Part 2: Case Summaries by Major Topic.

Position:Case overview

Part 2: Case Summaries by Major Topic 1. ACCESS TO COURTS U.S. Appeals Court Barbour v. Haley, 471 F.3d 1222 (11th LEGAL ASSISTANCE 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) U.S. Appeals Court Lopez v. City of Chicago, 464 F.3d INITIAL APPEARANCE 711 (7th Cir. 2006). An arrestee INTERROGATION brought an action against a city and city police officers, alleging the duration and conditions of his detention violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and asserting a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The district court entered judgment as matter of law in favor of the defendants. The arrestee appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The court found that the police officers violated the arrestee's Fourth Amendment right to a prompt judicial probable cause determination by holding him for a period of five days after his arrest without a probable cause hearing, for the purpose of arrestee's [section] 1983 Fourth Amendment claim, absent any justification for the delay. The arrestee had been arrested for a murder he did not commit. Following his arrest, the defendants--all police detectives--kept him shackled to the wall of a windowless, nine-by-seven-foot interrogation room for four days and nights while they investigated the case. The arrestee had nowhere to sleep but a four-foot-by-ten-inch metal bench or the dirty brick floor. The interrogation room had no toilet or sink; he had to "scream" for the detectives to let him out to use a bathroom. He was given only one bologna sandwich and one serving of juice as food and drink during the entire four days and nights drat he was kept in the interrogation room. The detectives questioned him from time to time and made him stand in two lineups. After two-and-a-half days in these conditions, the arrestee started to become disoriented and began hearing voices telling him to confess. He ultimately gave a statement containing a false confession that did not match the details of the crime. On the fifth day of his detention, the arrestee was moved to a city lockup, charged, and finally taken to court. The following day, the police investigation led detectives to another individual who confessed to the murder. The arrestee was released the next day. (Chicago Police Department's Area 5, Illinois) U.S. District Court Mark v, Gustafson, 482 F.Supp.2d 1084 TRANSFER (W.D.Wis. 2006). A state prison inmate sued a prison and individuals, alleging that "magic seals" were removed from the interior of his prison cell in violation of his religious rights, and that officials conspired to transfer him to another facility. The district court entered judgment for the defendants. The court held that prison officials did not violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) when they prohibited the inmate from affixing "magic seals," presumably part of the inmate's practice of religion involving magic, to the walls of his cell. The court found that the absence of any evidence that officials made any kind of concerted effort to send the inmate to a state prison that lacked adequate legal research facilities precluded his claim that his transfer was the result of a conspiracy to deny his right to pursue legal remedies, rather than the stated purposes of sending him closer to home to ease his return to the outside world. (Oakhill Correctional Institution, Wisconsin) U.S. Appeals Court Pratt v. Tarr, 464 F.3d 730 (7th Cir. LAW BOOKS 2006). A state prison inmate brought LEGAL MATERIAL a pro se [section] 1983 action WRITING MATERIAL against prison officials, alleging that the officials had violated his right of access to the courts by denying him adequate materials. The district court granted the officials' motion for judgment on the pleadings, and the inmate appealed. The appeals court reversed, finding that the inmate stated a claim by alleging that the officials' denial of adequate materials had caused him to lose court cases, and by submitting information about those cases. In his complaint, the inmate alleged that officials "den[ied] him adequate scribe materials, a desk, a chair and personal legal property to defend pending litigation in state and federal courts, which caused plaintiffs cases to now be lost and/or dismissed" and that the officials "violate[d] access to the courts' standards by refusing to release law books, briefs, transcripts, case law materials, [and] carbon paper." (Wisconsin) U.S. Appeals Court Senty-Haugen v. Goodno, 462 F.3d 876 RETALIATION (8th Cir. 2006). A civilly-committed sex offender brought an action against the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, other Department officials, and sex offender program employees, alleging violations of federal and state law for being placed in isolation, receiving inadequate medical attention, and being retaliated against. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants and the offender appealed. The appeals court affimed. The court held that placement of the civilly-committed sex offender in isolation because of rule infractions did not infringe on his procedural due process rights, given that his commitment was indefinite, that he received notice and had the right to be heard, that the decision to use isolation was a discretionary decision by state officials, and that the State had a vital interest in maintaining a secure environment. The court found that the offender's transfer was not in retaliation for his alleged advocacy for another patient, so as to violate the offender's speech rights, where the sex offender program officials indicated that they transferred the offender to lessen his contact with the patient, whom the offender was suspected of exploiting, and where the offender failed to present any evidence that the transfer took place for any other reason. (Minnesota Sex Offender Program, Minnesota Department of Human Services) U.S. Appeals Court Sieverding v. Colorado Bar Ass'n, 469 FRIVOLOUS SUITS F.3d 1340 (10th Cir. 2006). A pro se PRE SE LITIGATION plaintiff petitioned for a writ of mandamus challenging the filing restrictions imposed by the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, that prohibited filing of a pro se action in any court without the district court's approval. The appeals court held that the filing restrictions were overbroad as to appellate courts, state courts, and district courts in other circuits and should have been limited to a ban on suits on any subject matter against the persons, entities, counsel, and insurance companies of the parties involved in prior litigation by the plaintiff. The court noted that the right of access to the courts is neither absolute nor unconditional, and there is no constitutional right of access to the courts to prosecute an action that is frivolous or malicious. The court also found that a federal district court in the District of Colorado may impose filing restrictions that include other federal district courts within the Tenth Circuit, but it is not appropriate to extend those restrictions to include federal district courts outside the Tenth Circuit, nor is it reasonable for a court in the Tenth Circuit to speak on behalf of courts in other circuits as those courts are capable of taking appropriate action on their own. (United States District Court for the District of Colorado) U.S. Appeals Court Wardell v. Duncan, 470 F.3d 954 (10th LAW BOOKS Cir. 2006). A state prisoner brought LEGAL MATERIAL a pro se [section] 1983 action LEGAL MAIL against prison officials, alleging that a prison policy that required prisoners to purchase all hobby materials, legal materials, books, and magazines from their prison accounts, and prohibiting gifts to prisoners of such materials from unauthorized sources, violated his due process rights, his right of access to the courts, and his First Amendment rights. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the officials. The prisoner appealed. According to the court, the confiscation of documents mailed to the prisoner which were purchased by a person who was a visitor of another inmate, did not violate the prisoner's First Amendment rights, where the ban was content neutral, it was rationally related to the penological interest of preventing bartering, extortion, possession of contraband, and other criminal activity by prisoners, the prisoner was still able to purchase the same materials himself using funds from his prison account, and he had access to the same materials in the prison law library. The court noted that permitting such third-party gifts and then trying to control the resultant security problems through reactive efforts of prison officers would impose an undue burden on prison staff and resources. The court held that the inmate's proposed accommodation, allowing third party gifts if third parties provided relevant information, such as the source, amount, and manner of payment, would entail data collection, processing, and substantial staff resources. The suit was prompted by prison officials' interception of three parcels...

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