United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
DOUGLAS R. MANNING, Plaintiff,
WARDEN LARRY T. EDMONDS, Defendant.
GLEN E. CONRAD, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
prisoner civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
filed by Douglas R. Manning, a Virginia inmate proceeding
pro se, is now before the court on summary judgment.
His remaining claim contends that officials of the Virginia
Department of Corrections (“VDOC”) and Dillwyn
Correctional Center (“Dillwyn”) impaired his
ability to access the courts related to state habeas corpus
claims and possible claims under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”). After review of the
record, the court concludes that the motion for summary
judgment must be granted.
arrived at Dillwyn on December 21, 2015. Prior to that
transfer, he had been incarcerated at the Hampton Roads
Regional Jail from June 27, 2014 to December 21, 2015, and
before that, at the Chesapeake City Jail from August 27, 2013
to June 27, 2014. State court records available on the
internet indicate that Manning was sentenced on December 19,
2014, in the Chesapeake Circuit Court to concurrent terms of
twenty years, with thirteen years suspended, on a conviction
for aggravated sexual battery, and one year for a probation
security reasons, Dillwyn officials first assigned Manning to
the Reception Unit, designated for inmates newly transferred
to a VDOC facility. Such inmates are still undergoing their
intake and classification processes to determine their
security needs and assign them to appropriate security
levels. Part of that process is identifying any “keep
separates”-inmates who, for security reasons, are not
permitted to interact with each other. Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ.
J. Holman Aff. ¶ 9 and n. 1, ECF No. 52-1. Until
officials have classified an inmate according to such
security needs, allowing him to co-mingle and interact with
other inmates would create a security risk. For that reason,
inmates assigned to the Reception Unit cannot physically
access Dillwyn's law library. Manning alleges that he
received a security classification in February 2016. Mem.
Opp'n 6, ECF No. 54. Nevertheless, from December 21,
2015, through March 23, 2017, he remained in the Reception
Unit for security reasons because he was a probation
violator. See Am. Compl. 41, ECF No. 5; Mem. Opp'n 16,
ECF No. 54. In short, for this entire period, Manning
was denied physical access to the law library.
was not without access to legal materials during this time,
however. An inmate in the Reception Unit or the medical unit
who cannot go to the law library may file a request form for
materials from the law library-two statutes or legal cases at
a time. The materials will be photocopied and delivered to
him to use and then return, which permits him to request two
more items. Am. Compl. 41, ECF No. 5; Holman Aff. ¶ 10,
ECF No. 52-1. Manning found this system of obtaining legal
materials to be frustrating, because he did not know which
cases to request for general research of a topic. However,
Dillwyn inmates may also fill out a request to be scheduled
to meet with an institutional attorney who visits offenders
to provide legal consultation or information.
February 21, 2016, Manning submitted a request for a
“state habeas corpus form, ” but received only a
federal habeas corpus form. Am. Compl. 16, ECF No. 5. On
March 15, Manning filed requests asking the library staff
for: information about “the different kinds of
injunctions [and] how to file, ” “the statute of
limitations on filing a ‘state' habeas, ” a
“state habeas” form instead of the federal form
previously provided, two “civil injunction
(Emergency)” forms, two “standard motion form[s],
” and two “forma pauparis [sic] form[s].”
Id. at 19-20. He received only the federal
habeas form on March 17, 2016. On March 15, 2016,
Manning also requested “info pertaining to transfer
(assigned security levels vs. medical conditions, ”
classification of medically disabled prisoners, ” and
information about “prisoner medically disabled
protection from potential serious risk of injury.”
Id. at 21. He did not find the materials that
library staff provided to be helpful. Other legal materials
Manning requested were not available in the Dillwyn law
library. Staff suggested that Manning address
requests for such materials to the institutional attorney.
Despite Manning's problems obtaining all the legal
materials he wanted, on March 21, 2016, he filed an
“emergency medical injunction” and
“TRO” in Buckingham County Circuit
Court. Compl. 2-3, ECF No. 1.
this same time, Manning requested to meet with an
institutional attorney. He received an undated
“Institutional Attorney Receipt” indicating that
said he would be notified when the attorney arrived. The
document also provided a name and address where Manning could
write directly to the attorney for “urgent legal
assistance.” Am. Compl. 22, ECF No. 5 (emphasis in
original). On March 30, 2016, Manning met with Institutional
Attorney Marsden, who allegedly had no experience “in
civil law and did not even recognize the forms” the law
library had provided to Manning. Mem. Opp'n 8, ECF No.
54. The attorney took a written list of questions Manning had
prepared and promised to answer the questions by mail and
send “proper forms, ” but Manning never received
any such mailing. Id. Manning saw Attorney Marsden
again on approximately May 15, 2016. Id. at 8. The
attorney said he had sent Manning the items he had promised
during their prior visit and would mail them again, but
Manning never received any mailing from Marsden.
20, 2016, Manning wrote a request to the law library staff,
stating that he could not do necessary research without
accessing the law library and complaining that two
institutional attorney visits had not sufficiently helped
him. Am. Compl. 29, ECF No. 5. A law library official
forwarded one of Manning's requests to Mr. Oates, the
Chief of Housing and Programs, asking him to arrange for
Manning to access the law library himself, or to otherwise
help him obtain the materials he needed. Id. Mr.
Oates wrote to Manning, asking for more specific details
about what his research needs were. Id. at 30. On
May 27, 2016, Manning wrote back to Oates and stated that he
needed to do research for “claims for criminal and
civil cases [that he was] currently attempting to
file.” Id. at 31. Oates responded that a law
clerk would meet with Manning to address his concerns.
31, 2016, Manning filled out an offender request form
requesting the “ADA found at 42 U.S.C.,
12101-12213.” Id. at 32. Manning received only
the cover page of the statute and not its full contents.
April 7, 2016, Manning filed a “Motion to
Subpoena” in the Chesapeake Circuit Court, seeking to
obtain information about his criminal case there, No.
“14-233, ” which was his aggravated sexual
battery charge. Mem. Opp'n Attach., at 1, ECF No. 54-2.
He intended to use these materials to prepare his habeas
corpus claims, but the court never sent them.
of 2016, Manning met with Institutional Attorney Jody Fariss,
and explained his “legal needs and urgency [and she]
was “able to obtain parts of [his] criminal record so
[he] would have a start for researching to file a
post-conviction remedy.” Mem. Opp'n 12, ECF No. 54.
She also provided him with a list of materials to help
prisoners file civil rights lawsuits. Am. Compl. 35, ECF No.
Manning requested a Prisoner Self-Help Litigation Manual and
was told that he had been scheduled to see the institutional
attorney, who would bring the requested material. On about
June 8, 2016, Manning talked to another law library aid, who
stated his opinion that Manning needed physical access to the
law library and help “learning ‘basic
research' in order to successfully be able to adequately
present [his] cases to the courts.” Mem. Opp'n 10,
ECF No. 54.. Shortly thereafter, on about June 9, 2016,
Manning spoke to Mr. Oates, attempting “to inquire
concerning his legal needs and show him statute timelines for
post-conviction remedy.” Id. Manning allegedly
told Oates that he “only had approx. 150 days before
[his] statute of limitations ran out on [his] post conviction
remedy, [Oates] referred [him] to the Inst. Attorney.”
Mot. Am. 5, ECF No. 35. Manning also states that the deadline
for filing his state habeas corpus petition was December 19,
2016, and that on unspecified dates, he “sent a copy of
his ‘statute of limitation' to the Law Library and
also showed” it to his counselor. Mem. Opp'n 17,
ECF No. 54.
Manning saw Institutional Attorney Thomas on September 8,
2016, Thomas said “he was not made aware” that he
should bring Manning a Prisoner Self Help Manual, didn't
know what that was, and was not reimbursed for buying books
or making copies of materials for inmates. Am. Compl. 7, ECF
No. 5. Thomas asked Manning to ...