Part One: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

Position:Case overview
 
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  1. RELIGION: Equal Protection, Free Exercise

    American Humanist Ass 'n v. U.S., 63 F.Supp.3d 1274 (D.Or. 2014). A federal prison inmate and a secular humanist organization brought an action against the federal government, a prison, and prison officials, alleging that the inmate's constitutional rights were violated when the prison failed to provide accommodations to secular humanists. The defendants moved to dismiss. The district court denied the motion. The court held that secular humanism was a religion for Establishment Clause purposes, and thus the federal prison inmate stated First Amendment claims arising from the prison's failure to provide accommodations to secular humanists equal to those provided to other religious groups. The court held that the officials were not entitled to qualified immunity against the inmate's claims. The court noted that by affirming denial of the inmate's requests to allow secular humanists to meet as a group in a federal prison located in Oregon, and to deny recognition of humanism as a religious preference assignment at the prison, the regional director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) intentionally directed the activity as required for the district court to have specific personal jurisdiction over the director with regard to the inmate's claims. (Federal Correctional Institution, Sheridan, Oregon)

  2. DISCIPLINE: Evidence, Good Time, Punishment

  3. GOOD TIME: Revocation, Due Process

  4. HABEAS CORPUS: Discipline, Good Time

    Austin v. Pazera, 779 F.3d 437 (7th Cir. 2015). A state prisoner petitioned for federal habeas relief, alleging that a disciplinary proceeding had denied him due process of law, primarily by convicting him on the basis of insufficient evidence. The district court denied the petition and the prisoner appealed. The appeals court reversed, finding that evidence did not support the disciplinary determination that the inmate was guilty of attempted trafficking in tobacco. According to the court, the prison disciplinary hearing officer's finding that the inmate was guilty was not supported by even "some evidence," and, thus, the subsequent revocation of his good time credit and other imposed disciplinary sanctions violated due process. The inmate's punishment consisted of losing 60 days of good-time credit which increased his period of imprisonment by 60 days, being demoted from "credit class 1" to "credit class 2." Inmates in the first class earn one day of good time credit for each day of imprisonment, while inmates in the second class earn one day of credit for every two days of imprisonment. The inmate was also given 20 hours of extra work duty, and denied access to the prison commissary for 25 days. (Indiana Department of Corrections)

  5. ADMINISTRATION: Policies/Procedures, Contract Services

  6. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Medical Care, Wrongful Death

  7. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES, PRISONER: Procedures, Right of Access

  8. LIABILITY: Private Provider

  9. MEDICAL CARE: Private Provider, Medication, Training, Deliberate Indifference

  10. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Medical Care, Medication, Grievance

  11. TRAINING: Medical Care, Failure to Train

    Await v. Marketti, 74 F.Supp.3d 909 (N.D.Ill. 2014). The estate and the widow of a pretrial detainee who died in a county jail brought civil rights and wrongful death actions against jail personnel and medical care providers who serviced the jail. The county defendants and the medical defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court held that: (1) the evidence was sufficient for a reasonable juror to find that the correctional officers and a jail superintendent were deliberately indifferent to the detainee's medical needs; (2) summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to whether the officers knew that the detainee was suffering seizures while in jail and failed to take appropriate action; (3) a reasonable juror could have found that neither a physician nor a nurse made a reasoned medical judgment not to prescribe a particular anti-seizure drug for the detainee; and, (4) in the Seventh Circuit, private health care workers providing medical services to inmates are not entitled to assert qualified immunity.

    The court also found that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact: (1) concerning whether failure of the sheriffs office and the jail's medical services provider to provide adequate medical training to correctional officers caused the detainee's death; (2) as to whether the sheriffs office and the jail's medical services provider had an implicit policy of deliberate indifference to medical care provided to detainees; (3) regarding whether correctional officers knew that the detainee was suffering seizures and ignored his suffering; (5) as to whether the decision of the sheriffs office and the jail's medical services provider not to implement a standardized grievance mechanism led to a widespread practice at the jail of ignoring or delaying response to grievances and medical requests made by detainees, and as to whether this failure was the moving force behind the pretrial detainee's seizure-related death; and (6) as to whether the sheriffs office and the jail's medical services provider had an express policy that prevented a nurse from restocking a particular medication until there were only eight pills left in stock and whether that policy was the moving force behind the pretrial detainee's seizure- related death. The court denied qualified immunity from liability to the correctional officers and the sheriffs office. (Grundy County Jail, Illinois)

  12. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Wrongful Death, Medical Care

  13. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Wrongful Death, Medical Care

    Await v. Marketti, 75 F.Supp.3d 777 (N.D.Ill. 2014). The estate and the widow of a pretrial detainee who died in a county jail brought civil rights and wrongful death action against the county, jail personnel, the medical services contractor, and the contractor's employees. Individual defendants moved to separate their cases from the claims against the county and the contractor. The district court granted the motion, finding that the potential for unfair prejudice warranted the separation. (Correctional Health Companies, Inc., Health Professional, Ltd., Grundy County Jail, Illinois)

  14. ACCESS TO COURTS: PLRA- Prison Litigation Reform Act, Exhaustion

  15. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES, PRISONER: PLRA- Prison Litigation Reform Act, Exhaustion

    Blake v. Ross, 787 F.3d 693 (4th Cir. 2015). An inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against correctional officers, alleging use of excessive force. One officer moved for summary judgment on the ground that inmate failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The district court granted the motion and the inmate appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The court held that an internal investigation afforded correction officials time and opportunity to address the complaints internally, as required for an exception to the PLRA exhaustion of remedies requirement to apply, and the inmate's belief that he had exhausted administrative remedies was a reasonable interpretation of the inmate grievance procedures. (Maryland Reception Diagnostic and Classification Center)

  16. CLASSIFICATION & SEPARATION: Handicapped Inmate

  17. FACILITIES: ADA- Americans with Disabilities Act, Shower, Toilet, Handicapped

  18. LIABILITY: Individual Capacity

  19. PRETRIAL DETENTION: ADA- Americans with Disabilities Act, Classification

    Blossom v. Dart, 64 F.Supp.3d 1158 (N.D.Ill. 2014). A disabled detainee in a county jail brought an action against a county and a county sheriff, asserting a [section] 1983 claim for deprivation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights and alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The sheriff filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court denied the motion. The court held that the disabled detainee, who suffered injuries due to the lack of accommodation for his disability, sufficiently alleged that the sheriff had personal knowledge of, or involvement in, the alleged deprivation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights, so as to state a [section] 1983 claim against the sheriff in his individual capacity. The detainee alleged that the sheriff acquired personal knowledge of the fact that disabled prisoners assigned to a certain jail division had sustained injuries because shower and toilet facilities were not equipped with appropriate grab bars, toilet seats, and shower seats, and the detainee alleged that despite revising the jail's housing assignment policy for detainees who used wheelchairs, the sheriff refused to revise the policy for other disabled detainees. The court also found that the detainee sufficiently alleged that there was an official policy allowing disabled detainees to be housed in non-accessible housing units that continued to exist despite the knowledge that the policy had caused serious injuries to disabled detainees. (Cook County Jail, Illinois)

  20. DISCIPLINE: Property Interest, Assistance, Evidence, Witness, Good Time, Hearing, Punitive Segregation

  21. GOOD TIME: Revocation

    Brooks v. Prack, 77 F.Supp.3d 301 (W.D.N.Y. 2014). A state inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against prison officials, alleging due process violations in connection with the rehearing of a misbehavior report. The officials moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. The district court denied the motion. The court held that summary judgment would be premature and that the penalty imposed on the inmate implicated a property interest protected by due process. The court also found that the inmate stated procedural due process claims that he was denied adequate assistance and that he was denied the opportunity to present evidence. A penalty of 20 months in a special housing unit (SHU), loss of privileges, and loss of 20 months of recommended good time had been imposed on the inmate who was found guilty in a...

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