Part two: case summaries by major topic.

Position::P. 29-67 - Case overview
 
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  1. ACCESS TO COURT

    U.S. District Court

    ACCESS TO COUNSEL

    DUE PROCESS

    Allen v. Clements, 930 F.Supp.2d 1252 (D.Colo. 2013). Inmates in the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) who had been sentenced to indeterminate terms of imprisonment under the Colorado Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act (SOLSA) brought a class action against CDOC officials, alleging under [section] 1983 that the officials were arbitrarily denying them sex offender treatment and interfering with their access to counsel and courts. The officials moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court granted the motion. The court held that: (1) the inmates failed to state an Eighth Amendment claim; (2) terminating one inmate's treatment because of polygraphs did not violate due process; (3) denial of re-enrollment requests did not implicate the inmates' liberty interests; (4) termination procedures comported with procedural due process; and (5) the inmates failed to state a substantive due process claim. (Colorado Department of Corrections)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    PLRA--Prison Litigation Reform Act

    RETALIATION FOR LEGAL ACTION

    Childs v. Miller, 713 F.3d 1262 (10th Cir. 2013). A state prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action alleging prison employees retaliated against him for exercising his federal constitutional right to file administrative grievances about his medical care. The district court dismissed the action for failure to state a claim. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that the defendant had three strikes under the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) forma pauperis provision, and that dismissal of a complaint as repetitive and an abuse of process constituted a strike under the PLRA's forma pauperis provision. (Lawton Correctional Facility, Oklahoma)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    APPOINTED ATTORNEY

    EVALUATION

    IN FORMA PAUPERIS

    Navejar v. Iyiola, 718 F.3d 692 (7th Cir. 2013). A prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against prison guards claiming that the guards used excessive force to subdue him after he punched a prison guard. The district court granted summary judgment for the guards. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The appeals court held that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the prisoner's request for the appointment of counsel under the federal in forma pauperis statute in the prisoner's [section] 1983 action, where the court focused on the prisoner's competency to try his case instead of whether the prisoner appeared competent to litigate his own claims. The appeals court found that the trial court failed to address the prisoner's personal abilities and allegations that he had limited education, mental illness, language difficulties, and lacked access to other resources, and the court applied the appellate review standard of whether the recruitment of counsel would affect the outcome of the case. (Stateville Correctional Center, Illinois)

    U.S. District Court

    DUE PROCESS

    TELEPHONE

    WRITING MATERIAL

    Nelson v. District of Columbia, 928 F.Supp.2d 210 (D.D.C. 2013). A detainee brought a [section] 1983 claim against the District of Columbia arising from his stay in jail. The defendant moved to dismiss and the district court granted the motion. The court held that denial of one telephone call and access to stationery during the detainee's five-day stay in a "Safe Cell," which was located in the jail's infirmary, did not implicate his First Amendment right of free speech or right of access to courts. The court noted that denial of the detainee's request to have the cell cleaned was for the non-punitive reason that the detainee would not be in the cell that long. (D.C. Jail, District of Columbia)

    U.S. District Court

    EVIDENCE

    WITNESS

    Slevin v. Board of Com'rs for County of Dona Ana, 934 F.Supp.2d 1282 (D.N.M 2013). A detainee brought an action against a county board of commissioners, detention center director, and medical director, alleging violations of his rights in regards to his medical care. After a verdict in favor of the detainee, the defendants moved for a new trial based on nondisclosure of the existence of attorney-client relationship between the detainee's counsel and a witness, who was a lead plaintiff in other proceedings. The district court denied the motion, finding that failure to volunteer information about their representation of the witness was not fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct, and did not substantially interfere with the defense. The detainee alleged that, because of his mental illness, officials at the Detention Center kept him in administrative segregation for virtually the entire 22 months of his incarceration, without humane conditions of confinement or adequate medical care, and without periodic review of his confinement, causing his physical and mental deterioration, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The jury awarded the detainee $3 million in punitive damages against the Detention Center Director, and $3.5 million in punitive damages against the facility medical director. The jury fixed the amount of compensatory damages at $15.5 million, which included $500,000 for each month that detainee was incarcerated, plus an additional $1 million for each year since the detainee's release from custody. (Dona Ana County Detention Center, New Mexico)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    TRIAL

    Villegas v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, 709 F.3d 563 (6th Cir. 2013). An Immigration detainee filed a [section] 1983 action against a metropolitan government alleging deliberate indifference to ha serious medical needs after she was shackled during the final stages of labor and post-partum recovery. The district court altered judgment in the detainee's favor. A jury awarded the detainee $200,000 in damages. The defendants appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The appeals court held that summary judgment should not have been granted by the district court, where there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether the pregnant immigration detainee presented a flight risk, whether the officers who accompanied ha to the hospital when she went into labor were aware of the hospital's no restraint order, and whether the detainee was at risk of physical or psychological harm as a result of being shackled. The appeals court also found genuine issues of material fact as to whether the hospital prescribed a breast pump to allow the detainee to express her breast milk postpartum, and whether a layperson would recognize the need to provide the detainee with a breast pump. The court declined to reassign the case on remand to another district court judge. The court found that reassignment was not warranted, even though the district judge had entered summary judgment in the detainee's favor on her Eighth Amendment claims, and had made critical comments about the government's legal positions and its counsel, where the judge's comments reflected that he was attempting to enforce parameters that he established for trial. The court noted that the judge had made a number of rulings favorable to the government. (Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Davison County Sheriffs Office, Tennessee)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    INITIAL APPEARANCE

    Wilson v. Montano, 715 F.3d847 (10th Cir. 2013). An arrestee brought a [section] 1983 action against a county sheriff, several deputies, and the warden of the county's detention center, alleging that he was unlawfully detained, and that his right to a prompt probable cause determination was violated. The district court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. The defendants appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded in part The detainee had been held for 11 days without a hearing and without charges being filed. The appeals court held that the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity from the claim that they violated the arrestee's right to a prompt post-arrest probable cause determination, where the Fourth Amendment right to a prompt probable cause determination was clearly established at the time. The court held that the arrestee sufficiently alleged that the arresting sheriffs deputy was personally involved in the deprivation of his Fourth Amendment right to a prompt probable cause hearing, as required to support his [section] 1983 claim against the deputy. The arrestee alleged that he was arrested without a warrant, and that the deputy wrote out a criminal complaint but failed to file it in any court with jurisdiction to hear a misdemeanor charge until after he was released from the county's detention facility, despite having a clear duty under New Mexico law to ensure that the arrestee received a prompt probable cause determination. According to the court, under New Mexico law, the warden of the county's detention facility and the county sheriff were responsible for policies or customs that operated and were enforced by their subordinates, and for any failure to adequately train their subordinates. The court noted that statutes charged both the warden and the sheriff with responsibility to supervise subordinates in diligently filing a criminal complaint or information and ensuring that arrestees received a prompt probable cause hearing. The court found that the arrestee sufficiently alleged that the warden promulgated policies that caused the arrestee's prolonged detention without a probable cause hearing, and that the warden acted with the requisite mental state, as required to support his [section] 1983 claim against the warden, regardless of whether the arrestee ever had direct contact with the warden. The arrestee alleged that the warden did not require filing of written criminal complaints, resulting in the detainees' being held without receiving a probable cause hearing, and that the warden acted with deliberate indifference to routine constitutional violations at the facility.

    The court held that the arrestee...

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