A Good Day for Justice
Today is a good day for justice. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ensured that there will be consequences for those who violated my client’s constitutional rights. Rarely do we hear about the atrocities that occur inside of the prisons, and even more rarely do we see federal juries and federal courts of appeals vindicate those rights violations.
The case stems from a 2013 prison beating in which three correctional officers, on direct orders from the prison administrators, attacked 7 prisoners for their perceived involvement in a previous altercation with another correctional officer. My client, Kevin Younger, was one of those seven victims, however, he actually tried to help the correctional officer during that previous altercation (and likely saved the CO’s life), risking his own life in the process. Truly, no good deed goes unpunished. Mr. Younger’s act of courage and humanity was rewarded with a brutal attack by those tasked with ensuring his safety, beating him within an inch of his life, and leaving him with life-threatening injuries, permanent disabilities, false charges, and six months of solitary confinement. The State of Maryland ultimately convicted the three correctional officer assailants, and the warden was forced to resign.
Mr. Younger filed separate actions against the State of Maryland (24-C-17-004752, Cir. Ct. Balt. City), and against the individual bad actors, including the former warden and his third in command (No. 1:16-cv-03269-RDB, D. Md.). In June 2019, a state jury returned a $2.7 million verdict against the State of Maryland. In February 2020, a federal jury returned a $700,000 verdict against the individual bad actors. The warden and his lieutenant (Dupree) appealed.
Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Dupree’s appeal. A link to the opinion is here: https://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/216423.U.pdf.
Troublingly, the State knew from the outset that its employees perpetrated this attack (through internal affairs investigations, and criminal proceedings), and that Mr. Younger had actually attempted to save (not attack) the correctional officer. However, rather than providing any relief to Mr. Younger (or even just apologizing!), the State instead spent six years in litigation, in two venues, with at least 10 different lawyers, attacking and discrediting Mr. Younger personally, and trying to dismiss his claims at every opportunity—even after two juries found that the State and its agents violated Mr. Younger’s fundamental constitutional rights.
This case represents everything that is wrong, and right with our judicial system. It is wrong that an individual, like Mr. Younger, who is savagely beaten by those responsible for his safety should suffer the indignity of being called a liar, who is just an “old convict”, and who deserves to be thrown out of court—by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, the agency who should be championing, not destroying, individual constitutional rights. Candidly, OAG’s position throughout this litigation has been embarrassing, mostly frivolous, and indefensible. However, justice ultimately prevailed, and the federal judiciary breathed new life into the promise that all people are equal under the law.