United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
Jeff Farmer has brought this action seeking damages and
injunctive relief in connection with the conditions of his
confinement in a Maryland penitentiary. Am. Compl., ECF No.
10. This Court's Memorandum and Order of July 26, 2018
(ECF Nos. 23 & 24) denied various requests for injunctive
relief, dismissed certain claims, and required service of the
properly stated claims. ECF Nos. 23 & 24. Two additional
matters now demand the Court's attention. The first is a
July 11, 2018 filing, titled, "Request for Expediation
of Injunction Request and to Start Trial," which, among
other things, asserts Defendants restricted Farmer's
access to water. Pl.'s July 11, 2018 Mot., ECF No. 22. A
second filing, styled as a "Request for Subpeona [sic]
and Preservation of Crucial Evidence/Camera Footage,"
contains a series of requests, including requests for access
to counsel and for a subpoena of video surveillance footage.
Pl.'s Aug. 13, 2018 Mot., ECF No. 29. For the reasons
detailed below, the motions are denied.
to Drinking Water
Farmer's July 11, 2018 filing, he alleges that between
July 2 and 8, 2018, he received no potable drinking water in
his cell and no more than one or two cups of ice per day.
Pl.'s July 11, 2018 Mot. 1, ECF No. 22. The Department of
Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) responded on
July 27, 2018, submitting records showing that Farmer
complained on July 6, 2018, that there was no water in his
cell. Ex. to Defs.' Resp. 7, ECF No. 27-1. As best I can
discern, the sink in Farmer's cell was not working for a
period of time. Defense counsel was unable to locate a work
order to establish the sink had been repaired, but Captain
Darryl Mears and Lt. William Clayton averred the problem was
fixed, possibly by the "inmate plumber," and that a
July 19, 2018, inspection found the cell had running water.
Id. at 3. Farmer himself has stated that plumbers
serviced the sink on July 12, 2018. Pl.'s Aug. 13, 2018
Prison Litigation Reform Act requires exhaustion of available
administrative remedies prior to the filing of a civil rights
action. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. The exhaustion
requirement serves several purposes, including "allowing
a prison to address complaints about the program it
administers before being subjected to suit, reducing
litigation to the extent complaints are satisfactorily
resolved, and improving litigation that does occur by leading
to the preparation of a useful record." Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 219 (2007); see Moore v.
Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725 (4th Cir. 2008). Defendants
note Farmer did not file an administrative remedy procedure
complaint ("ARP"). Ex. to Defs.' Resp. 2, ECF
No. 27-1. Farmer has conceded the point. Pl.'s Aug. 13,
2018 Mot. 13 ("She's real funny stating that I did
not file an ARP! Why would I, [since] in the 100 [or] so
I've filed not one single one has EVER resolved any
problem?"). In failing to exhaust his administrative
remedies, Farmer did not afford corrections officials a
sufficient opportunity to address his concerns through the
administrative process. His claim for legal relief is
therefore dismissed. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e.
August 13, 2018, filing contains, among various other
requests, a demand for appointment of counsel. Pl.'s Aug.
13, 2018 Mot. 5-6. A federal district court judge's power
to appoint counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) is a
discretionary one. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1);
Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d 779, 780 (4th Cir. 1975). A
judge may freely deny the request where the case presents no
complex issues or exceptional circumstances. Whisenant v.
Yuam, 739 F.2d 160, 163 (4th Cir. 1984), abrogated
on other grounds by Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Court for the S.
Dist. of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989).
argues it is difficult to represent himself because he lacks
access to a law library while segregated from other inmates
and would find it challenging to gather affidavits and other
evidence. Pl.'s Aug. 13, 2018 Mot. 5-6. Farmer's
circumstance,, though, are hardly unusual, and his claims
present no issues of particular complexity. At this early
stage. of the case, where discovery has yet to commence, no
exceptional circumstances are apparent. Farmer's motion
is therefore denied without prejudice. See
Whisenant, 739 F.2d at 163.
of Dismissed Claims
next asks for "reconsideration" of this Court's
Memorandum and Order of July 26, 2018 (ECF Nos. 23 & 24)
dismissing claims against a number defendants on the grounds
that some of the claims were frivolous, while others were
duplicative of claims Farmer has brought in separate
litigation. Pl.'s Aug. 13, 2018 Mot. 7-16. I construe
this request as a Rule 54(b) motion to reconsider an order
that is not a final judgment. See Broadvox-CLEC, LLC v.
AT&T Corp., 98 F.Supp.3d 839, 850 (D. Md. 2015). In
reviewing a Rule 54(b) motion, the Court takes guidance from
the case law governing Rule 59(e) motions to alter or amend a
judgment and Rule 60(b) motions for relief from judgment.
59(e) motion "need not be granted unless the district
court finds there has been an intervening change of
controlling law, that new evidence has become available, or
that there is a need to correct a clear error or prevent
manifest injustice." Robinson v. Wix Filtration
Corp. LLC, 599 F.3d 403, 411 (4th Cir.2010). Rule 60(b)
provides overlapping, but broader, bases for relief from a
court order: "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or
excusable neglect"; newly discovered, previously
unavailable evidence; "fraud ..., misrepresentation, or
misconduct by an opposing party"; a void, satisfied, or
discharged judgment, or "any other reason that justifies
relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b).
dissatisfaction with the Court's order is unmistakable.
See, e.g., Pl.'s Aug. 13, 2018 Mot. 14 (accusing
this Court of "abusing your powers to protect your
fellow court workers"); id. at 11 (faulting the
Court for having the "audacity or incompetence" to
credit a "dumbass statement"). His motion, though,
does not challenge the Court's conclusion that certain
claims were duplicative, nor does it illuminate any clear
errors in the Court's determination that other claims
lacked merit. Federal law requires the Court to screen
prisoner complaints and dismiss claims that are frivolous or
malicious or that fail to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Farmer's Rule
54(b) motion, accordingly, is denied. The Court further
cautions Farmer to refrain from continued inappropriate
language and attacks on the Court's integrity in future
filings, which may result in the entire pleading being
for Cease and Desist Order
also asks the Court to order Robert P. Duckworth, Clerk of
the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, to cease sending
him bills for fees purportedly owed in connection with a
prior lawsuit that has since been dismissed. Duckworth is no
longer a party to this case. See Mem. Op., ECF No.
24. For that matter, the fees appear to relate to a state
court case. While federal law authorizes this Court to issue
"all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their
respective jurisdictions," 28 U.S.C. § 1651, the
subject of Farmer's request would seem to lie within the
jurisdiction of Maryland's state courts. For this reason,
I decline to issue a writ of ...