Part 1: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

PositionCase overview

Part 1 presents complete summaries for each case, alphabetically by year published. The major topic section and subtopics are identified before each case summary. This format makes it easier for the reader to review every case. Part 2 presents the summaries under each of the 50 major topic areas.

  1. ADMINISTRATION: Harassment, Working Conditions

  2. PERSONNEL: Hostile Work Environment, Sexual Harassment, Title VII

    Akines v. Shelby County Government, 512 F.Supp.2d 1138 (W.D. Term. 2007). Female correctional officers brought Title VII, [section] 1983 and a Tennessee Whistleblower Act suit alleging hostile work environment arising from a county's indifference to sexual harassment of the officers by county jail inmates. The district court granted summary judgment to the county on the claims of certain officers. The county renewed its motion with respect to the remaining officers and the court granted it. The court held that the county's taking of appropriate disciplinary steps in response to reports of inmate harassment precluded a finding that it had fostered a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII. According to the court, the county was not deliberately indifferent to the rights of the female officers or a moving force behind the harassment, as required for a violation of [section] 1983. The court noted that the presence of one incident in which the institution apparently did not respond to a female correctional officer's filing of a disciplinary complaint against one inmate for alleged sexual harassment was insufficient to establish a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII, where the institution responded by disciplining inmates in connection with other reported incidents. (Shelby County Correctional Center, Tennessee)


  4. LIABILITY: State Remedies

    Alba v. Montford, 517 F.3d 1249 (11th Cir. 2008). A federal prisoner incarcerated in a privately operated correctional facility brought a pro se [section] 1983 action against prison employees for allegedly acting with deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The district court interpreted the complaint as asserting a claim under Bivens and dismissed it for failure to state a claim because the prisoner had adequate state remedies available. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that even assuming that the private prison was a government actor for the purposes of Bivens liability, alternative remedies existed by which the prisoner could recover from its employees. (McRae Correctional Facility, Corrections Corporation of America, Georgia)

  5. RELEASE: Conditional Release, Parole-Conditions, Pre-Release, Release Date

    Alexander v. U.S. Parole Com'n., 514 F.3d 1083 (10th Cir. 2008). A federal prison inmate sentenced under the Federal Youth Corrections Act (YCA) petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus after the Parole Commission denied parole. The district court ordered the Commission to proceed with development of an appropriate pre-release program and the Commission appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part. The court held that the district court's order was the functional equivalent of a conditional release order and thus was final and reviewable. The court found that the Commission could not determine jeopardy to public welfare from the inmate's release without considering potential conditions of release, but that the district court lacked the authority to order the Commission to set a pre-release date and begin the process toward parole. (FCI Sheridan, Colorado)

  6. RELIGION: Opportunity to Practice, RLUIPA- Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Sweat Lodge

    Alvarez v. Hill, 518 F.3d 1152 (9th Cir. 2008). A prisoner brought an action against prison officials alleging that they substantially burdened his religious exercise by denying him various accommodations. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the officials and the prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. The court held that the complaint established a plausible entitlement to relief under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUTPA), thereby satisfying the short and plain statement pleading standard, even though the complaint did not cite RLUIPA. The court noted that the prisoner did reference RLUIPA in a subsequent motion and in his opposition to summary judgment. The inmate alleged that officials burdened his religion by denying him the "right to participate and practice the Sweat Lodge Ceremony and Sacred Pipe Ceremony" and by making it "difficult if not impossible to communicate with any of his tribe[']s religious representatives." He also alleged that they forbade him from wearing a headband, consuming tobacco for ceremonial purposes and participating in group worship. (Snake River Correctional Institution, Oregon)

  7. ACCESS TO COURT: Legal Mail

  8. FREE SPEECH, EXPRESSION, ASSOCIATION: Free Speech, Inspection of Mail

  9. MAIL: Legal Mail, Opening Mail

    Al-Amin v. Smith, 511 F.3d 1317 (11th Cir. 2008). A state prison inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against state corrections officials, alleging that the officials repeatedly opened his privileged attorney mail outside of his presence in violation of his rights to access to the courts and free speech. The district court denied the officials' motion for summary judgment and the officials appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The appeals court held that the prisoner's constitutional right of access to the courts requires that incoming legal mail may be opened only in the inmate's presence and only to inspect for contraband. According to the curt, the inmate's right to have properly marked incoming attorney mail opened only in his presence was clearly established. The court found that the lack of showing of actual injury precluded recovery on the right-of-access claim. The court held that the inmate had a free speech right to communicate with his attorneys separate from his right of access to the courts and that the pattern and practice of opening the prisoner's attorney mail outside his presence impinges on his freedom of speech. The court noted that actual injury is not required for the prisoner to state a free speech claim arising from the opening of attorney mail and that the First Amendment prohibition against opening the inmate's attorney mail outside his presence was clearly established. (Georgia State Prison)

  10. ADMTNISTRATIVE SEGREGATON: Evidence, Placement

  11. IMMUNITY: Qualified Immunity

    Amrine v. Brooks, 522 F.3d 823 (8th Cir. 2008). A prisoner sued a prison investigator and deputy sheriff under [section] 1983 alleging that they violated his constitutional rights during an investigation of a prison stabbing, for which prisoner was convicted and sentenced to death, but later exonerated during a habeas proceeding. Following the death of the investigator, his estate was substituted as a party. The district court denied the prisoner's motion to alter or amend judgment and the prisoner appealed. The court held that the investigator and deputy were qualifiedly immune from the prisoner's claim of unreasonable seizure, assuming that the prisoner's placement in a detention cell by the investigator and deputy pursuant to the investigation of a prison stabbing was an arrest that was supported by arguable probable cause, The court noted that inculpatory evidence against the prisoner included evidence of a motive to kill the victim and exculpatory evidence included the officer's identification of a third inmate as the inmate whom the victim was chasing, such that more than a minimal investigation was required. (Missouri Department of Corrections)

  12. ADMINISTRATION: APA- Administrative Procedures Act

  13. PROGRAMS- PRISONER: Release, Treatment Program

  14. RELEASE: Early Release

    Arrington v. Daniels, 516 F.3d 1106 (9th Cir. 2008). Prisoners filed numerous petitions for a writ of habeas corpus, asserting that a regulation implemented by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by categorically excluding prisoners convicted of offenses involving possession, carrying, or use of firearms from early release for the successful completion of a residential substance abuse program. The district court denied the petitions and the prisoners appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The court held that the regulation was invalid under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), since the BOP failed to articulate a rationale for the regulation so as to provide a means for reviewing the reasonableness of the agency's categorical exclusion of a class of nonviolent offenders from eligibility for early release. The court noted that the BOP's general desire for uniformity in the application of the regulation did not explain why the exclusion rule was promulgated, as the uniformity could have been accomplished in any number of ways. (Sheridan Correctional Institution, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Oregon)

  15. CLASSIFICATION & SEPARATION: Gangs, Solitary Confinement

  16. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Prisoner on Prisoner Assault

  17. INTAKE AND ADMISSIONS: Classification, Screening

  18. LIABILITY: FTCA- Federal Tort Claims Act, Negligence

    Ashford v. U.S., 511 F.3d 501 (5th Cir. 2007). An inmate sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) alleging that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was negligent in placing him in a prison population with a gang member who had attacked him in the past. The district court entered summary judgment for the BOP and the inmate appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The court held that the discretionary-function exception to FTCA did not apply if the inmate raised a concern at a prison intake interview that he would be endangered if he were placed in the prison population with the gang member. The court...

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