintiffs assertion that denial of the
information he seeks is a violation of his due process rights
is not legally sufficient. Therefore, Plaintiffs Complaint is
dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
is a federal prisoner confined at the Federal Correctional
Center in Beaumont, Texas. The complaint, naming as
Defendants a judge from the Circuit Court for St. Mary's
County, Maryland and judges from the Maryland Court of
Special Appeals, seeks injunctive and declaratory relief in
the context of Plaintiffs failed attempt to obtain coram
nobis relief in the Maryland state courts. ECF No. 1. The
named Defendants are all members of Maryland's judiciary
who participated in the denial of the relief sought by
Plaintiff and who, according to Plaintiff, have subsequently
ignored his repeated requests for access to documents in the
courts' files which are referenced in the decision
denying relief. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that his
arguments in support of his stated need for the documents
referenced have been ignored by the named Defendants.
9, 2009. Plaintiff filed a self-represented Petition for Writ
of Error Coram Nobis in the Circuit Court for St. Mary's
County challenging his January 26, 1996 guilty plea for
possession of cocaine with intent to
distribute. ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff raised the
following claims in his petition: plaintiff was unaware of
the nature and elements of the charges prior to entering a
guilty plea; the trial court did not conduct an adequate plea
colloquy; a factual basis for the guilty plea was not made
part of the record; counsel rendered ineffective assistance;
"actual innocence;" and plaintiff was not advised
of his right to appeal. Id. at 6.
hearing was held in the state circuit court on September 16,
2009, during which Plaintiffs trial counsel from the original
criminal proceedings, John L. Erly, testified. Id.
at 6. Erly testified in part that Plaintiff "could not
declare innocence due to [his] confessing to the crime prior
to pleading guilty" and that there was evidence that
Plaintiff made controlled buys of narcotics from undercover
police officers. Id. at 7. Plaintiff avers he
rebutted this testimony by stating he was never originally
charged with distribution of narcotics. Id.
September 26, 2009, Judge Abrams wrote a decision denying
coram nobis relief, referencing documents that she felt
substantiated the State's claim that Plaintiff was not
entitled to relief. Id.; see also ECF No. 1-1 at 19.
Relevant to Plaintiffs claim asserted here, the opinion
states that Erly produced: letters documenting numerous
meetings with Plaintiff which date to before the time Erly
was retained to represent Plaintiff (ECF 1-1 at 3); a copy of
a cover letter sent to Plaintiff showing he solicited input
from Plaintiff (id.); and a retainer agreement
referencing several meetings that occurred prior to Erly
being retained (id. at p. 5). ECF No. 1 at 7. Based
on Erly's testimony and the documents referenced. Judge
Abrams found Erly's testimony convincing and denied
relief. Id. see also ECF No. 1-1 at pp. 5 and 8.
Plaintiff maintains he was never provided copies of the
documents referenced and no documents presented by Erly were
entered into the record. ECF No. 1 at pp. 7-8. Plaintiff
further claims that Erly "held up one piece of paper
while stating the piece of paper was a retainer agreement
signed by the Plaintiff and states this claim is patently
false because he did not retain Erly to represent him, rather
his mother retained counsel on his behalf. Id. at 8.
Additionally, Plaintiff states that Erly held up another
piece of paper stating it was a letter mailed to Plaintiff
explaining the plea deal. Id. Plaintiff protested,
explaining to the coram nobis court he did not recall
receiving such a letter and that it was not relevant to
whether his guilty plea was invalid. Id.
states he filed a timely appeal of the denial of relief with
the Court of Special Appeals and the decision was affirmed.
ECF No. 1 at 2-3. The appellate judges who affirmed the
decision, Woodward, Matricciani, and Moylan, are named
Defendants in the instant case. Id.
10, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Claim for Relief Due
to Fraud on the Court and Judicial Misconduct and two
supplemental motions for relief in the Circuit Court for St.
Mary's County which were denied on June 16, 2011. ECF No.
1 at 3. Plaintiff appealed the denial to the Court of Special
Appeals and the decision was denied by Judges Hotten,
Nazarian, and James R. Eyler. Id. Other motions
subsequently filed by plaintiff were denied and affirmed on
appeal. Id. at 3-4.
states that on May 10, 2013, he filed a Request for
Production of Documents pursuant to the Maryland Public
Information Act with the Circuit Court for St. Mary's
County. ECF No. 1 at 3. He states, "Plaintiff has yet to
personally receive any type of response and/or reply
regarding his request for the production of documents
pursuant to the Maryland Public Information Act."
Id. at 3-4. The documents Plaintiff seeks are
described by him as a "true copy" of a "legal
court document" showing he was originally charged with
distribution as claimed by counsel at the coram nobis
hearing; and "each substantiating document [Judge]
Abrams declared attorney Erly produced at the coram nobis
hearing that supports denial of coram nobis."
Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff asserts that the named
Defendants have not acknowledged his Public Information Act
requests. Id. at 9.
the lack of response, Plaintiff obtained and submits a copy
of a letter from Judge Abrams to Assistant Attorney General
Stuart Nathan indicating that no documents were entered into
evidence at the coram nobis hearing; rather, the court simply
took judicial notice of the transcript of the proceedings.
ECF No. 1-1 at 11-12. Plaintiff argues that this means the
judge violated Maryland Rule 5-201 because he was not told
judicial notice would be taken of the transcript. ECF No. 1
states he is not asking this Court to review the validity of
the state court's rulings, but is seeking access to
"material evidence (documents, which would include a
legal court document in support of attorney Erly's
testimony)." ECF No. 1 at 12. He further seeks
injunctive relief declaring that Maryland's Public
Information Act, Post-Conviction Act, and Rule 5-201 are
unconstitutional; an order requiring the production of the
documents sought or an explanation as to why they are
unavailable or a description of their content; and an award
of attorney's fees. Id. at 14.
complaint as presented is subject to dismissal. Under
Maryland's Public Information Act. a request for
information subject to disclosure must be directed to the
custodian of such records. See Md. Gen. Prov., Code
Ann. §§4-201. 4-202. In this instance, the
custodian of any court records subject to disclosure are the
Clerks for the Circuit Court for St. Mary's County,
Maryland and for the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, not
the judges who authored opinions regarding Plaintiffs
attempts to obtain coram nobis relief. To the extent
Plaintiffs request for inspection of public documents was
forwarded to the proper custodian, a failure to respond to
such an application within 30 days of receipt constitutes a
denial. See Md. Gen. Prov., Code Ann.
§4-203(b)(3). When an applicant requests to inspect a
public record that is determined by the custodian not to
exist, the custodian is obliged to notify the applicant of
that determination. Md. Gen. Prov., Code Ann. §4-201
(d). Whether the custodians of the documents sought by
Plaintiff complied with any of these provisions is unclear.
However, this Court does not have jurisdiction over state
employees to mandate their performance of a duty owed under
state law. See Gurley v. Superior Court of Mecklenburg
County, 411 F.2d 586, 587 (4th Cir. 1969).
request for an Order from this Court declaring the Public
Information Act, the Post-Conviction Act, and Maryland Rule
5-201 unconstitutional is also not available from this Court.
Despite Plaintiffs assertion that denial of the information
he seeks is a violation of his due process rights, nothing
alleged in the complaint suggests he was denied due process.
The due process clause ''imposes procedural
limitation on a State's power to take away protected
entitlements."' Dist. Attorney's Office for
Third Judicial Dist. v. Osborne,557 U.S. 52, 67 (2009).
"Federal courts may upset a State's post-conviction
relief procedures only if they are fundamentally inadequate
to vindicate the substantive rights provided."
Id. at 69. In Plaintiffs case, he received a full
hearing and a written decision denying relief. His demand for
the evidence upon which the state court relied for its
decision, issued after the sentence emanating from the
conviction has expired, ...