Part two: case summaries by major topic.

Position::P. 33-75 - Case overview
 
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  1. ACCESS TO COURT

    U.S. Appeals Court

    LAW LIBRARY

    Burd v. Sessler, 702 F.3d 429 (7th Cir. 2012). A state prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against prison officials, alleging that they deprived him of access to the courts by preventing him from using library resources to prepare a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The district court dismissed the action and the prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed, finding that the claim was barred by Heck v. Humphrey. The court noted that such a claim for damages would require the prisoner to show that the deprivation of access hindered his efforts to successfully withdraw his guilty plea, which would necessarily implicate the validity of the prisoner's conviction that he incurred on account of that guilty plea. The court noted that even if the prisoner was no longer in custody at the time of his [section] 1983 suit, he could have pursued federal habeas relief while in custody, but failed to do so. Under Illinois practice, the prisoner had thirty days to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, but for the first twenty-nine days of this period, he was held at prison facilities that lacked library resources of any kind. (Sheridan Correctional Center, Illinois)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    EXHAUSTION

    FILING FEES

    PLRA- Prison Litigation Reform Act

    Gonzalez v. Seal, 702 F.3d 785 (5 Cir. 2012). A state prisoner, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brought a [section] 1983 action against employees of a department of corrections (DOC), alleging harassment, excessive force, denial of medical care, denial of due process, and assault and battery. After denying the employees' motion for summary judgment, the district court denied the employees' motion for reconsideration. The employees appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded, finding that the district court did not have the discretion to waive the pre-filing requirement of exhausting administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The court noted that the prisoner exhausted administrative remedies after his lawsuit was underway, but PLRA required exhaustion to occur prior to filing. (Louisiana Department of Corrections)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    DUE PROCESS

    SPEEDY TRIAL

    Holloway v. Delaware County Sheriff, 700 F.3d 1063 (7th Cir. 2012). An arrestee brought a [section] 1983 action, alleging that a sheriff, who was sued in his official capacity, violated his rights by detaining him without charges for nine days, The district court granted summary judgment for the sheriff and the arrestee appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that the sheriff did not violate the substantive due process rights of the arrestee, where the sheriff brought the arrestee before court for an initial hearing within 72 hours of his arrest, followed the court's order in holding the arrestee without bond, and released the arrestee promptly, within 72 hours of the initial hearing, excluding intervening weekend days, when the prosecutor did not file charges within the time permitted by the court. (Delaware County Jail, Wisconsin)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    EVIDENCE

    Livers v. Schenck, 700 F.3d 340 (8 Cir. 2012). Two pretrial detainees, who were arrested for murder, but who were subsequently released after their charges were dropped, brought a [section] 1983 action against a county sheriff and investigating officers, alleging violations of their Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court entered an order denying the defendants' motions for summary judgment, and they appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, denied in part, and remanded. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by fact issues as to whether a detainee's confession was coerced, and whether officers fabricated evidence. The court held that the sheriff could not be liable under [section] 1983 for his alleged failure to train investigating officers not to fabricate evidence, since any reasonable officer would know that fabricating evidence was unacceptable. (Cass County Sheriff's Office, Nebraska)

    U.S. District Court

    DUE PROCESS

    EQUAL PROTECTION

    LEGAL ASSISTANCE

    U.S. v. Maricopa County, Ariz., 915 F.Supp.2d 1073 (D.Ariz. 2012). The United States filed an action against a county, the county sheriff's office, and the sheriff in his official capacity, relating to treatment of Latinos, including jail detainees, and asserting claims for violations of the Fourth Amendment, retaliation in violation of the First Amendment, violations of equal protection and due process, and discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in violation of Title VI and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. The defendants filed motions to dismiss. The district court denied the county's motion, and granted the sheriff and sheriff's office motions in part and denied in part. The court held that the sheriff's office was an entity that was not capable of being sued in its own name The court found that allegations that the county sheriff's office and the sheriff conducted jail operations in English and provided inadequate language assistance to the large jail population of Latino inmates who were limited English proficient (LEP) individuals, thereby denying the Latino LEP inmates meaningful access to jail programs such as sanitary needs, food, clothing, legal information, and religious services, stated a claim for disparate impact discrimination under Title VI by programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio, Arizona)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    LAW LIBRARY

    RIGHT TO COUNSEL

    U.S. v. Tyerman, 701 F.3d 552 (8 Cir. 2012). A defendant was convicted in district court of being a felon in possession of a firearm and he appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. After a trial, the defendant was convicted in the district court of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of a stolen firearm. His motion for acquittal or new trial was denied and the defendant appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that the government's passive conduct in receiving information regarding the location of the defendant's gun, from the defendant's counsel, did not violate the defendant's Sixth Amendment right-to-counsel. The court found that the defendant's conduct in creating handcuff keys and practicing the use of them constituted a substantial step, as an element of attempt, with respect to escaping from pretrial incarceration, for purposes of using attempted escape as the basis for a sentence enhancement for obstruction of justice. At sentencing, a U.S. Marshal testified that prison guards discovered two homemade handcuff keys in the defendant's cell. According to the Marshal, during the investigation, other inmates revealed the defendant's plans to escape from jail and his use of the law library (which lacked surveillance) to practice removing handcuffs. (U. S. District Court, Iowa)

    U.S. District Court

    EVIDENCE

    EXPERT WITNESS

    Barnes v. District of Columbia, 924 F.Supp.2d 74 (D.D.C. 2013). Inmates at local jails brought a class action, under [section] 1983, against the District of Columbia, alleging that their over-detentions violated their Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment rights. Following certification of the classes, the parties filed pretrial motions to exclude or limit certain evidence from being introduced at the liability trial. The district court granted the motions in part and denied in part. The court held that: (1) records of inmate over-detentions constituted admissible hearsay evidence; (2) evidence of a settlement in a related class action was admissible under the "other purposes" exception of the rule governing admission of settlement evidence; (3) an expert's testimony regarding the total number of over-detentions occurring during particular periods was admissible; and (4) evidence regarding strip searches performed on inmates was not admissible. The District of Columbia attacked the methodology of the expert, but the court noted that the expert had years of experience reviewing inmate jackets and other data to determine whether an inmate was over-detained, had personally reviewed hundreds of inmate jackets, and had educated himself on the system of collecting inmate data. (District of Columbia Department of Corrections)

    U.S. District Court

    APPOINTED ATTORNEY

    IN FORMA PAUPERIS

    LEGAL MATERIAL

    LAW LIBRARY

    Cox v. LNU, 924 F.Supp.2d 1269 (D.Kan. 2013). A state inmate brought a pro se civil rights action in state court. The defendants removed the action to federal court. The inmate moved to secure case law cited in the defendants' court filings and for the appointment of counsel. The district court denied the motions. The court held that: (1) the defendants were not required to furnish copies of unpublished cases that were available through electronic providers; (2) the court would not exercise its discretion to require the defendants to provide copies of published decisions; (3) the inmate's declaration that he was "broke" and had "no money or assets for anything" did not qualify as a motion to proceed in forma pauperis; and (4) even if the inmate qualified for in forma pauperis status, discretionary authority to request appointment of counsel would not be exercised. (Johnson County Jail, Kansas)

    U.S. District Court

    DUE PROCESS

    LEGAL MAIL

    RETALIATION

    Duran v. Merline, 923 F.Supp.2d 702 (D.N.J.,2013). A former pretrial detainee at a county detention facility brought a pro se [section] 1983 action against various facility officials and employees, the company which provided food and sanitation services to the facility, and the medical services provider, alleging various constitutional torts related to his pretrial detention. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motions in part and denied in part. The district court held that fact issues precluded summary judgment on: (1)...

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