United States District Court, D. Maryland
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge
November 27, 2019, plaintiff Isaac Gray filed the
above-captioned civil rights complaint along with motions to
proceed in forma pauperis, for appointment of counsel, and
for summary judgment. (ECF 1-ECF 4). On December 4, 2019,
Gray filed a supplement to the complaint. (ECF 5). Because he
appears indigent, Gray's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis (ECF 2) shall be granted. The remaining motions
shall be denied as the complaint must be dismissed.
captioned as a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
it is clear the complaint is simply Gray's attempt to
re-hash the matters raised in a prior petition for writ of
habeas corpus. The original complaint consists of documents
Gray appears to have obtained through a Freedom of
Information Act request (ECF 1), while the motion for summary
judgment and the supplement raise arguments regarding the
validity of the decision issued in Gray's post-conviction
case by the Circuit Court for Howard County. (ECF 4 and 5).
Gray asserts that the state court "refused to adhere to
the 'mandatory requirement' of Criminal Law §
3-303(e)" providing 30 days' notice before trial
when the State intends to seek a sentence of 25 years or more
(ECF 5 at 1); that the failure to provide that notice makes
his 1985 sentence of natural life illegal (id. at
2); that the state court failed to consider his
Brady claim (id.); that the state court
improperly denied his motion to correct illegal sentence when
it simply stated he should have raised it previously
(id. at 3); that the State's Attorney Michael
Rexroad and F.B.I, agent Michael Malone engaged in an
"extra-judicial conspiracy to convict him based on
perjured testimony" (id. at 4); and that due to
the misconduct of Rexroad and Malone, absolute immunity is
unavailable as a defense (id. at 4-8). The relief
sought by Gray is appointment of counsel, an evidentiary
hearing, unspecified damages, and a new sentencing
proceeding. (Id. at 9-10).
Gray v. Stouffer, et al., Civil Action CCB-15-29 (D.
Md. 2016) ("Gray I”), this court denied
Gray's petition for writ of habeas corpus in an
eighteen-page opinion issued on October 28, 2016.
(Id., ECF 44). Gray raised issues regarding hair
identification, 'conspiracy, perjured testimony by the
state's witness, and actual innocence. (Id.).
This court denied the petition after finding no error in the
state court's analysis of the claims raised, given the
evidence produced at trial which indicated Gray's guilt
of the offense and two subsequent instances of Gray admitting
his guilt in writing. Gray appealed this court's decision
to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (id., ECF 46)
and this court's decision was affirmed (id., ECF
49, ECF 50).
the exception of Gray's general, unspecified request for
monetary damages, the pending complaint concerns the matters
already considered by this court in the context of Gray
I. Thus the complaint is, in all relevant respects, a
successive petition for writ of habeas corpus, requiring its
dismissal. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2244, a petitioner may only
file a second or successive habeas corpus petition if he has
first moved the appropriate circuit court for an order
authorizing the district court to consider his application.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3); Felker v.
Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 664 (1996). The pending complaint,
to the extent it seeks review of the validity of Gray's
conviction and sentence, is a successive petition. Before
this court may consider it, the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit must enter an order
authorizing the court to do so.See 28 U.S.C. §
2244(b)(3)(A); see also In re Vial, 115 F.3d 1192,
1197-98 (4th Cir. 1997). Because it does not appear that Gray
has complied with this "gatekeeper" provision, this
complaint, to the extent it is actually an application for
habeas corpus relief, must be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
extent that the complaint may be construed as one
appropriately filed under § 1983, the claims asserted
are barred by the holding in Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) (42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims
impugning the legality of criminal conviction not cognizable
unless conviction is reversed). Gray may not raise claims
against unspecified defendants for monetary damages where proof
of the claims would impact on the validity of his criminal
conviction. It is clear that the claims asserted are exactly
the sort of claims envisioned by Heck's
prohibitive language. The complaint shall therefore be
dismissed without prejudice by separate order which follows.
The United States Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit has set forth instructions for the filing
of a "motion" to obtain the aforementioned
authorization order. The procedural requirements and
deadlines for filing the "motion" are extensive.
Consequently, this court has attached hereto a packet of
instructions promulgated by the Fourth Circuit which
addresses the comprehensive procedure to be followed should
petitioner wish to seek authorization to file a successive
petition. It is to be emphasized that petitioner must file
the "motion" with the Fourth Circuit and obtain
authorization to file his successive petition before this
court may examine his claims.
The only named defendant in the
complaint is the Attorney General for the State of Maryland.
Gray makes no specific allegation ...