Part one: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

Position:Case overview
  1. ADMINISTRATIVE SEGREGATION: Due Process, Hearing, Placement

    Abdur-Raheem v. Selsky, 806 F.Supp.2d 628 (W.D.N.Y. 2011.) A prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against state prison employees, alleging various constitutional violations. The employees moved to dismiss. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that the prisoner's allegations that he did not receive a written recommendation that he be administratively segregated for security reasons, and that he was not informed of the hearing concerning administrative segregation until the day of the hearing, sufficiently alleged that he was denied the opportunity to prepare and present a defense to allegations contained in the recommendation, and thus stated cause of action against a state prison official for a due process violation. (Elmira Correctional Facility, New York State Department of Correctional Services)

  2. ACCESS TO COURTS: Privileged Correspondence/Mail

  3. LIABILITY: Compensatory Damages, PLRA-Prison Litigation Reform Act, Punitive Damages

  4. MAIL: Attorney Mail, Privileged Correspondence

    Al-Amin v. Smith, 637 F.3d 1192 (11th Cir. 2011). A state prison inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against state corrections officials, alleging that the officials had repeatedly opened his privileged attorney mail outside of his presence, in violation of his rights of access to the courts and free speech. The district court denied the officials' motion for summary judgment. The appeals court affirmed in part and reversed in part, and denied rehearing en banc. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. On remand, the district court granted the officials' motion, precluding the inmate from offering evidence of either compensatory or punitive damages. The inmate appealed. The appeals court affirmed, finding that the prisoner could not seek punitive damages relief absent a physical injury, under the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. (Georgia State Prison)

  5. ACCESS TO COURTS: Records, Evidence

  6. MEDICAL CARE: Deliberate Indifference, Records-Access

  7. SAFETY AND SECURITY: Use of Force, Video Surveillance

  8. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

    Alspaugh v. McConnell, 643 F.3d 162 (6th Cir. 2011). A state prisoner filed a civil rights action alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference against numerous state and private defendants. The district court granted summary judgment against the prisoner. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The appeal court held that the prisoner's request for a videotape of a fight was of the nature that it would have changed legal and factual deficiencies of his civil rights action alleging excessive force, and thus the prisoner was entitled to production of it, since the videotape would have shown how much force had been used in subduing the prisoner. But the court held that the prisoner who was alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference was not entitled to the production of his medical records before considering the state's motion for summary judgment, where the state and private defendants produced enough evidence to demonstrate that medical personnel were not deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. (Ionia Maximum Security Correctional Facility, Michigan)

  9. ADMINISTRATION: Policies/Procedures

  10. CIVIL RIGHTS: Sexual Abuse, Sexual Harassment

  11. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Sexual Assault

  12. FEMALE PRISONERS: Sexual Harassment

  13. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES, PRISONER: Exhaustion, PLEA-Prison Litigation Reform Act

    Amador v. Andrews, 655 F.3d 89 (2nd Cir. 2011). Current and former female inmates filed a class action [section] 1983 suit against several line officers employed at seven state prisons and various supervisors and other corrections officials, claiming that they were sexually abused and harassed by the line officers and that the supervisory defendants contributed to this abuse and harassment through the maintenance of inadequate policies and practices. The district court dismissed, and the inmates appealed. The appeals court dismissed in part, and vacated and remanded in part. The court held that the female inmates who made internal complaints, investigated by an Inspector General (IG), that sought redress only for the alleged actions of a particular corrections officer and did not seek a change in policies or procedures, failed to exhaust their internal remedies, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) to proceed in federal court on [section] 1983 claims of sexual abuse and harassment. But the court found that the female inmates' claim of a failure to protect was sufficient exhaustion with regard to a [section] 1983 class action litigation seeking systemic relief from alleged sexual abuse and harassment. (New York Department of Correctional Services)

  14. ADMINISTRATION: Employee Discipline, Policies/Procedures, Union

  15. IMMUNITY: Qualified Immunity

  16. PERSONNEL: Discipline, Due Process, Suspension

    Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs v. County of Los Angeles, 648 F.3d 986 (9th Cir. 2011). Current or former deputy sheriffs who had been charged with felonies, suspended, reinstated after suspension, and then discharged, brought [section] 1983 claims based on Fourteenth Amendment due process violations against the county, its board of supervisors, civil service commissioners, and sheriff. The deputies were joined by their union. The defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court granted the motion and the former deputies appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. The appeals court held that: (1) due process required that the deputies receive post-suspension hearings in addition to the limited procedures they received before their suspensions; (2) all four deputies adequately stated Monell claims against the county; (3) civil service commissioners were entitled to qualified immunity from the claims of the deputies who did not receive post-suspension hearings, although those claims could go forward against the sheriff and county supervisors; and (4) all individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity from the [section] 1983 claims of the two deputies who received post-suspension hearings, as their right to a more substantial hearing was not clearly established at the time of the violations. (Los Angeles County, California)

  17. CLASSIFICATION & SEPARATION: Custody Level, Due Process

  18. GOOD TIME: Due Process, Ex Post Facto

  19. RELEASE: Credit, Due Process, Good-Time

    Baggett v. Keller, 796 F.Supp.2d 718 (E.D.N.C. 2011.) State prisoners, who were each convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, petitioned for federal habeas relief on the ground that their accrued good time, gain time, and merit time credits entitled them to unconditional release. The district court dismissed the petitions. The court held that the decision to withhold application of credits from the calculation of the date for unconditional release did not violate the prisoners' due process rights. The court noted that the credits were solely for the purpose of allowing prisoners serving life sentences to move to less restrictive custody grades, not for allowing unconditional release. The court held that the decision did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause, where the DOC never promulgated a regulation under state law shortening or modifying prisoner's sentences and never applied sentence reduction credits toward calculating the date of their unconditional release. (North Carolina Department of Corrections)

  20. CLASSIFICATION & SEPARATION: Gangs, Due Process, Equal Protection

  21. CRUEL & UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT: Separation, Security

  22. SAFETY AND SECURITY: Gangs, Classification, Separation

    Baker v. Kernan, 795 F.Supp.2d 992 (E.D.Cal. 2011.) A state inmate filed a [section] 1983 action against a prison official alleging that a policy of separating members of rival prison gangs denied him equal protection, due process, and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The official moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion. The court held that the state's policy of separating members of rival prison gangs did not deny the inmate due process or violate his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, where the program was a rational response to a legitimate security concern, and it preserved the inmate's ability to exercise regularly outside, be considered for a job, use the facilities off the main yard, meet with a prison chaplain, and see visitors. The court also found that the state's classification of prisoners by their gang affiliation did not violate the inmate's equal protection rights, even if members of a larger gang fared slightly better in some aspects of confinement, where the classification was not based on race. The court noted that there was a long history of gang members immediately attacking members of rival gangs, and the policy of identifying and separating members of rival gangs advanced safety and order by preventing them from violently attacking each other. (California State Prison, Sacramento)

  23. IMMUNITY: Qualified Immunity



  26. SEARCHES: Pretrial Detainees, Strip Searches

    Bame v. Dillard, 637 F.3d 380 (D.C.Cir. 2011). Arrestees, who were arrested while protesting International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank policies in the District of Columbia, brought a Bivens action against a former United States Marshal, alleging that they had been subjected to unconstitutional strip searches upon being processed into holding cells at a courthouse. The arrestees moved for summary judgment as to liability, and the Marshal moved for summary judgment on the issue of qualified immunity. The district court denied those motions. On appeal, the appeals court reversed and remanded. The court held that there was no clearly established constitutional...

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