United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Charles Pyne (“Defendant”) was indicted on
January 14, 2004. (ECF No. 1). Counsel was appointed, and
trial was set for September 14. On August 12, Defendant moved
to replace counsel. (ECF No. 44). An attorney inquiry hearing
was held before a magistrate judge, Defendant's motion
was denied, and counsel was instructed to file a motion to
dismiss based on an asserted Brady violation. (ECF
Nos. 45, 50). Counsel filed the motion to dismiss (ECF No.
55), and it was denied by the district judge after a hearing
(ECF No. 66). Counsel represented Defendant through the
seven-day trial, and the jury found Defendant guilty of
conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute heroin and possession with intent to distribute
heroin. (ECF No. 79). Defendant was sentenced to 144 months
in prison and a term of five-years supervised release. (ECF
August 18, 2006, Defendant filed an initial motion pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 alleging that trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to appeal the decision denying
Defendant replacement counsel and for failing to object to
the trial court's refusal to recuse itself and that
appellate counsel was ineffective for not raising trial
counsel's ineffectiveness on direct appeal. (ECF Nos.
125). The motion was denied. (ECF No.
136). The United States Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit denied Defendant's motion for a
certificate of appealability and his request for rehearing en
banc. (ECF Nos. 139, 149).
January 23, 2018, Defendant filed a motion to unseal the
document contained at ECF No. 75. In the motion, Defendant
quotes his trial counsel as having said at the hearing on the
motion to dismiss the indictment:
Your honor, I have an envelope . . . there are other reasons
why I still would not have filed the motion to dismiss . . .
. So I have put my reasoning in an envelope which I'm
asking the Court to allow to be placed under seal in the
court file to be opened only in the event of the filing of a
petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
(ECF No. 259 ¶ 3 (quoting transcript of Sept. 14, 2004
available at ECF No. 114)). Defendant “believes that
ECF No. 75 contains the envelope” and that it would
support a new motion to vacate his sentence based on
“trial counsel's intentional sabotage.”
(Id. ¶¶ 4, 5).
can seal and unseal documents “based upon the
court's inherent supervisory authority over its own files
and records.” United States v. Pickard, 733
F.3d 1297, 1300 (10thCir. 2013) (citing Nixon
v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)).
“A court exercises this authority on a discretionary
basis ‘in light of the relevant facts and circumstances
of the particular case.'” United States v.
Ring, 47 F.Supp.3d 38, 40 (D.D.C. 2014) (quoting
Nixon, 435 U.S. at 589).
cites no law or rule that supports unsealing the document.
Defendant only cites to a previous opinion of this court
allowing Defendant access to a transcript of the attorney
inquiry hearing. In that instance, the court permitted
Defendant's access because Defendant had been present at
the proceeding. (ECF No. 254). Thus, Defendant knew its
content, and keeping the document sealed from Defendant
served no purpose.
the document was sealed from Defendant,  and Defendant has
not provided any reason to unseal it. He believes it will
support his claim of “intentional sabotage, ” but
“intentional sabotage” is not a cognizable claim.
Ineffective assistance of counsel is a cognizable claim, but
Defendant has already filed multiple motions alleging
ineffective assistance of counsel which have all been denied.
Moreover, according to Defendant, ECF No. 75 concerns
counsel's reasons for not wanting to file a motion to
dismiss. Counsel, however, filed that motion, and it was
denied. Because the motion was filed, Petitioner could not
have been prejudiced by whatever counsel's reasons were
for not wanting to file the motion to dismiss. Thus,
the document cannot serve as a basis for an ineffective
assistance of counsel claim. In sum, there is simply no
reason to unseal ECF No. 75, and, therefore, the court will
not exercise its discretion to unseal the document.
motion would also be denied if Defendant moved to have the
document unsealed under the First Amendment or a common law
right of access. “For a right of access to a document
to exist under either the First Amendment or the common law,
the document must be a judicial record . . . . documents
filed with the court are ‘judicial records' if they
play a role in the adjudicative process or adjudicate
substantive rights.” In re U.S. for an Order
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(D), 707 F.3d 283, 290
(4th Cir. 2013). The document Defendant requests
played no role in the adjudicative process. It was not relied
upon by the district court in deciding the motion to dismiss,
and it has not been used in adjudicating Defendant's
various habeas petitions and related motions. It is not a
judicial record and not subject to either a common law
presumption of access or a First Amendment right of access.
Defendant Charles Pyne's motion to unseal (ECF No. 259)
BE, and the same hereby IS, DENIED.
 Defendant has filed at least two other
motions to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §