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Holland-El v. MD Parole Commission

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 11, 2017

MD PAROLE COMMISSION, et al, Defendants


          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, a Maryland state inmate, filed suit on August 3, 2017, alleging various civil rights violations. ECF No. .. On August 30, September 21, and September 27, 2017, the Court received letters from Plaintiff complaining of various problems he is experiencing while incarcerated. ECF Nos. 4, 10, 11. The Court issued an order instructing Defendants to show cause why injunctive relief should not be granted based on the contents of Plaintiffs letters. ECF Nos. 6, 14. Defendants have responded to the show cause order and Plaintiff has filed a reply. ECF Nos. 16, 20. Plaintiff has also requested appointment of counsel. ECF No. 26. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny injunctive relief and deny Plaintiffs request for counsel.


         In April 2017, Plaintiff was released on parole, conditioned on his entry into an inpatient drug treatment program. Compl. 3-4. Plaintiff states that he entered an in-patient treatment center on April 27 and was told on May 3 that he had "completed the detox phase of their drug treatment program and should enter an out-patient program." Id. at 4.[1] According to Plaintiff, the same day that he completed the detox phase, "parole agent Traci M. David submitted a false report" reflecting that Plaintiff had not satisfied the drug treatment program condition of his parole, which resulted in Plaintiff being placed in the Parole Violator Program (PVP) at Patuxent Institution. Id. Plaintiff filed this action against David, the Maryland Parole Commission, and others associated with the Parole Commission, seeking an order for his release from the PVP. Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff also seeks "$250, 000.00 in compensatory and punitive damages for violating the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], " alleging that, because he is disabled, the Defendants "show[ed] discrimination toward a qualified disabled person" by placing him in the PVP. Id. at 7-9.

         After filing the action, Plaintiff submitted letters to this Court chronicling the problems he was experiencing in the PVP. In his first letter, Plaintiff stated that Correctional Officer H. Bello threatened him by stating that "he would slap me in my mouth and force me to suck his penis." Aug. 30, 2017 Ltr. 1. Plaintiff implied that the threat was made in retaliation for filing this action. In his second letter, Plaintiff stated that he was

told by correctional staff members as [he] returned to [his] unit "that if [he] continued to speak and ran [his] mouth [he] would be placed on segregation and [he] would be caused to [sic] be removed from the PVP Program and would be violated by the Maryland Parole Commission and forced to serve the remaining six years of [his] twenty five year sentence without parole.

Sept. 21, 2017 Ltr. 1 (second internal quotation mark missing in original). Further, he stated that correctional staff refused to supply him with administrative remedy complaint forms and that when he "appealed to several white shirt supervisors, " he was "told 'this is Patuxent so deal with it' and if you continue to complain you can and will be placed at a location of this institution where we will not have to worry about your complaints, nor will you have access to any writing materials." Id. at 2. Finally, in Plaintiffs third letter, he stated that a correctional officer took Plaintiffs inmate identification card home with him, thereby subjecting Plaintiff to the risk that he would be charged with and found guilty of violating an institutional rule requiring the possession and display of one's inmate identification card. Sept. 27, 2017 Ltr. Plaintiff included a copy of his administrative grievance about the identification card incident. ECF No. 11-1.

         Following this Court's Orders to show cause why the Plaintiff should not be granted injunctive relief, the Defendants responded, asserting that the allegations contained in Plaintiffs three letters are false. Defs.' Resp. 2. As to Plaintiffs claim that Bello threatened him, Defendants stated that "Plaintiff recanted his allegations that CO Bello threatened him with physical violence and sexual assault as [a] result of filing this suit." Id. at 6. According to the affidavits of the litigation coordinator and warden, when they investigated Plaintiffs allegation against Bello, Plaintiff advised that he merely wanted Bello to leave him alone and informed a captain that "Bello did not say anything about slapping him or forcing him to suck his penis." Coccagna-Graham Decl. 1-2, ECF No. 16-1; see also Armstead Decl., ECF No. 16-2. Further, the litigation coordinator and wardenss search for any administrative complaints filed by Plaintiff regarding Bello yielded no results. Coccagna-Graham Decl. 2; Armstead Decl. 2. Officer Bello submitted a written statement asserting that he did not recall threatening Plaintiff at any time and that he never had physical contact with Plaintiff. Coccagna-Graham Decl. 4 (exhibit).

         As for Plaintiffs second letter, Defendants noted that Plaintiffs claim of threats of disciplinary segregation for "running his mouth" fail to identify specific officers or provide other evidence, and that Plaintiff has not, in fact, been subject to any discipline. Defs.' Resp. 7. Further, Defendants pointed out that Plaintiffs claim that he was not provided with administrative remedy forms is undercut by the fact that, shortly after sending the relevant letter, which was postmarked September 19, 2017, see ECF NO.10-1 (envelope), Plaintiff submitted an administrative complaint about his identification badge, ECF No. 11-1 (submitted September 22, 2017). Defs.'Resp. 7-8.

         With regard to the identification badge claim, Defendants included affidavits and notes from an investigation into his administrative grievance. Coccagna-Graham Decl. 2-3, 5, 8-9 (exhibits); Armstead Decl. 2. As determined in the course of the administrative investigation,

Staff did have his ID due to inmate requesting to have his account activated. However inmate received his ID back the same date. When interviewed, inmate stated he was able to still move throughout the institution (hospital for meds, chow, ride the elevator due to medical restrictions) without ID however he was wrote [sic] a pass with the note of "no id" on his pass. Staff returned his ID back to him, inmate stated when he woke up his ID was back in his possession.
. . . There was no negative effect due to inmate not having his ID in his possession. Inmate was still able to move off the tier for his medication, and chow. Staff had his ID due to inmate requesting to have his inmate account activated, and his ID was returned to him.

Coccagna-Graham Decl. 9 (exhibit).

Plaintiff filed a reply to Defendants' response to the show cause ...

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