Part 1: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

Position:Case overview
  1. ACCESS TO COURTS: Stun Belt, Restraints

  2. HABEAS CORPUS: Access to Courts

  3. USE OF FORCE: Stun Belt

    Adams v. Bradshaw, 484 F.Supp.2d 753 (N.D.Ohio 2007). After his convictions for aggravated murder and other offenses were affirmed, an offender sought a writ of habeas corpus. The district court held that, even if a due process violation occurred, the improper use of a stun belt placed on the defendant his during trial was a harmless error because the evidence of guilt was overwhelming. The court noted that due process prohibits the use of shackles on a defendant during a criminal trial, unless there exists an essential state interest, such as the interest in courtroom security. (Trumbell County, Ohio)

  4. MEDICAL CARE: Deliberate Indifference, Delay in Care


    Adams v. Cook County Dept. of Corrections, 485 F.Supp.2d 940 (N.D.Ill. 2007). An inmate brought a [section] 1983 claim against physicians, alleging they acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The district court dismissed the claim in part, and denied the defendants' motion for dismissal in part. The court held that the prisoner alleged sufficiently serious medical needs to support his claim that jail officials acted with deliberate indifference to such needs, in violation of due process, by alleging that he had "shortness of breath," "severe pain in [his] right side" and a high fever. The court found that the inmate stated a [section] 1983 claim for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs under the Fourteenth Amendment by alleging that he had a serious medical need and that he was insufficiently treated by two defendant physicians. (Cook County Jail, Illinois)

  6. ATTORNEY FEES: Prevailing Party, Determination

    Agster v. Maricopa County, 486 F.Supp.2d 1005 (D.Ariz. 2007). An arrestee's parents and estate brought an action against a county, police officers, county correctional health agency, and nurse, alleging federal civil rights claims. Following a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs tiled two motions for attorney fees and non-taxable costs, and the defendants moved to strike the plaintiffs' second motion for attorney fees. The district court granted the plaintiffs' motions and denied the defendants' motions. The court held that: (1) the reasonable hourly rate for the plaintiffs' lead attorney was $400; (2) reduction of hours requested was warranted for the time plaintiffs' attorneys spent dealing with the media, and for the hours spent on a duplication of effort, turnover of staff, and inefficiencies inherent in utilizing as many timekeepers as the plaintiffs' attorneys used; (3) plaintiffs were entitled to an award of post-trial out-of-pocket expenses, including billed costs not taxed by clerk of court; and (4) apportionment of attorney fees among the defendants was not warranted. (Maricopa County, Arizona)

  7. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Officer on Prisoner Assault

  8. FALSE IMPRISONMENT/ARREST: False Arrest, Malicious Prosecution

  9. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

    Allen v. City of New York, 480 F.Supp.2d 689 (S.D.N.Y. 2007). A prison inmate sued a city and corrections officers, claiming violation of the Eighth Amendment, false arrest, and malicious prosecution arising from a beating administered by the officers while being escorted to his cell. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants in part, and denied in part. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by fact issues regarding whether officers accompanying inmate could and should have intervened to keep one officer from banging the inmate's head against a wall, whether the officer who allegedly banged the inmate's head against a wall used excessive force, whether an officer who filed a criminal assault complaint against the inmate committed malicious prosecution, and whether that officer was entitled to qualified immunity. (Rikers Island, New York City Department of Corrections)

  10. CIVIL RIGHTS: Civil Commitment

  11. HABEAS CORPUS: Civil Commitment

  12. LIABILITY: Contempt

    Armstrong v. Guccione, 470 F.3d 89 (2nd Cir. 2006). A prisoner incarcerated for civil contempt for refusing to comply with an order, sought habeas corpus relief. The district court denied the prisoner's motion for bail and the prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed, remanded, and ordered the case to be reassigned. The court held that the Non-Detention Act did not eliminate the lower courts' inherent power to order coercive civil confinement, and implicitly authorized coercive confinement in the face of civil contempt. The court found that civil confinement only becomes punitive, for the purposes of a due process analysis, when it loses the ability to secure compliance. The court held that a seven-year length of imprisonment for refusing to produce corporate records and property, so as to comply with an order issued in a civil securities fraud action, did not violate the prisoner's due process rights, where the property in question had a "life-altering" value of $15 million, such that his refusal to comply indicated that he was willing to suffer jail time in hopes of ending up in possession of the property. The court opened it's opinion with the following statement: "It has been said that a civil contemnor who is incarcerated to compel compliance with a court order holds the key to his prison cell: Where defiance leads to the contemnor's incarceration, compliance is his salvation." (Metropolitan Correctional Center, Federal Bureau of Prisons, New York)

  13. ACCESS TO COURTS: Legal Assistance

    Barbour v. Haley, 471 F.3d 1222 (11th Cir. 2006). Death row inmates brought a [section] 1983 class action, alleging that Alabama's failure to provide them with legal assistance prior to their filing post-conviction challenges deprived them of their Fourteenth Amendment right of access to the courts. The district court entered judgment for the state, and plaintiffs appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that death-sentenced inmates have no federal constitutional right to counsel for the preparation and presentation of claims for post-conviction relief, as part of Fourteenth Amendment right of access to courts, and that the inmates were not entitled to relief on their claim for a lesser form of legal assistance than provision of counsel. The court noted that death-sentenced inmates have no Sixth or Eighth Amendment right to post-conviction counsel. (William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility and Holman State Prison, Alabama)


    Bigbee v. Nalley, 482 F.Supp.2d 1092 (W.D.Wis. 2007). A federal prisoner sought leave to proceed under the in forma pauperis statute on proposed Bivens claims against federal prison officials for monetary, injunctive and declaratory relief. The district court denied leave in part and stayed the decision in part. The court held that the prisoner had no due process protected liberty interest in remaining in a hobby crafts program or in the Softball league at a federal correctional institution. (Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin)

  15. PERSONNEL: Sexual Harassment, Retaliation, Termination, Equal Protection

    Briggs v. Waters, 484 F.Supp.2d 466 (E.D.Va. 2007). A former employee of a county sheriffs office sued a former county sheriff and others, claiming that she was subjected to quid pro quo sexual harassment and was fired in retaliation for spurning the sheriffs advances. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The appeals court denied the motions. The court held that the female employee showed that the conduct of the male sheriff was unwelcome, as required for a Title VII action and a [section] 1983 suit alleging equal protection violations based on sexual harassment, when she initially offered an excuse when asked to accompany him on business trip and did not respond to a follow-up e-mail, and by shrugging away when the sheriff hugged her. The court found that summary judgment was precluded by a material issue of fact as to whether the request by the sheriff that the employee accompany him on a trip was request for a date or, given the past conduct of the sheriff, was a request for sex. The court also found that summary judgment was precluded by material issues of fact as to whether the sheriffs termination of the employee, who had been convicted of obstructing justice in an unrelated matter and was appealing the decision, was a pretext for termination based on her rebuff of his sexual advances. The court held that the employee established a prima facie case of disparate discipline, in violation of Title VII and her equal protection rights, through showing that she was terminated following her conviction for obstructing justice, while two male officers convicted of drunken driving were not terminated. (City of Portsmouth Jail, Virginia)

  16. MEDICAL CARE: Contagious Diseases

  17. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Medical Care

    Butler v. Fletcher, 465 F.3d 340 (8th Cir. 2006). A prisoner who was transferred from a county jail to a prison after his conviction, where he tested positive for tuberculosis (TB), filed a [section] 1983 action against a county sheriff, alleging the sheriff violated his substantive due process rights by failing to adopt and implement adequate safeguards protecting county jail inmates from TB infection. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the sheriff and the prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that the sheriff did not act with deliberate indifference to a serious health risk that TB posed to detainees in the county jail. The prisoner alleged that he spent most of his time at the jail in two-person cells and in larger holding cells, where as many as twenty-six short-term detainees were held under deplorable sanitary conditions. He asserted that the sheriffs policy of placing short-term detainees in multi-person cells without an initial TB screening inadequately protects detainees from the...

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