United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge.
inmate Aaron Devon Footes filed the above-captioned civil
rights complaint stemming from his protracted placement in
administrative and disciplinary segregation while
incarcerated at the North Branch Correctional Institution
(NBCI). Also pending is Footes' Motion to Appoint Counsel
(ECF No. 21), Motions for Preliminary Injunction arising from
the institution's actions taken in January 2018 in
response to Footes' inmate assault (ECF No. 27), and for
a medical examination. ECF No. 20. For reasons more fully
discussed below, the Court denies Footes' Motions for
Injunctive Relief. The Court also denies Footes' Motion
to Appoint Counsel as he has demonstrated the ability to
present his claims sufficiently. Finally, the Court denies
Defendants' Motion without prejudice to refile once the
Court ascertains Footes' current incarceration status.
March of 2016, Footes was an inmate housed at NBCI. NBCI
reassigned Footes from general population to administrative
segregation after he had been badly beaten by another inmate.
NBCI served Footes rule-violation notices and relocated him
to disciplinary segregation pending adjustment. ECF No. 1-2.
Footes was eventually acquitted of the rule violations and
transferred from disciplinary to administrative segregation
pending investigation. Id. For over a year, Footes
remained on administrative segregation, which prompted his
filing this Complaint. Id.
thereafter supplemented his Complaint wherein he clarified
that NBCI had not provided any explanation for his continued
placement in administrative segregation; that NBCI performed
an inadequate investigation as to why he was in segregation;
and that both the placement and continued confinement on
administrative segregation violated his constitutional rights
as well as Division of Corrections' policies. ECF No. 14.
Footes asserts that he has suffered adverse health effects
and denial of programming or opportunities to earn diminution
of confinement credits. Id. As relief, Footes seeks
compensatory damages and a regional transfer. ECF No. 1-3.
October 18, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss Footes'
claims, or in the alternative, for summary judgment granted
in its favor. ECF No. 17. In support, Defendants contend that
even though Footes was found not guilty of assault in 2016,
he was placed in administrative segregation because his
assailants were suspected of membership in Murder, Inc., a
Security Threat Group (STG). ECF No. 17-7, ¶ 5 (Lt.
Barnhart Decl.). More particularly, NBCI's Intelligence
Unit requested Footes' placement on administrative
segregation to address concerns for his personal safety and
the likelihood that Footes would be in danger if returned to
general population. Id., ¶¶ 6-7.
Defendants further note that the institution has since
conducted periodic case-management reviews concerning this
placement, and that as of June of 2016, Footes requested
transfer to another institution based on the stated concerns
for his safety at NBCI. ECF No. 17-10, ¶¶6, 7
(McMahan Decl.); ECF No. 17-9, at pp. 4, 6 (Confidential Case
result of the investigation, NBCI correctional staff believed
that Footes was a member of Murder, Inc. and that the March
2016 fight arose because Footes had fallen out of favor with
the Group. ECF No. 17-8, pp. 5, 8. The investigation
further revealed that Footes intended to seek revenge on
certain group members. Id. The Intelligence Unit
recommended Footes' transfer to another institution,
namely Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI). Id.
JCI was contacted in January of 2017, regarding a transfer.
Id., pp. 8, 10-13. In a supplemental pleading,
Defendants informed the Court that although Footes had been
approved for placement onto the JCI transfer list, transfer
was rescinded because a verified enemy of Footes was also
housed at JCI. ECF No. 25-3, ¶ 7, 25-4. The Western
Correctional Institution (WCI) was also ruled out as a viable
placement because that institution also housed a number of
Murder Inc. members and another of Footes' verified
enemies. ECF No. 25-3, ¶ 8. Footes, therefore, remained
December of 2017, NBCI case management considered reducing
Plaintiff's classification status from Maximum to Medium
Security, which would have allowed Footes to be transferred
to other available state institutions. ECF No. 25-5; ECF No.
25-3, ¶¶ 14, 90. This reclassification process was
halted after Footes' case manager learned that Footes had
assaulted another inmate on January 8, 2018. ECF No. 25-3,
¶ 11. On February 1, 2018, Footes was reassigned to
disciplinary segregation because of the assault, and he
remained at Maximum Security classification. Id.,
¶¶ 13-15. Nonetheless, NBCI continued to look for a
safe, alternative institution to which Footes could be
transferred. Id., ¶ 16.
Footes' Current Housing Status
has notified the Court that around March 20, 2018, he was
transferred to the Prince George's County Detention
Center for a hearing. ECF No. 29. Footes was also supposed to
be transported to JCI pending a court hearing which did not
occur, and then was returned to NBCI. ECF No. 30. On April 9,
2018, Footes wrote the Court, again stating that he is housed
at the Prince George's County Detention Center pending a
hearing, and because he expects to remain at the Detention
Center for months, he asked that Court mail be sent to the
Detention Center. ECF No. 31.
The Pending Motions
dispositive motion will be denied without prejudice subject
to renewal once the Court determines Footes' current
housing status. Defendants shall advise the Court within
thirty days from the issuance of this Opinion whether Footes
is currently housed in the Division of Corrections, and if
so, where and whether he is in disciplinary or administrative
segregation. If Footes is not currently housed in the
Division of Corrections, Defendants shall advise what his
housing status will be upon his return from the Detention
Center. Defendants shall also respond to Footes'
allegation that upon the expiration of his disciplinary
segregation term, he will be returned to general population.
If Footes is to be returned to general population as alleged,
Defendants shall explain the basis for the change in his
ability to be housed safely in the general population at
NBCI. Defendants shall also address what, if any, steps have
been undertaken to locate general population housing for
Footes either in another state facility or via an Interstate
Corrections Compact transfer. Defendants are further directed
to respond to Footes' claim that his prolonged stay on
administrative segregation has adversely impacted his health.
Within thirty days, Footes shall also update the court as to
his housing status.
motions will be denied. Regarding Footes' request for
injunctive relief to compel his transfer from NBCI (ECF No.
27), the Court denies the motion as moot in light of
Footes' recent supplemental correspondence stating that
he is not housed at NBCI currently. To the extent Footes'
placement in the future gives rise to similar requests for
injunctive relief, Footes may refile his motion.
grounds for requesting that this Court order Defendants to
medically examine him, Footes argued that segregation was
negatively impacting his health. Id. Defendants were
directed to show cause why Footes' motion should not be
granted. ECF No. 22. Defendants responded that correctional
staff have no personal involvement in providing or directing
the health care of inmates and that inmates may seek medical
evaluation by completing a sick call slip. ECF No. 24-1,
¶¶ 2 & 3. (Bohrer Decl). Defendants also noted
Footes' familiarity with the process for requesting
medical care, as Footes had requested medical care for pain
in his left big toe and left leg (ECF No. 24-2 at pp. 2-3), a
sore throat (id., at pp. 6-7), and abdominal pain
and constipation (id., at pp. 12-13), all within a
three-month span. Footes also declined medical evaluation
after he was involved in an altercation with another inmate.
Id. at p. 10. Footes replied that he had submitted
several sick calls slips complaining ...