Young v. Burleigh Morton Detention Center, 011221 NDSC, 20200153

Docket Nº20200153
Opinion JudgeMCEVERS, JUSTICE
Party NameLaron Young, Plaintiff and Appellant v. Burleigh Morton Detention Center, Defendant and Appellee and Reliance Telephone Systems, Defendant
AttorneyLaron Young, Devils Lake, ND, plaintiff and appellant; submitted on brief. Lawrence E. King and Alyssa L. Lovas, Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellee; submitted on brief.
Judge PanelJon J. Jensen, C.J., Gerald W.VandeWalle, Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Jerod E. Tufte
Case DateJanuary 12, 2021
CourtSupreme Court of North Dakota

2021 ND 8

Laron Young, Plaintiff and Appellant

v.

Burleigh Morton Detention Center, Defendant and Appellee

and

Reliance Telephone Systems, Defendant

No. 20200153

Supreme Court of North Dakota

January 12, 2021

Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable David E. Reich, Judge.

Laron Young, Devils Lake, ND, plaintiff and appellant; submitted on brief.

Lawrence E. King and Alyssa L. Lovas, Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellee; submitted on brief.

OPINION

MCEVERS, JUSTICE

[¶1] Laron Young appeals from a summary judgment in favor of Burleigh Morton Detention Center ("BMDC"). He argues BMDC violated his Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel. He also argues BMDC's policy concerning inmate telephone calls violates N.D.C.C. § 12-44.1-14, which provides rights for inmates. We affirm.

I

[¶2] Young was an inmate at BMDC. Reliance Telephone of Grand Forks, Inc. ("Reliance") contracts with BMDC to operate its inmate telephone system. Every call that is not listed as "private" within the Reliance system is automatically recorded. It is undisputed that the telephone number for Young's attorney was not on the list of private numbers and various calls between himself and his attorney were recorded.

[¶3] Young sued BMDC and Reliance arguing his Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated and that BMDC had not complied with N.D.C.C. § 12-44.1-14(1), which requires correctional facilities to ensure inmates have confidential access to their attorneys. The district court dismissed the claims against Reliance for lack of jurisdiction. The court granted summary judgment in favor of BMDC concluding Young had not alleged facts to support a finding that he was prejudiced by the recordings and therefore his right to counsel was not violated. The court also concluded Young had not alleged facts to support a finding that BMDC violated N.D.C.C. § 12-44.1-14(1).

II

[¶4] Our standard for reviewing appeals from a summary judgment is well established: Summary judgment is a procedural device for the prompt resolution of a controversy on the merits without a trial if there are no genuine issues of material fact or inferences that can reasonably be drawn from undisputed facts, or if the only issues to be resolved are questions of law. A party moving for summary judgment has the burden of showing there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In determining whether summary judgment was appropriately granted, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and that party will be given the benefit of all favorable inferences which can reasonably be drawn from the record. On appeal, this Court decides whether the information available to the district court precluded the existence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitled the moving party to judgment as a matter of law. Whether the district court properly granted summary judgment is a question of law which we review de novo on the entire record.

Golden v. SM Energy Co., 2013 ND 17, ¶ 7, 826 N.W.2d 610 (quoting Hamilton v. Woll, 2012 ND 238, ¶ 9, 823 N.W.2d 754).

A

[¶5] Young argues BMDC violated his constitutional right to counsel when Reliance recorded and retained telephone calls between himself and his attorney.

[¶6] Defendants in criminal proceedings are guaranteed the right to counsel by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and N.D. Const. art. I, § 12. State v. Dvorak, 2000 ND 6, ¶ 9, 604 N.W.2d 445. "[T]he prosecutor and police have an affirmative obligation not to act in a manner that circumvents and thereby dilutes the protection afforded by the right to counsel." Ellis v. State, 2003 ND 72, ¶ 8, 660 N.W.2d 603 (quoting Maine v. Moulton, 474 U.S. 159, 171 (1985)). Inherent in the right to counsel is the privacy of attorney-client communications. State v. Clark, 1997 ND 199, ¶ 14, 570 N.W.2d 195.

[¶7] We addressed the issue of a correctional facility monitoring an inmate's telephone conversations with his attorney in Clark, 1997 ND 199. Clark was in custody awaiting trial on murder charges. Id. at ¶ 2. A correctional officer monitored a telephone call between Clark...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP