E-Alerts & Press Releases

PJC Brief Supports Prisoner Desperately Trying to Make a Claim

On August 16, 2007, the PJC filed a brief in the Court of Special Appeals on behalf of Curtis Brown, a former inmate, in a case where Mr. Brown was denied his day in court. Mr. Brown, while incarcerated, was injured when an industrial fan fell and hit him in the head while he was asleep. He attempted to comply with the Department of Public Safety’s grievance procedures but was prevented from doing so when the prison failed to respond to his complaint. Of particular concern is the fact that these procedures, applicable to all prisoners in Maryland’s state-run prisons and governing a broad array of complaints, have not been adopted in compliance with state law. Mr. Brown again tried to resolve the claim without litigation; he gave notice to the State by filing a notice of his tort claim. When the State again failed to respond, thereby denying his request, Mr. Brown sought relief in the only remaining venue – a court. The trial court refused to consider the merits of Mr. Brown’s claim. The PJC is representing Mr. Brown on appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and is arguing that Mr. Brown did indeed attempt to exhaust his administrative remedies, as is required by the Prison Litigation Act, and the prison’s failure to respond should not preclude him from having access to a court to resolve his claim. The brief, written by PJC attorney Wendy Hess, also challenges the validity of the Division of Correction administrative procedures, applicable to approximately 25,000 prisoners in Maryland, because they have not been adopted in compliance with the State Administrative Procedures Act. They lack transparency in that they were not adopted by a routine process, allowing the public an opportunity to comment, and they are not publicly available.

« Back