University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative et al v. Hogan et al CJ-MD-0004
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-1021 ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
On April 6, 2016, the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization devoted to furthering prisoners' rights, and three juveniles sentenced to life in prison, filed this class action lawsuit against Governor Larry Hogan and three other state officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, ... read more >
On April 6, 2016, the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization devoted to furthering prisoners' rights, and three juveniles sentenced to life in prison, filed this class action lawsuit against Governor Larry Hogan and three other state officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging Maryland's parole system for exacting disproportionate punishment. They moved for declaratory and injunctive relief. 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, to remedy the state's failure to provide a meaningful opportunity for release for juveniles in prison for life, and for 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 noted 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 shows 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.

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. The Fourth Circuit case, 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" since 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 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.

Under the defendant's motion to dismiss, Judge Hollander held that plaintiffs' challenge to Maryland's parole system was cognizable under § 1983 since 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 plaintiffs' complaint was not time-barred nor exhausted.

Finally, on the 12(b)(6) 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, 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. The parties are now beginning discovery.





Craig Streit - 03/27/2017


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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
Good time
Juveniles
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.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Philadelphia Forfeiture
http://ij.org/case/philadelphia-forfeiture/
Date: Aug. 11, 2014
By: Institute for Justice (Institute for Justice)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:16-cv-1021 (D. Md.)
CJ-MD-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2017
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]
Judges Hollander, Ellen Lipton (D. Md.)
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)
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Fleishman, Barry J. (District of Columbia)
CJ-MD-0004-0001 | CJ-MD-0004-0006 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Jeon, Deborah A. (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-0001 | CJ-MD-0004-0006 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Kumar, Sonia (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-0001 | CJ-MD-0004-0006 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Merritt, Alexander Haywood (District of Columbia)
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Simpson, Richard A (District of Columbia)
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Baron, Susan Howe (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Bernhardt, Julia Doyle (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-0002 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Doyle, Michael O Connor (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-0002 | CJ-MD-0004-0010 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Frosh, Brian E. (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-0010
Sullivan, Steven M. (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-0002 | CJ-MD-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Butler, Russell Paul (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Stone, Victor D. (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-9000
Sullam, Jennifer Malia (Maryland)
CJ-MD-0004-9000

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