United States District Court, D. Maryland
BRANDON H. WARFIELD, #139967, Plaintiff
HARFORD COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, JEFFERY R. GAHLER, Sheriff, MICHAEL CAPASSO, Warden, MICHAEL SILER, Captain, Defendants
W.GRIMM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
February 21, 2018, Plaintiff Brandon H. Warfield has been
detained at the Harford County Detention Center
("Detention Center"). Compl. 2, ECF
NO.1. In a verified Complaint, Warfield
alleges that he lacks direct access to the law library and
the information he receives upon request often is
"wrong." Id. Warfield complains the legal
materials housed in the library are outdated and various
pages have been ripped from its books. Id. at
He states he is depressed and anxious because he is unable to
"provide for [his] defense," id, and he
seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and
injunctive relief against the Harford County Detention
Center, Sheriff Jeffery R. Gahler, Warden Michael Capasso,
and Captain Michael Siler for alleged violation of his civil
rights under 42 U.S.C. S 1983. Compl. 4; Suppl. Compl., ECF
NO.6 (naming defendants).
have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for
Summary Judgment, ECF No.9, and Warfield has filed an
opposition, ECF No. 11. A hearing is not needed to resolve
this case. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018).
Defendants provide several defenses to suit, including that
Warfield fails to allege that he was harmed from the
purported denial of access to which he was entitled. Missing
from their analysis, however, is an argument that Warfield
actually had the access to which he was entitled, which I now
consider sua sponte. Because Warfield had legal
assistance, he cannot state a claim for denial of access to
the law library. See Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817,
828 (1977), abrogated in part on other grounds by Lewis
v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 354 (1996); see also
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 350-51. Accordingly, Defendants'
motion, treated as a motion to dismiss, is granted, and
Warfield's Complaint, as amended, is dismissed.
claims are subject to dismissal if they "fail to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Likewise, under 28 U.S.C. S 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), the
court "shall dismiss the case at any time if the court
determines that... the action . . . fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted." Thus,
Warfield's complaint must allege enough facts to state
"a plausible claim for relief." Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). "A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Id. at 678.
courts should construe pleadings of self-represented
litigants liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007), legal conclusions or conclusory statements do
not suffice, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The Court must
examine the Complaint as a whole, consider the factual
allegations in the complaint as true, and construe the
factual allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268
(1994); Lambeth v. Bd of Comm'rs of Davidson
Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005). When, as here,
the plaintiff is detained or imprisoned by the state, this
Court may take judicial notice of the state court docket.
See Fed. R. Evid.201(b)(2).
well established that prisoners have a constitutional right
of access to the courts, Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828,
and that right has been extended beyond the scope of the
"constitutionally and statutorily protected availability
of the writ of habeas corpus." See Johnson v.
Avery, 393 U.S. 483, 489-90 (1969). Although this
right has been extended to provide a right of access to an
adequate law library, it is not absolute: if the state
provides adequate legal assistance, it need not provide
access to a law library, even if the individual is proceeding
as a self-represented litigant in a criminal case. See
Almond v. Davis, 639 F.2d 1086, 1090 (4th Cir. 1981)
(holding that record supported district court conclusion
that, where plaintiff had "access to attorneys appointed
pursuant to [state law] who were ready and willing to advise
him at all times" but did not have access to an adequate
law library, "the legal assistance which was available
to [him] was a viable alternative to the requirement of a law
library"); Carter v. Mandel, 573 F.2d 172,
172-73 (4th Cir. 1978) (legal assistance provided for
Maryland prisoners "was constitutionally
sufficient" even though "[t]he state ha[d] not
established prison law libraries" because the state
"operate[d] a public defender program";; see
also Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351. Indeed, Warfield
acknowledges that "[i]t is well settled that prison
authorities must provide inmates with adequate law libraries
or assistance from trained individuals.”
Pl.'s Opp'n 3 (emphasis added).
couches his claim in the context of the need to "provide
for [his] defense." Compl. 3. And, he insists that,
regarding the required "adequate law libraries" or
professional assistance, "(n]either exist(s]."
Pl.'s Opp'n 3. Yet, his Complaint and Opposition
focus on "the law library" alone as a
"fundamental right for inmates," and the importance
of "direct access," Pl.'s Opp'n 8;
see Compl, assertions that the case law does not
support. Moreover, for each of the cases in his extensive
criminal history with docket entries since Warfield's
detention at Harford County Detention Center began, he has
had representation by a state public defender. See Nos.
12-K-17-001675, 2R00114291, 12-K-16-0071,, 12-K-16-001210,
12-K-18-000212, 12-K-18-000359, D-025-CR-18-000303.
Warfield has not challenged the adequacy of the
representation he has received in any of these cases, and the
state court dockets do not contain information suggesting
representation may be terminated or that Warfield has moved
for self-representation. At best, Warfield declares he is
anxious about his upcoming court appearances and expresses a
desire to further educate himself as to the legal issues in
order to assist court-appointed counsel with his defense.
These concerns do not demonstrate a violation of his due
process rights or rights under the First Amendment; thus,
Warfield is not entitled to the relief he seeks as a matter
of law. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 350-51;
Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828.
Defendants' dispositive motion is granted and the
Complaint dismissed by a separate order to follow. Further,
dismissal is with prejudice because, in light of the
assistance Warfield has received, amendment would be futile.
See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182(1962).
 The Clerk shall amend the docket to
reflect the full and proper spelling of ...