Hall v. Stouffer
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER Denying 11 Motion for Summary Judgment; Directing Clerk to take all necessary steps to locate a member of the Maryland Bar who is a member of this court to represent Mr. Hall, pro bono. Signed by Judge William M Nickerson on 2/16/2017. (c/m 2/16/17 bas, Deputy Clerk).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
DAVID WAYNE HALL,
CIVIL ACTION NO. WMN-15-1008
J. MICHAEL STOUFFER,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Pending is a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgement, filed on
behalf of defendant J. Michael Stouffer. ECF 11. Plaintiff David Wayne Hall has responded.
ECF 13. Upon review of papers and exhibits filed, the court finds an oral hearing in this matter
unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, the dispositive
motion will be denied and counsel shall be appointed for Hall.
On April 9, 2015, Hall, a Maryland inmate, currently incarcerated in the Augusta
Correctional Center in Craigsville, Virginia, filed a self-represented complaint, alleging that he
has been denied access to Maryland legal materials. Specifically, Hall states that he is a Maryland
state prisoner who has been housed within the Virginia Department of Corrections since October
20, 1999, pursuant to an Interstate Corrections Compact (“ICC”). Hall states that he has been
confined at the Augusta Correctional Center since May 25, 2012.
Hall was convicted in the Circuit Court Baltimore County of several felonies in 1991. He
was sentenced in 1992 to a life term of incarceration, plus fifteen years and committed to the
custody of the Maryland Division of Correction. Subsequently, in exchange for Hall’s testimony
regarding other matters, the State of Maryland promised Hall that he would not be housed at the
same institution as two named defendants; would be placed in a medium security prison on long
term or permanent protective custody; would be assigned a single cell; would receive all
privileges, benefits and accommodations as other general population inmates and Assistant
State’s Attorney for Anne Arundel County John LeCornu would make part of “the official
record” a letter detailing Hall’s extensive assistance, the hardship he suffered as state’s witness,
with the intent that the letter would be viewed favorably by the Maryland Parole Commission.
Hall maintains that the State of Maryland has failed to honor its commitment other than LeCorno
writing a letter which has become part of the “official record.”
Hall states that he wishes to challenge his state criminal convictions and Maryland’s
parole procedures. He indicates that he is parole eligible and notes that he had his first parole
hearing in July of 2006 and has had parole reviews in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014. He further
indicates that he wishes to challenge in court Maryland’s parole procedures and the manner in
which they are applied to him. Additionally, he states that he seeks to challenge his Maryland
criminal conviction “via a petition for writ of habeas corpus, a motion to vacate, or by such other
vehicle as Maryland law may provide.” In order to mount those challenges, Hall avers, and the
record supports, that he has repeatedly attempted to obtain access to Maryland laws, policies, and
procedures, but to no avail. Those efforts included unsuccessful submissions to the Legal
Assistance to State Institutions (LASI) service, the Maryland Attorney General, the Maryland
Office of the Public Defendant, and Virginia’s Institutional Attorney.
Defendant has previously filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary
judgment. ECF 4. In that motion, Defendant asserted, inter alia, that ICC inmates are provided a
copy of a “handbook for Maryland inmates housed out of state under the ICC and
intergovernmental agreements.” that explains how inmates are to request legal materials.
Defendant maintained that Hall failed to utilize those procedures. Hall, however, denied ever
receiving the handbook. Defendant also asserted that Hall failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies prior to bringing this action and pointed to the same handbook that Hall asserts he never
received as the means through which inmates were informed about the requisite grievance
The Court denied that motion, without prejudice, subject to renewal and supplementation.
ECF 8. Specifically, the Court required Defendant to address, at a minimum, the following:
1. Whether Hall actually received the “handbook for Maryland inmates housed out of state
under the ICC and intergovernmental agreements;”
2. Provide any documentation indicating Hall’s receipt of the handbook;
3. Whether Hall’s efforts to grieve his lack of legal materials through Virginia satisfied the
exhaustion requirement; and
4. Provide all records concerning Hall’s LASI requests and any responses thereto.
Id. at 3.
The Court finds that Defendant’s supplemented motion is still insufficient to support the
entry of summary judgment as there remain significant disputes of material fact. As to the
handbook, Defendant acknowledges that no documentation has been located to show that Hall
received it. ECF 11-1 at 2. Despite that acknowledgment, Defendant continues to point to the
handbook to support the argument that Plaintiff was aware of and understood the process for
obtaining access to Maryland legal materials and that he was made aware of the appropriate
grievance procedures. Id. at 13, 23. Regarding responses to Hall’s LASI requests, Erica Grover,
the Policies and Procedures Manager for Maryland Correctional Enterprises, the entity the
responds to inmate requests for legal materials, stated that she was unable to locate any LASI
requests submitted by Hall or any response thereto. Id. at 3.
Responses to Hall’s requests for legal materials that are in the record demonstrate a lack of
any real assistance. For example, in response to Hall’s request for several specific Maryland
Rules, a correspondence from LASI to Hall dated November 9, 2010, stated in its entirety, “[y]ou
requested MD Rule 2-231 through 2-241, 2-501 through 2-551, 2-601 through 2-652, 3-401
through 3-431 we cannot violate copyright laws by photocopying an entire book for you. Thank
you.” ECF 4-2 at 28. In Defendant’s first motion, Defendant represented that “LASI will send
the inmate up to 100 pages of legal documents per request form. If the request is beyond the
maximum pages allowed, the librarian will ask the inmate to narrow the search rather than
provide the entire set of rules.” In the pending motion, Defendant is critical of Hall for not
submitting a narrower request after “LASI denied this voluminous request.” ECF 11-1 at 15.
LASI’s November 9, 2010, response, however, neither informed Hall of any100 page limitation
nor did it suggest that he should submit a narrower request. The Court also notes that fulfilling
this “voluminous request” would have involved the copying of less than 50 pages of the Maryland
Defendant also suggests that Hall was provided meaningful access to the courts through
representation from the Office of the Public Defender. While Hall contacted the Office of the
Public Defender and received assurances that it would provide him assistance, the record does not
demonstrate that any actual assistance was given. While the Office of the Public Defender
informed Hall of some of the Maryland rules and statutes relevant to the legal challenges Hall
wished to mount, there is nothing in the record that demonstrates that the Office actually provided
Hall with any of those legal materials.
As for Hall’s exhaustion of administrative remedies, Hall was told that, as an inmate
housed in Virginia under the ICC agreement, he was required to utilize Virginia’s grievance
process. Hall submitted grievances through several levels of the Virginia grievance procedures
and, at each level, was told to contact Maryland. The Court is satisfied that Hall has exhausted
the available administrative remedies.
On the current record, it appears that Hall has been prevented from challenging his state
court conviction, actions relevant to his parole status, as well as the validity of his ICC transfer.
Given Hall’s pro se status and what appears to be a wholesale denial of access to Maryland legal
materials, the Court cannot say on the record before it whether Hall could articulate a nonfrivolous claim in regard to any actual injury he suffered by being denied the opportunity to
meaningfully pursue these challenges. Hall is hampered in articulating the underlying challenges
he would mount because of his lack of access to Maryland legal materials. Thus, he is in a
“Catch-22” in terms of advancing his access to court claim and fully articulating any actual injury
suffered. As such, summary judgment shall be denied and counsel shall be appointed to assist
Accordingly, IT IS this 16th day of February, 2017, by the United States District Court for
the District of Maryland, ORDERED that:
1. Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF 11) IS DENIED;
2. The Clerk IS DIRECTED to take all necessary steps to locate a member of the
Maryland Bar who is a member of this court to represent Mr. Hall, pro bono, in the
3. A copy of this Memorandum and Order SHALL BE PROVIDED to David
Ciambruschini to facilitate appointment of counsel;
4. Appointed counsel SHALL PROMPTLY review the pleadings, amend the complaint
as appropriate, contact opposing counsel regarding the duration of discovery, and file
a status report within 45 days of appointment;
5. Within 30 days of the date appointed counsel files a status report, the parties SHALL
Counsel SHALL FILE a status report at the time discovery is commenced advising
of the expected date of completion of discovery, the probability of settlement, and
the expected duration of trial; and
The Clerk SHALL TRANSMIT a copy of this Memorandum and Order to Mr. Hall
and counsel of record.
William M. Nickerson
Senior United States District Judge
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