Part two: case summaries by major topic.

Position:P. 67-104 - Case overview
 
FREE EXCERPT
  1. MAIL

    U.S. Appeals Court

    BULK MAIL

    CENSORSHIP

    Mays v. Springborn, 719 F.3d 631 (7th Cir. 2013). A former state prisoner brought an action against prison officials, asserting claims based on strip searches at prisons and alleging retaliation for his complaints about the searches, denial of his request for a dietary supplements which he considered to be religious necessities, inadequacy of his diet, failure to issue certain winter clothing items, and censorship of pages in a magazine mailed to him. The district granted summary judgment in favor of the officials on the claims about prison food and clothing and granted the officials judgment as a matter of law on the claims about strip searches, retaliation, and censorship. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, vacated the judgment with respect to the strip searches, and remanded. On remand, the district court entered judgment, upon a jury verdict, in favor of the officials as to the strip search claims, and the prisoner again appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The appeals court held that: (1) even if there was a valid penological reason for the strip searches conducted on a prisoner, the manner in which the searches were conducted was itself required to pass constitutional muster, and (2) a jury instruction requiring the prisoner to negate the possibility that strip searches would have occurred even if there had been no retaliatory motive was plain error. (Stateville Correctional Center, Illinois)

    U.S. District Court

    BULK MAIL

    DELIVERY

    PROHIBITION-PUBLICATIONS

    REFUSAL

    REJECTING MAIL

    Prison Legal News v. Babeu, 933 F.Supp.2d 1188 (D.Ariz. 2013). A non-profit organization that produced and distributed a monthly journal and books to inmates brought an action against county jail officers and mailroom employees, alleging that the defendants violated its First Amendment and due process rights by failing to deliver its materials to its subscribers at the jail. The parties cross-moved for partial summary judgment. The court granted the motions in part, denied in part, and deferred in part. The court held that the jail's policy limiting incoming inmate correspondence to one-page and postcards did not violate the First Amendment, where there was an apparent common-sense connection between the jail's goal of reducing contraband and limiting the number of pages a particular piece of correspondence contained, and sufficient alternative avenues of communication remained open for publishers who wished to communicate with inmates at the jail. But the court held that the jail's failure to give the non-profit organization notice and the opportunity to appeal the jail's refusal to deliver its materials to inmates violated the organization's procedural due process rights.

    The court ruled that the blanket ban on newspapers and magazines violated clearly established law, and therefore neither the county jail mailroom employees nor their supervisors were entitled to qualified immunity from the [section] 1983 First Amendment claim arising from employees' failure to deliver the organization's materials to inmates. According to the court, the law was clear that blanket bans on newspapers and magazines in prisons violated the First Amendment, and it was objectively unreasonable for the employees to throw away mail, or refuse to deliver it, based upon a perceived blanket ban on newspapers and magazines. Because the county jail mailroom uniformly enforced the unconstitutional county policy and allowed books from only four publishers, the county was subject to liability for First Amendment violations in [section] 1983 action.

    The court held that there was no evidence that mailroom employees, their supervisors, or command staff at the county jail were motivated by evil motive or intent when they violated the non-profit publisher's First Amendment and due process rights by discarding publisher's materials without providing the publisher opportunity to contest or appeal the non-deliverability decision, or that those individuals' unconstitutional actions involved reckless or callous indifference to the publisher's federally protected rights, as would support an award of punitive damages against the individuals in the publisher's [section] 1983 action. (Pinal County Jail, Arizona)

    U.S. District Court

    BULK MAIL

    DELIVERY

    LIMITATION

    NOTICE

    PROHIBITION-PUBLICATIONS

    REGULATIONS

    Prison Legal News v. Columbia County, 942 F.Supp.2d 1068 (D.Or. 2013). A publisher filed a [section] 1983 action alleging that a county and its officials violated the First Amendment by rejecting dozens of its publications and letters mailed to inmates incarcerated in its jail and violated the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to provide it or the inmates with the notice of, and opportunity to, appeal the jail's rejection of its publications and letters. A bench trial was held, resulting in a judgment for the publisher. The court held that: (1) the policy prohibiting inmates from receiving mail that was not on a postcard violated the First Amendment; (2) the county had a policy of prohibiting inmates from receiving magazines; (3) the county failed to provide adequate notice of withholding of incoming mail by jail authorities; (4) entry of a permanent injunction prohibiting officials from enforcing the postcard-only policy was warranted; and (5) a permanent injunction prohibiting officials from enforcing the prohibition against magazines was not warranted. (Columbia County Jail, Oregon)

  2. MEDICAL CARE

    U.S. District Court

    HEARING IMPAIRED

    POLICIES

    TRANSLATOR

    Armstrong v. Brown, 939 F.Supp.2d 1012 (N.D.Cal. 2013). Prisoners brought a class action against the Governor of California, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and a number of related directors and executive officers, seeking to enforce prior orders requiring the defendants to provide sign language interpreters (SLI), and to hold the defendants in contempt for violations. The district court granted the motion to enforce the prior orders. The court held that setting a policy which failed to provide SLIs for hearing- impaired inmates during rounds by psychiatric technicians warranted enforcement of the order against the defendants, and the defendants' failure to provide SLIs for hearing-impaired inmates at classes attended by deaf inmates also warranted an enforcement order. But the court decided that civil contempt sanctions were not appropriate because officials were making substantial efforts to reach compliance with the orders by voluntarily increasing both contract and civil services positions for qualified SLIs. (Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections)

    U.S. District Court

    PRETRIAL DETAINEE

    TRANSFER

    TRANSPORTATION

    Benton v. Rousseau, 940 F.Supp.2d 1370 (M.D.Fla. 2013). A pretrial detainee, who alleged that he was beaten by drivers while being transported to prison, brought a [section] 1983 action against drivers of a private company which was in the business of transporting prisoners throughout the State of Florida. The district court held that the inmate established a [section] 1983 First Amendment retaliation claim and a [section] 1983 Fourteenth Amendment excessive force claim. According to the court: (1) the prisoner engaged in constitutionally protected speech because he complained about conditions of his confinement in the transport vehicle; (2) the driver of transport vehicle engaged in adverse or retaliatory conduct by pulling the inmate out of the van and onto the ground and beating and kicking the inmate; and (3) there was a causal connection between the driver's retaliatory action and inmate's protected speech, in that the incident would not have occurred but for the inmate's complaints regarding conditions of his confinement The court noted that the inmate's injuries included headaches and facial scars, and his injuries, although perhaps not serious, amounted to more than de minimis injuries. The court ruled that the inmate was entitled to $45,012 in compensatory damages because the inmate had scarring on his face and suffered from headaches and numbness in his side, he suffered the loss of a $12 shirt, and he suffered mental and emotional anguish as a result of actions of drivers of transport van, who kicked and beat him. The court held that the inmate was entitled to punitive damages in the amount of $15,000 based on the violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by the drivers. The court noted that although the drivers were no longer employed by their private employer, the employer did not investigate after the incident nor did it punish the drivers for their actions, and imposition of punitive damages would deter the drivers from taking similar actions in the future. (United States Prisoner Transport, Hernando County Jail, Florida)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    INADEQUATE CARE

    Budd v. Motley, 711 F.3d 840 (7th Cir. 2013). A state inmate filed a [section] 1983 action alleging that, as a pretrial detainee, he was subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement at a county jail and that the sheriff was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. The district court dismissed the complaint, and the inmate appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. The appeals court held that the detainee's allegations were sufficient to state a plausible claim under the Due Process Clause for subjecting him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The prisoner alleged that: (1) on one occasion he was confined 1 with eight inmates in a portion of the county jail intended for three; (2) he had to sleep on the floor alongside broken windows and cracked toilets; (3) on another occasion he and other inmates had to sleep on the floor even though shower water leaked there; (4) cells had broken windows, exposed wiring, extensive rust, sinks without running water, toilets covered in mold and spider webs, and a...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP