Raymond Taylor, serving three life sentences in Maryland, for attempted murder, sued a woman for not paying him $685 for his sketches of Shrek and Garfield to be sold at a flea market. Last week, with a court date set for March 1, authorities put Taylor in a transport van for his court appearance. Officials say Taylor used a layover at a prison center in downtown Baltimore to plan an escape, switching IDs with another prisoner in a temporary cell and talking his way through three more security checks that failed to detect the ruse before being mistakenly freed. He was captured a day later in West Virginia.
Why would corrections officials allow an inmate – who had lined his ex-girlfriend and her two young children against a headboard and shot each in the head and chest – a trip at taxpayer expense to press a trivial civil claim? The short answer is that they have to, because anyone suing anyone, even an inmate, has a right to appear in court. “It’s not up to the executive department to decide what’s a frivolous lawsuit,” said Rick Binetti of the state prison system. He could not provide a cost for moving an inmate across the state, but he did say that the vast majority of inmate travel involves trips to criminal court for their cases, to medical treatment and to be released, and only a small percentage is related to civil matters.