PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s highest court has rejected an appeal from a man accused of holding hostages in an elementary school who claimed his constitutional rights were violated because a jail didn’t provide him the newspapers he wanted to read or let him watch TV news programs of his choice.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed 57-year-old Randall Hofland’s claims against the York County Jail.
Justices said Hofland’s claim fell short because the jail did provide him access to newspapers and TV programming — even if they weren’t exactly what he wanted when he wanted.
Hofland, who is now at the Somerset County Jail, was indicted on 22 counts of kidnapping, 12 counts of criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon, six counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and one count of burglary after the Oct. 31, 2008, hostage-taking incident at Stockton Springs Elementary School.
None of the 11 students held hostage was physically injured during the half-hour-long incident, which ended when Hofland handed his 10 mm handgun to a male pupil. Hofland was tackled by police as he left the classroom and stepped into the hallway.
At the time that he entered the school with a gun, Hofland already had been the subject of a weeklong police manhunt which began after he allegedly brandished a handgun at a Searsport police officer during a routine safety check on Oct. 23. He then fled into nearby woods. At some point that night, Hofland called the Waldo County Communications Center and allegedly told a dispatcher there would be “war” unless the police backed off.
Hofland, who has acted as his own defense attorney, by April 2010 had filed civil lawsuits against Waldo County District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau, Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker, Attorney General Janet Mills and Maine State Police Col. Patrick Fleming.
The Bangor Daily News contributed to this report.