Spearman v. Epps et al
ORDER. Signed by District Judge Debra M. Brown on 5/12/17. (jtm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
DUANE W. SPEARMAN
CHRISTOPHER B. EPPS, et al.
On March 24, 2016, the Court denied without prejudice Defendants’ motion for summary
judgment, ordering the parties to “submit supplemental briefs within sixty (60) days … on the sole
issue raised in this case,” specifically, whether the Mississippi Department of Corrections
(“MDOC”) “is required to provide Spearman with legal materials and assistance necessary to
challenge his Arkansas convictions when the Arkansas convictions occurred while Spearman was
confined to a MDOC facility based on a Mississippi conviction.” Doc. #34 at 2, 5. In such
supplemental briefing, the Court ordered the parties to focus on, among other points, whether
Spearman “suffered prejudice to his legal position due to the acts, or failure to act, of Defendants.”
Id. at 5.
On May 18, 2016, Defendants responded with additional briefing but Spearman did not.
Doc. #37. In their additional briefing, for the first time, Defendants, citing Spearman’s legal
assistance request (attached to the supplement), claimed that Spearman’s “first request for assistance
from the Inmate Legal Assistance Program ... following the Arkansas Supreme Court’s affirmation of
his conviction was made on or about May 27, 2014, some nine (9) months after the expiration of his
deadline.” Doc. #37 at 2; Doc. #37-4. From the supplemental brief and attached documents, it
appears Spearman first requested access to Arkansas legal authority well after the time under
Arkansas law to file a collateral attack on his Arkansas conviction. This would seem to compel a
finding that Spearman did not suffer legal prejudice from denial of the legal materials. Defendants,
however, have not filed another summary judgment motion asserting such as grounds.
Under Rule 56(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[a]fter giving notice and a
reasonable time to respond, the court may … consider summary judgment on its own after
identifying for the parties material facts that may not be genuinely in dispute.”
Accordingly, Spearman is ORDERED, within fourteen (14) days of the issuance of this
order, to file a supplemental brief as ordered in the Court’s March 24, 2016, order. Such
supplemental brief shall address the timeliness of his request for Arkansas legal authority in relation
to his deadline to file for collateral relief from his Arkansas conviction. Should Spearman fail to
comply with this direction, his complaint will be subject to dismissal with prejudice for failure to
prosecute and for failure to obey a Court order. Alternatively, if Spearman no longer wishes to
proceed with this action, he must move the Court within the same 14-day time period to dismiss it.
SO ORDERED, this 12th day of May, 2017.
/s/ Debra M. Brown
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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