Part one: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

Position:Case overview
 
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  1. ACCESS TO COURTS: Evidence, Damages

  2. CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT: Food, Safety

  3. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Officer on Prisoner Assault

  4. LIABILITY: Punitive Damages

  5. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

    Abascal v. Fleckenstein, 820 F.3d 561 (2d Cir. 2016). A state prisoner brought a pro se [section] 1983 action against corrections officers, alleging that he was deprived of meals and was physically assaulted in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. The district court denied the officers' motion to vacate a jury verdict or for remittitur, and entered judgment, upon the jury verdict, in favor of the prisoner. The judge awarded one dollar in nominal damages and $150,000 in punitive damages. The officers appealed. The appeals court vacated and remanded. The appeals court held that a report authored by the Correctional Association of New York regarding conditions at the correctional facility where the prisoner was incarcerated was hearsay, was not admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule, was not admissible under the public records exception to the hearsay rule, and the admission of the report was not a harmless error. The court noted that the report included statements by other inmates alleging abuse at the facility, as well as the unidentified report's authors' views about the pervasive culture of abuse at the facility. According to the court, the report showed a lack of trustworthiness because it was not issued until six months after a visit to the facility, there was no showing as to when the interviews with inmates were conducted, and the report was not made by someone with personal knowledge of underlying information as it was unclear who authored the report. (Attica Correctional Facility, New York)

  6. CIVIL RIGHTS: Religion

  7. RELIGION: RLUIPA--Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Beards, Hats, Articles

  8. RULES & REGULATIONS-PRISONER: Religion, Religious Articles

    Ali v. Stephens, 822 F.3d 776 (5th Cir. 2016). A state inmate, a Sunni Muslim, filed a civil rights action pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) against the Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division (TDCJ-CID), challenging prison policies that prohibited him from wearing a fist-length beard and from wearing religious head wear, specifically a Kufi, throughout the prison facility. The inmate was a "trusty" inmate, which is the lowest security level classification, and lived in a dormitory outside of a maximum security prison's fence line. He was an observant Muslim, who believed that his faith requires him to have a beard that is not shorter than a fist's length, which is approximately four inches, and to wear his kufi at all times. After a bench trial, the district court granted the inmate declaratory and injunctive relief. The director appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that: (1) the ban on four-inch beards served a compelling interest in combatting transfer of contraband; (2) but the beard ban was not the least restrictive means of achieving the interest; (3) the ban did not further a compelling interest of aiding in identification; (4) the ban did not serve a compelling interest in cost control; (5) the headwear policy was not the least restrictive means of serving an interest in preventing transfer of contraband; (6) the headwear policy was not the least restrictive means to serve a compelling interest in identification; and (7) the headwear policy did not serve a compelling interest in cost control. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutions Division, Michael Unit).

  9. ACCESS TO COURTS: In Forma Pauperis, PLRA--Prison Litigation Reform Act

  10. CIVIL RIGHTS: Civil Commitment

  11. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Civil Commitment

    Aruanno v. Davis, 168 F.Supp.3d 711 (D.N.J. 2016). A detainee who was civilly committed in a special treatment unit under the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act brought three civil rights actions against the state and the assistant superintendent of the special treatment unit, based on alleged violations of his privacy rights and denial of access to a law library and materials for legal research. The detainee sought to proceed in forma pauperis. The district court denied the motion. The court held that: (1) the court would apply the provision limiting the number of frivolous in forma pauperis petitions to the detainee's actions; (2) the detainee's allegations were insufficient to demonstrate that he was in imminent danger of serious physical injury; (3) the court would not appoint a guardian to represent the detainee; and (4) the former civil rights actions brought by the detainee were not improperly dismissed. (Special Treatment Unit under the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act)

  12. ACCESS TO COURTS: In Forma Pauperis, PLRA-Prison Litigation Report Act

  13. CIVIL RIGHTS: Civil Commitment

  14. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Civil Commitment

    Aruanno v. Davis, 168 F.Supp.3d 719 (D.N.J. 2016). A detainee who was civilly committed under New Jersey's Sexually Violent Predator Act filed application to proceed in forma pauperis in two civil rights actions against a civil commitment unit supervisor, and a petition for a writ of mandamus against the State of New Jersey. The district court denied the application. The court held that the detainee failed to establish that the imminent danger exception to the discretionary "three strikes" bar applied, and that the detainee was not entitled to the appointment of a guardian ad litem. (Special Treatment Unit under the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act)

  15. CIVIL RIGHTS: Verbal Harassment, Use of Force, Grievance

  16. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES, PRISONER: Right of Access

  17. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

    Banks v. County of Westchester, 168 F.Supp.3d 682 (S.D.N.Y. 2016). An inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against corrections officers, claiming that the officers engaged in conduct that violated the inmate's rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments by assaulting the inmate and fabricating criminal documents. The officers moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that: (1) the inmate sufficiently stated Eighth Amendment excessive force claims against two corrections officers; (2) the inmate failed to state an Eighth Amendment violation claim based on verbal harassment; (3) the inmate failed to state a Fourteenth Amendment violation claim based on confinement in a secure housing (4) the inmate failed to state a Fourteenth Amendment violation claim based on alleged destruction of grievances; and (5) the inmate failed to state a Fourteenth Amendment violation claim based on deprivation of property. The inmate alleged that, on clearly identified occasions, a corrections officer smashed the inmate's hand against an iron steel cell door, that another corrections officer smashed the inmate's face on the floor and kicked disinfectant in the inmate's eyes, and that the inmate suffered injuries, including a fractured finger, soft tissue damage, shattered nerves, arthritis, and loss of vision. (Westchester Department of Corrections, New York)

  18. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Medical Care

  19. MEDICAL CARE: Failure to Provide Care, Delay in Care

  20. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Medical Care, Failure to Protect

    Barton v. Taber, 820 F.3d 958 (8th Cir. 2016). The personal representative for the estate of a pretrial detainee who died of a heart condition in a holding room of a detention center following his arrest on intoxication-related charges filed suit under [section] 1983 and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (ACRA), alleging that a state trooper and other defendants denied the detainee medical care in violation of his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The trooper filed a motion to dismiss on the basis of qualified and statutory immunity. The district court dismissed claims against trooper in his official capacity, but otherwise denied the motion. The trooper appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that allegations in the complaint were sufficient to create the inference that the trooper was deliberately indifferent to the detainee's need for medical attention, demonstrated that the detainee's constitutional right to medical treatment was clearly established, and alleged facts sufficient to create the inference of malice, such that the trooper was not entitled to statutory immunity under the ACRA. The representative alleged that the trooper had direct contact with the detainee in the hours before his death, that the trooper responded to the scene of the detainee's single-vehicle accident, that the detainee fell down, could not stand or walk on his own, and became unresponsive such that a police officer had to check for a pulse, that the trooper helped an officer lift the detainee from the ground and place him in a patrol car, that the trooper transported the detainee to the detention center, that the detainee thereafter could not answer questions and could not remain seated without falling over, and that the trooper had direct knowledge of the detainee's obvious need for prompt medical attention and yet took no steps to secure such care for him. The court noted that a reasonable officer in the year in question would have recognized that failing to seek medical care for an intoxicated detainee who exhibited symptoms substantially more severe than ordinary intoxication violated the detainee's constitutional rights, all the more so when the surrounding circumstances, including the fact that the detainee had been in a vehicular accident and had become unresponsive, indicated that a medical emergency existed. (Arkansas State Police, Hot Spring County Detention Center)

  21. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Release, Supervision

  22. LIABILITY: Failure to Supervise, Failure to Protect

  23. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Release

  24. RELEASE: Supervised Release, Pretrial Release

    Ben v. United States...

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