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Case Name Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative v. Hogan CJ-MD-0004
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-1021 ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On April 6, 2016, the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization devoted to furthering prisoners' rights, and three juveniles sentenced to life in prison, filed this class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland against Governor Larry Hogan and ... read more >
On April 6, 2016, the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization devoted to furthering prisoners' rights, and three juveniles sentenced to life in prison, filed this class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland against Governor Larry Hogan and three other state officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs moved for declaratory and injunctive relief regarding Maryland’s parole system for exacting disproportionate punishment. Specifically, the plaintiffs requested a declaration that Maryland's statutory scheme requiring judges to impose life sentences without taking a defendant's youth into account to be unconstitutional,
remedy the state's failure to provide a meaningful opportunity for release for juveniles in prison for life, and provide individual relief for the three plaintiffs based on violations of the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment and Article 25 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. The plaintiffs also argued that the Governor's clemency was unconstitutional because it was exclusive for prisoners confined for life and devoid of any standards.

On May 26, 2016, the families of the victims of the three plaintiffs, as well as the Maryland Crime Victim Resource Center, filed a motion to intervene in the suit as defendants based on Article 47 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights as well as a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint. The intervenors argued that they should be allowed to intervene in order to assert their rights to be notified of and participate in any proceedings related to defendants who had injured them. They also argued that amici status was insufficient. On June 13, the defendants filed a motion taking no position on the victims' requests but noting that it did not need their assistance to put up a sufficient defense.

On July 8, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or alternatively, a motion for summary judgment. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim was barred by the U.S. Supreme Court's rule in Heck v. Humphrey because a ruling in their favor would necessarily conclude that their life sentences were invalid. Further, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs failed to make a plausible claim upon which relief could be granted under the Eighth Amendment or Fourteenth Amendments and that their complaint in fact showed that they were receiving meaningful opportunities for release. Third, in the alternative, the defendants argued that summary judgment was proper because the plaintiffs had the opportunity to participate in the parole process and in fact did receive parole. Finally, they argued that the court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction because the prisoners did not exhaust their rights under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

On August 30, 2016, Judge Hollander denied the victim families' motion to intervene, concluding the families had no right under Maryland law to intervene in the suit. The families had no protectable interest to gain or lose as a result of the proceedings and no rights at stake. Additionally, the families did not show that the State could not protect their interests nor that their objectives were substantially different from the State's. Judge Hollander also refused to grant permissive intervention, concluding that it would cause significant burdens to the litigation. Instead, she granted the families amicus status. 316 F.R.D. 106.

On December 7, 2016, Judge Hollander sent a memorandum to the parties, asking them to submit briefs on the impact of a recently decided 4th Circuit case on the defendants' motion to dismiss. LeBlanc v. Mathena, 2016 WL 6652438 (4th Cir. 2016) held that Virginia's geriatric release program provided "no meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation" because it had few governing standards. Under Virginia's system, the State Parole Board could deny geriatric release for any reason "without considering a juvenile's maturity and rehabilitation." The parties subsequently provided updated memoranda.

On December 20, 2016, the three named plaintiffs moved for a writ of habeas corpus, requesting that they be present at oral argument on January 4, 2017, given that they faced life imprisonment if the court were to dismiss the case against them. The defendants did not oppose the motion and Judge Hollander granted the writs.

On February 3, 2017, Judge Hollander issued her decision, denying plaintiffs' motion to strike and granting in part and denying in part the defendants' motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs had moved to strike the amici's filings for improperly asserting defenses not raised by the defendants. Judge Hollander denied the motion to strike but refused to consider any of the novel arguments raised by the amici. On the motion for summary judgment, Judge Hollander held that summary judgment was inappropriate before discovery and that the plaintiffs were entitled to discovery on their claims prior to such point. 2017 WL 467731.

Under the defendant’s motion to dismiss, Judge Hollander held that plaintiffs' challenge to Maryland's parole system was cognizable under § 1983 because it did not challenge their sentences or convictions themselves. However, she also concluded that the plaintiffs' did not make a plausible claim that Maryland's parole system violated Article 25 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. On the statute of limitations defense and administrative exhaustion claims, Judge Hollander held that the plaintiffs' complaint was not time-barred nor exhausted.

Finally, on the motion to dismiss, Judge Hollander concluded that the Supreme Court's decisions in Miller, Graham, and Montgomery applied to juvenile prisoners sentenced to life without parole. Since the governor's clemency authority lacked any clear standards and since parole was almost never granted to juvenile lifers, the plaintiffs stated a plausible claim that they had no meaningful opportunity for release, in violation of the Eighth Amendment and Article 25 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. As such, the plaintiffs "sufficiently alleged that Maryland’s parole system operates as a system of executive clemency, in which opportunities for release are 'remote,' rather than a true parole scheme in which opportunities for release are 'meaningful' and 'realistic,' as required in Graham."

Judge Hollander then directed the defendants to answer the complaint, which they did on February 28, 2017.

On March 30, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite for settlement. On August 1, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge. J. Mark Coulson for discovery and related scheduling. From March 30 to October 6, the parties engaged in discovery and litigation surrounding the terms of discovery. On September 27, 2017, Judge Coulson issued an order granting in part and denying in part the plaintiffs' motion to compel. Plaintiffs' were seeking "risk assessment" documents of inmates in efforts to better understand the parole process. Defendants opposed this due to confidentiality concerns for inmates not related to this matter. Judge Coulson allowed for six "risk assessment" reports be given to the plaintiffs in order to protect confidentiality while also allowing the plaintiffs some degree of information to better understand the process. 2017 WL 4280779.

The parties were engaged in settlement negotiations until negotiations fell apart in June of 2018. On June 28, 2018, plaintiffs moved for a partial judgment on the pleadings and a permanent injunction. The motion alleged that the role of the Governor in Maryland's parole system was unconstitutional in that sole authority to parole was given to the Governor. Furthermore, the parole system failed to make a distinction for juveniles, which the Supreme Court had held are entitled to an opportunity to demonstrate maturity and rehabilitation. The permanent injunction would stipulate to parole boards that they consider juvenile lifers for parole in their normal course, without the approval or review of the Governor.

On October 17, 2018, Judge Coulson issued a memorandum opinion concerning a discovery dispute. The defendants had sought a protective order regarding confidential information, namely inmate records, the tests administered in the parole process, and personnel records of psychologists who conduct those tests. Judge Coulson approved the protective order for the inmates records and denied it for the tests and personnel records as long as the personnel records had redacted identifying information. 2018 WL 5026369. Judge Coulson issued another order on October 25, 2018, limiting plaintiffs' access to only records concerning the actions of the Governor when Governor Hogan was in office. 2018 WL 5026369.

Judge Coulson again issued a memorandum order concerning a discovery dispute on July 15, 2019. Plaintiffs had moved for reconsideration of the limit on risk assessment records of juveniles. Judge Coulson denied the motion, asserting that the plaintiffs were simply trying to relitigate a ruling. 2019 WL 3081196.

As of January 31, 2020, the parties were still engaged in discovery. The case is ongoing.

Craig Streit - 03/27/2017
Chelsea Rinnig - 01/30/2018
Cedar Hobbs - 01/31/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Disciplinary procedures
Good time
Grievance Procedures
Juveniles
Parole grant/revocation
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) David Blumberg
Dayena M. Corcoran
Governor Larry Hogan
Stephen Moyer
Plaintiff Description The Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping prisoners, and three prisoners sentenced to life in prison based on homicides committed as juveniles.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 04/06/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing CJ-VA-0003 : LeBlanc v. Mathena (E.D. Va.)
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:16-cv-1021 (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declarator Relief, Injunctive Relief, and Attorney's Fees [ECF# 1]
CJ-MD-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/06/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 23]
CJ-MD-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/08/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 32] (316 F.R.D. 106) (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 33] (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum to Counsel [ECF# 48] (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Consent Motion for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 51]
CJ-MD-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Plaintiffs' Consent Motion for Writs of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 52] (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 65] (2017 WL 467731) (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 66] (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Answer to Complaint [ECF# 69]
CJ-MD-0004-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 88] (2017 WL 4280779) (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/27/2017
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 184] (2018 WL 5026369) (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 188] (2018 WL 5295825) (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/25/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 215] (2019 WL 3081196) (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/15/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Coulson, J. Mark Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-0011 | CJ-MD-0004-0012 | CJ-MD-0004-0013 | CJ-MD-0004-0014
Hollander, Ellen Lipton (D. Md.) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-0003 | CJ-MD-0004-0004 | CJ-MD-0004-0005 | CJ-MD-0004-0007 | CJ-MD-0004-0008 | CJ-MD-0004-0009 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Borja, Mary E (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Criss, Ashley−Anne Lopez (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Fleishman, Barry J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-0001 | CJ-MD-0004-0006 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Jeon, Deborah A. (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-0001 | CJ-MD-0004-0006 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Kumar, Sonia (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-0001 | CJ-MD-0004-0006 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Lemley, Charles C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Merritt, Alexander Haywood (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Petel, George Emil (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Simpson, Richard A (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Ward, Gary Scott (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Arnquist, Lisa O Mara (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Baron, Susan Howe (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Bernhardt, Julia Doyle (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-0002 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Doyle, Michael O Connor (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-0002 | CJ-MD-0004-0010 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Frosh, Brian E. (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-0010
Kelley, Edward John (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Sullivan, Steven M. (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-0002 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Butler, Russell Paul (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Stone, Victor D. (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Sullam, Jennifer Malia (Maryland) show/hide docs
CJ-MD-0004-9000

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