United States District Court, D. Maryland
GERALD D. FULLER Plaintiff
WARDEN FRANK B. BISHOP, JR., et al. Defendants
WILLIAM M. NICKERSON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
response to the above-entitled civil rights complaint,
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment.
ECF 18. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF 27, 28. The Court
finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow,
Defendants' motion, construed as a Motion for Summary
Judgment,  shall be granted.
Gerald Fuller, an inmate incarcerated in North Branch
Correctional Institution (NBCI), alleges that money is
improperly deducted from his prison account for payment of
fees in this Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
He claims that Defendant Larry D. Hanlin, who works in the
accounting office in NBCI, is violating 28 U.S.C.
§1915(b)(2) by deducting funds Fuller receives from
family, refunds, and “stale dated checks” for
payment of court fees. Fuller further suggests that the money
deducted from his account is not being used for payment of
filing fees because he does not receive receipts from the
federal courts for all of the deductions. He contends that
the deductions from his account for filing fees should only
be deducted from income earned from institutional jobs, not
gifts, refunds, or uncashed checks. Additionally, Fuller
asserts that the deductions exceed 20% of his monthly income.
Fuller also claims that he is entitled to receipts for
payment of filing fees for income tax purposes. ECF 1 at p.
concludes that the alleged improper deductions from his
account is the result of a conspiracy that likely includes
staff working for this Court. He seeks punitive,
compensatory, and nominal damages totaling 3.75 million
dollars as well as an order requiring all funds deducted from
his prison account that were not generated by his
institutional job be returned. ECF 1 at p. 5.
provide background information regarding the inmate account
system utilized in the Maryland Division of Correction
facilities, including NBCI. ECF 18.
in Maryland are provided an inmate bank account, which
consists of a “Reserve” Balance and a
“Spending” Balance. The Reserve Balance provides
the inmate with cash upon his or her release and maintains a
maximum balance of up to $50.00. The Spending Balance
contains all other funds and can be used to purchase things
during the time an inmate is incarcerated. Unused money in
the Spending Balance is given to the inmate upon his release
from prison. ECF 18 at Ex. 1, ¶ 3. Inmates are limited
to spending $85 per week on commissary items. Id. at
pp. 25, 32.
August 1, 2014, the Department of Public Safety and
Correctional Services (DPSCS), switched its accounting system
that utilizes software powered by Keefe Commissary Network,
Inc. The new software modified the manner in which funds owed
for filing fees were collected by immediately withholding 20%
of any funds deposited into an inmate account if filing fees
are owed. Funds are not withheld if the balance in the
spending account is below $10.00. The money is held until the
next month when it is then remitted to the federal court
system for payment of fees owed. The process is computer
automated. ECF 18 at Ex. 1, ¶ 4 and 5.
accounting system in place before August 1, 2014, did not
deduct money as it was deposited into the account; rather,
the deduction took place the following month when filing fees
were paid. The delay allowed inmates the opportunity to spend
the money before the money could be collected. The new system
prevents this evasion of financial obligations to the court
system. ECF 18 at Ex. 1, ¶ 6.
confirm that the source of the money deducted and remitted to
the court is not limited to income earned by the inmate from
his prison job. ECF 18 at Ex. 1, ¶ 7. Pursuant to
Executive Directive ADM 245.001.04(B)(2), earnings are
defined as funds deposited into “an inmate account from
any source.” Id. at p. 23, see also
Id. at p. 31 (Maryland Division of Correction Directive,
DOC.245.001). Inmates may obtain an account statement
reflecting deductions and deposits by submitting a request in
writing. ECF 18 at Ex. 1, ¶ 7.
Larry D. Hanlin is the Fiscal Services Chief II for the DPSCS
Northern Region and assists in overseeing the accounting for
NBCI. He states in his declaration under oath that he neither
personally accessed Fuller's bank account nor defrauded
Fuller of funds from his account. ECF 18 at Ex. 2 ¶ 3.
Defendant Warden Frank Bishop states in his declaration under
oath that he has no personal involvement with managing inmate
financial accounts, nor has he accessed Fuller's account.
ECF 18 at Ex. 3, ¶ 2 and 3.
regard to the filing fees owed by Fuller, Defendants state
that as of August 1, 2014, the date the new accounting system
was put into place, Fuller owed $1, 264.79 in federal filing
fees. ECF 18 at Ex. 1, ¶ 8. Fuller incurred another $505
in federal filing fees between August 1, 2014 and August 1,
2015. Id. During that one-year period, $411.46 was
deducted from his account for payment of federal filing fees,
leaving a balance of $1, 358.33 for federal filing fees owed.
Id. at pp. 8 - 20. The $411.46 deducted for the
filing fees occurred during the months of July and August,
2015. In July, two deposits were made to Fuller's
account; one for $50 on July 2, 2015 and one for $350 on July
14, 2015. On July 2, 2015, 20% of the $50 deposit ($10) was
withheld from Fuller's account and on July 14, 2015, 20%
of the $350 deposit ($70) was withheld and later paid for
federal filing fees. Another deduction occurred on July 29,
2015, because Fuller filed a notice of appeal in Fuller
v. Shearin, Civil Action WMN-14-1474 (D. Md.) and he was
required to pay $27.48 as the initial partial filing fee for
the appeal. After the deductions were ...