United States District Court, D. Columbia
ISAAC, Plaintiff, Pro se, WHITE DEER, PA.
CHARLES E. SAMUELS, JR., In his capacity as Director, Bureau
of Prisons, Defendant: Eric Joseph Young, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S.
ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC.
G. SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
proceeding pro se, sues Bureau of Prisons Director
Charles E. Samuels, Jr., for declaratory and injunctive
relief. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 24. Plaintiff claims
that the failure to provide him with Pennsylvania state legal
materials during his incarceration at a BOP facility deprived
him of his First Amendment right to access the courts to
challenge his state conviction. Plaintiff seeks a declaration
that his constitutional rights were violated and an
injunction compelling " defendant Samuels to implement
[sic] all 50 States of the Union criminal law, on all B.O.P.
computerized law libraries." Am. Compl. ¶ 15.
moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure or for summary judgment under Rule 56, ECF
No. 27. For the reasons explained below, the Court finds no
claim stated and, thus, grants defendant's motion to
" was convicted on September 21, 2007, of numerous
federal offenses arising out of his involvement in a violent
drug trafficking ring in Lancaster, Pennsylvania," and
he was sentenced in November 2008 to life imprisonment.
United States v. Isaac, 22 F.Supp.3d 426, 429 (E.D.
Pa. 2014). In July 2009, the Court of Common Pleas of Chester
County, Pennsylvania, sentenced plaintiff to life
imprisonment following his conviction for first-degree murder
in a case unrelated to the federal case. Id. n.2.
action arises from plaintiff's litigation of the state
conviction while in custody at the Federal Detention Center
(FDC) in Philadelphia. Plaintiff alleges that in May 2007,
following a preliminary hearing in state court, he went to
the law library at the FDC to research the death penalty
since the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had charged him with
capital murder. " To [p]laintiff's dismay and
consternation, none of the material in the law library
pertained to Pennsylvania criminal law, let alone any other
49 States." Am. Compl. at 2 ¶ 2.
Plaintiff further alleges that because he had no access to
state law materials, he was unable to assist in the
preparation of a motion filed in the state case on his behalf
in July 2008, and " to assist mitigation counsel with a
motion to squash the death penalty notice." Id.
¶ 3. As the state case progressed, plaintiff, upon
returning to FDC, made " verbal and written"
requests " to be provided with [Pennsylvania] criminal
law. Each time [he] was told by prison officials that the BOP
doesn't provide such law material." Id. at
3 ¶ 4.
his trial and conviction in state court, plaintiff was
returned to BOP's custody in July 2009 " with a life
sentence and a consecutive 20-40 years, which is consecutive
to the life plus 10 years he has under a federal
conviction." Id. ¶ 5. At the end of July
2009, plaintiff was ordered by the state court " to file
'A Concise Statement of Errors Complained of on
Appeal' under Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b)," which he alleges
he could not do because he was back in federal custody and
could not research the rule. Id. ¶ 6. "
[S]o [plaintiff] was compelled to file a generalized State of
Errors or risk losing his right to appeal." Id.
August 2010, plaintiff, by counsel, filed a direct appeal,
but plaintiff " had no input on [the] brief . . . since
he didn't have access to State criminal law."
Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff also alleges that he could
not petition for new appointed counsel " due to not
having [Pennsylvania] case law for authority."
Id. The Superior Court denied plaintiff's direct
appeal on February 29, 2012, and the state Supreme Court
denied his petition for review on August 13, 2012.
Id. ¶ 8.