Part two: case summaries by major topic.

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  1. ACCESS TO COURT

    U.S. District Court PLRA- Prison Litigation Reform Act EXHAUSTION

    Annoreno v. Sheriff of Kankakee County, 823 F.Supp.2d 860 (C.D.M. 2011). A federal pretrial detainee brought a [section] 1983 action against a county sheriff, correctional officers, and others, alleging that the officers assaulted him while in their custody. The defendants moved for summary judgment and the district court granted the motion. The court held that the detainee failed to exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) prior to filing suit. According to the court, the detainee's submission of a "sick call slip," rather than an "inmate grievance form," regarding an alleged assault committed upon him by corrections officers, was inadequate to exhaust administrative remedies under PLRA, and thus the district court lacked jurisdiction over the detainee's [section] 1983 action. The court noted that sick call slips were submitted directly to medical department and not forwarded to administrative staff who received inmate grievance forms, the inmate handbook required that complaints be submitted in writing on an inmate grievance form, and the detainee knew that grievance forms were used in the facility and had filed multiple grievance forms prior to the incident in question. (Jerome Combs Detention Center, Kankakee County, Illinois)

    U.S. District Court LAW LIBRARY TELEPHONE

    Bradley v. Mason, 833 F.Supp.2d 763 (N.D.Ohio 2011). State inmates filed a [section] 1983 action asserting multiple causes of action pertaining to their convictions and conditions of confinement. The district court dismissed the case, finding that class certification was not warranted, where the inmates made no attempt to define the class, many claims were specific to named plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs were proceeding pro se. The court held that a pretrial detainee had no reasonable expectation of privacy in telephone calls made from within jail to individuals other than his attorney, and thus jail officials did not violate the detainee's Fourth Amendment rights by monitoring his calls to his former spouse.

    The court held that the county inmates lacked standing to raise a claim that the county jail's lack of a law library violated their due process rights, where the inmates did not claim that they attempted to exercise the right of self-representation and did not otherwise have access to legal materials. According to the court, the county jail's removal of its law library was rationally related to its interest in reducing expenses, and thus did not violate the inmates' equal protection rights. The court noted "... because Plaintiffs claim for law library is not explicitly or implicitly guaranteed by the Constitution, it is not a fundamental right. Therefore, the prison's policy need only bear a rational relationship to a legitimate state interest." (Cuyahoga County Jail, Ohio)

    U.S. District Court ACCESS TO ATTORNEY DUE PROCESS

    Franco-Gonzales v. Holder, 828 F.Supp.2d 1133 (C.D.Cal. 2011). Immigrant detainees brought a putative class action on behalf of mentally disabled detainees being held in custody without counsel during removal proceedings, asserting claims under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Rehabilitation Act, and Due Process Clause. A detainee who was a native and citizen of Belarus, and who had been deemed mentally incompetent to represent himself in removal proceedings, moved for a preliminary injunction. The district court granted the motion in part. The court held that: (1) the detainee was entitled to a custody hearing at which the government had to justify his continued detention on the basis that he was a flight risk or would be a danger to the community; (2) a qualified representative for a mentally incompetent immigrant detainee may be an attorney, law student or law graduate directly supervised by a retained attorney, or an accredited representative; (3) the detainee's father could not serve as a qualified representative for detainee at a custody hearing; (4) appointment of a qualified representative to represent the detainee at a custody hearing was a reasonable accommodation under the Rehabilitation Act; (5) the likelihood of irreparable harm and the balance of hardships favored the detainee; and (6) a mandatory injunction was warranted. (Sacramento County Jail, California)

    U.S. District Court INVESTIGATION TELEPHONE

    Hill v. Donoghue, 815 F.Supp.2d 583 (E.D.N.Y. 2011). An inmate, proceeding pro se, brought an action against an Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) and the United States, asserting various claims under Bivens and the Wiretap Act in relation to his jailhouse phone calls. The defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, which the district court granted. The court held that the AUSAs were entitled to absolute immunity from claims relating to their use of the tapes. The but court found that an AUSA was not entitled to absolute immunity for ordering the recordings, where the alleged order to make warrantless recordings of the inmate's jailhouse phone calls was investigative, rather than prosecutorial, and therefore, the AUSA was not entitled to absolute immunity from the inmate's Wiretap Act or Bivens Fourth Amendment claims. The court found that the inmate did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his jailhouse phone calls, and therefore, the warrantless recording of his calls did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights. The court noted that the jail telephones played a recorded warning that calls might be recorded and monitored, and the inmate's use of a jailhouse phone after hearing the warning constituted implied consent to the recording of his calls. (Eastern District of New York, Nassau County Correctional Center, New York)

    U.S. District Court EVIDENCE EXHAUSTION PLRA- Prison Litigation Reform Act TRANSFER

    Pauls v. Green, 816 F.Supp.2d 961 (D.Idaho 2011). A female pretrial detainee brought an action against a county, county officials, and a jail guard, alleging that she was coerced into having inappropriate sexual contact with the guard. The defendants moved to dismiss and for summary judgment, and the plaintiff moved to compel discovery and for sanctions. The district court granted the motions, in part. The court held that the detainee was not required to file grievances after being transferred to a state prison before filing her [section] 1983 action, in order to satisfy the administrative exhaustion requirement under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The court noted that the county jail grievance procedures were not available to detainees after they transferred, and the county did not offer any assistance to the detainee after learning of the alleged assaults.

    The court found that neither the county nor the county sheriff was deliberately indifferent in failing to train or supervise county jail guards to not sexually assault jail detainees, and thus, the female detainee could not demonstrate that the county or sheriff was liable under [section] 1983. According to the court, the guards did not need specific training to know that they should refrain from sexually assaulting detainees, and there was no showing that the general training program for guards was deficient or that there was a pattern of prior abuses at county jail. The court held that the summary judgment affidavit of the pretrial detainee's expert, containing the opinion that county officials exhibited deliberate indifference to the rights and safety of jail detainees in training or supervising jail staff, and that sexual improprieties on the part of staff were easily accomplished and rarely punished, was insufficient to avoid summary judgment, where the affidavit was conclusory, and without factual predicate. (Adams County Jail, Idaho)

    U.S. District Court EVIDENCE INTERROGATION

    Tillman v. Burge, 813 F.Supp.2d 946 (N.D.III. 2011). A former prisoner, who served nearly 24 years in prison for rape and murder before his conviction was vacated and charges were dismissed, brought a [section] 1983 action against a city, county, police officers, police supervisors, and prosecutors, as well as a former mayor, alleging deprivation of a fair trial, wrongful conviction, a Monell claim, conspiracy under [section] 1985 and [section] 1986, and various state law claims. The defendants filed separate motions to dismiss. The district court granted the motions in part and denied in part. The court held that the former prisoner's allegations that police officers engaged in suppressing, destroying, and preventing discovery of exculpatory evidence, including instruments of torture used to coerce the prisoner's confession, stated a [section] 1983 claim against the police officers for a Brady violation, despite the officers' contention that the prisoner was aware of everything that he claimed was withheld at the time of the trial. The court found that the former prisoner's complaint, alleging that municipal officials acted in collusion with a former mayor and a state's attorney and high-ranking police officials to deflect public scrutiny of the actions of police officers that suppressed and prevented discovery of exculpatory evidence, which prolonged prisoner's incarceration, stated a [section] 1983 claim against municipal officials for deprivation of fair trial and wrongful conviction.

    According to the court, a prosecutor was not entitled to absolute immunity from the [section] 1983 complaint by the former prisoner, alleging that the prosecutor personally participated in the prisoner's interrogation and that of a codefendant, and then suppressed the truth concerning those events. The court found that the allegation put the prosecutor's conduct outside the scope of his prosecutorial function.

    The court held that the complaint by the former prisoner, alleging that the former prosecutor encouraged, condoned, and permitted the use of torture against the prisoner in order to secure a...

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