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With regard to Martin Chuks Ezeagu, who is described in “Closing Arguments” (8/20) as the librarian of the Lorton Prison law library: Ezeagu is not listed in the membership rosters for either the American Association of Law Libraries nor the Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C. Of course, neither membership is an absolute requisite for running a law library.

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But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made a name for himself. His librarianship will be perpetuated forever in the court decision of Tyrone Martin v. Martin Chuks Ezeagu, 816 F. Supp. 20 (DC District Ct 1993). In that case, a Lorton inmate sued Ezeagu for having repeatedly and capriciously denied him use of the law library, including locking the library doors against him, ejecting him from the library, refusing to allow him access to legal publications, and even “confiscating” the inmate’s own books and rummaging through the inmate’s own legal memos; and the suit alleged that “on those occasions when [the inmate] was allowed in the library, Ezeagu constantly harassed and berated him, hounded him, shouted racial epithets at him, and used profanity when addressing him.” Martin complained that Ezeagu’s obstruction of his legal research effectively denied him meaningful access to the courts, and to prove it he recited several procedural steps in his ongoing court cases that he either missed or had to ask for extensions to accomplish because of his lack of access to Lorton’s law library. For his part, Ezeagu defended mostly on the premise that he had official immunity from suit. The judge was not persuaded by Ezeagu, and his motion to dismiss the case was rejected. I don’t know what happened to that case further on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lorton administration settled out of court. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this court decision, which is available in any other law library, is somehow missing from the Lorton library.

I know that, at least as of a few years back, the librarians of some big Washington law firms were in the habit of shipping off their paperbound advance copies of court decisions to Lorton as a gift, rather than just trashing them, when the permanent hardcover books arrived. If that were still true, the resources in the Lorton library would be only a few months behind, rather than years behind. Can it be that all the participating law firms suddenly quit this benevolence, or is it more likely that these hand-me-downs are being junked when they arrive at Lorton? Mr. Ezeagu runs the only law library I know that has (or had) only a single law dictionary and won’t bother to get another. He is, alone among law librarians in this area, able to dominate a law library where the customer is always wrong.

Bethesda, Md.

via the Internet