Hogan v. Office of the States Attorney for Carroll County et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Levi Russell, III on 9/22/2017. (c/m 9/22/17)(krs, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
STEVEN WILLIAM HOGAN,
OFFICE OF THE STATES ATTORNEY
FOR CARROLL COUNTY, et al.,
Civil Action No. GLR-17-990
In response to this Court’s April 19, 2017 Order directing Hogan to supplement
his claims regarding the conditions of his confinement in the Carroll County Detention
Center, Hogan filed a Supplemental Complaint using a “Motion” form designed for use
in Maryland state courts. (ECF No. 4). In Hogan’s Supplemental Complaint, he alleges
that Dr. Herman,1 a psychiatrist at Carroll County Detention Center, violated his
constitutional rights. For the reasons that follow, the Complaint as supplemented must be
Hogan states that after a noose was found in his cell, which he claims other
inmates planted there, he was put on suicide watch where he was forced to remain in a
cell with a bright light burning twenty-four hours a day. (Suppl. Comp. at 6, ECF No. 4).
He claims that if a psychiatrist other than Dr. Herman met with him and recommended
his removal from suicide watch, Dr. Herman would override it. (Id.). Hogan further
The Clerk will be directed to add Dr. Herman as a Defendant on the docket. Hogan
does not provide Dr. Herman’s first name.
claims that Dr. Herman never talked to him about suicidal thoughts, but only discussed
matters related to his criminal case when meeting with Hogan. (Id.). Hogan asked a
member of the treatment team “in confidence” how to get off of suicide watch, and he
claims he was told that he needed to “refuse to meet with [Dr.] Herman.” (Id.). Hogan
states that he took this advice and was released from suicide watch on April 16, 2014
“after five weeks on suicide watch conditions.” (Id.). Hogan asserts, in a conclusory
fashion, that long-term suicide watch is a form of torture used on prisoners of war. (Id.).
The constitutional protections afforded a pretrial detainee as provided by the
Fourteenth Amendment are co-extensive with those provided by the Eighth Amendment.
See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979). Due process rights of a pretrial detainee
are at least as great as the Eighth Amendment protections available to the convicted
prisoner. Hill v. Nicodemus, 979 F.2d 987, 991 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing Martin v. Gentile,
849 F.2d 863, 870 (4th Cir. 1988)); see also Riley v. Dorton, 115 F.3d 1159, 1167 (4th
Cir. 1997) (pretrial detainee’s Fourteenth Amendment right with respect to excessive
force is similar to prisoner’s Eighth Amendment right; both require more than de
Because due process proscribes punishment of a detainee before proper
adjudication of guilt, the inquiry with respect to the conditions alleged is whether or not
those conditions amount to punishment of the pretrial detainee. Bell, 441 U.S. at 535.
“[N]ot every inconvenience that is encountered during pre-trial detention amounts to
punishment in the constitutional sense.” Martin, 849 F.2d at 870. A particular restriction
or condition of confinement amounts to unconstitutional punishment in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment if it is imposed by prison officials with the express intent to
punish or it is not reasonably related to a legitimate, nonpunitive goal. Bell, 441 U.S. at
538–39 (restrictions or conditions that are arbitrary or purposeless may be considered
punishment). In determining whether the challenged conditions amount to punishment, it
is not the province of this Court to determine how a particular prison might be more
beneficently operated; the expertise of prison officials must be given its due deference.
See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 482 (1995).
Here, Hogan was found in possession of a noose, a common tool used to commit
suicide. A legitimate, nonpunitive goal exists where, as here, there is an objective reason
for concern that a detainee may be contemplating self-harm. Taking no action in light of
the discovery of the noose puts both psychiatric staff and correctional staff at risk for
civil liability. As a prisoner, Hogan “is entitled to psychological or psychiatric treatment
if a physician or other health care provider, exercising ordinary skill and care at the time
of the observation, concludes with reasonable medical certainty (1) that the prisoner’s
symptoms evidence a serious disease or injury; (2) that such disease or injury is curable
or may be substantially alleviated; and (3) that the potential for harm to the prisoner by
reason of delay or the denial of care would be substantial.” Bowring v. Goodwin, 551
F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1977). Hogan’s disagreement with Dr. Herman’s decisions to keep
him on suicide watch is not a basis for finding a constitutional rights violation. See
Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 849 (4th Cir.1985) (disagreements between inmate and
doctor regarding care does not state a constitutional claim).
Hogan’s Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted as to
the sole remaining Defendant, Dr. Herman.
Accordingly, the Complaint will be
dismissed. A separate Order which follows,
Entered this 22nd day of September, 2017.
George L. Russell, III
United States District Judge
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