Part two: case summaries by major topic.

Position:P. 33-77 - Case overview
 
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  1. ACCESS TO COURT

    U.S. Appeals Court

    EVIDENCE

    Burgess v. Fischer, 735 F.3d 462 (6th Cir. 2013). An arrestee brought an action under [section] 1983 against a county board of commissioners, sheriff, deputies, and jail nurse, alleging violations of his constitutional rights during his arrest. The defendants moved for summary judgment and the district court granted the motion. The arrestee appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, vacated in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The appeals court held that: (1) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the force used against the arrestee was reasonable; (2) a corrections officer and the jail nurse were not liable for failure to prevent deputy sheriffs from using excessive force, absent a showing that the nurse and officer had both the opportunity and the means to prevent the harm from occurring; (3) the nurse was not liable for deliberate indifference to the arrestee's medical needs, where the arrestee's latent cranial injury was not so obvious that a lay person would easily have recognized the necessity for a doctor's attention; (4) the county board of commissioners was not liable under [section] 1983 for any alleged conduct of deputy sheriffs in violating the arrestee's federal constitutional rights, absent a showing that any county policy or custom was the moving force behind the alleged violations; (5) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether a deputy sheriffs' use of force against the arrestee was reckless under Ohio law; (6) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether a deputy sheriff assaulted the arrestee in response to an off-color jibe; and (7) genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the county board of commissioners, sheriff, and deputies knew that litigation was probable and whether their destruction of videotape evidence of deputies' use of force against the arrestee was willful. (Greene County Jail, Ohio)

    U.S. District Court

    EXPERT WITNESS

    Clay v. Woodbury County, Iowa, 982 F.Supp.2d 904 (N.D.Iowa 2013). A female arrestee brought a [section] 1983 action against a city, an arresting officer, county, county sheriff, and jail officers, alleging, among other things, that jail officers "strip searched" her without reasonable suspicion and in unconstitutional manner, and did so in retaliation for her vociferous complaints about her detention and the search of her purse and cell phone. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the arrestee moved to exclude expert testimony. The district court held that the expert's reference to an incorrect standard for the excessive force claim did not warrant excluding his opinions in their entirety, although portions of the expert's report were inadmissible. According to the court, the officers did not violate the arrestee's privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment where the officers' reason for removing the arrestee's bra--institutional safety-was substantially justified, and the scope of the intrusion was relatively small. The court also found that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity from the female arrestee's [section] 1983 unlawful search claim, where the officers neither knew, nor reasonably should have known, that their actions would violate the arrestee's privacy rights. (Woodbury County Jail, Iowa)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    EVIDENCE

    LEGAL MATERIAL

    RETALIATION FOR LEGAL ACTION

    Devbrowv. Gallegos, 735 F.3d 584 (7* Cir. 2013). A prisoner brought a [section] 1983 claim against two prison officials, claiming that the officials denied him access to the courts by confiscating and then destroying his legal papers in retaliation for a prior lawsuit he filed. The district court granted the prison officials' motion for summary judgment, and denied the prisoner's motion for reconsideration. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that the prisoner failed to authenticate a purported e-mail from a prison official to a law librarian supervisor, where there was no circumstantial evidence that supported the authenticity of the e-mail, and no evidence that the prisoner or anyone else saw the official actually compose or transmit the purported e-mail. The court held that the official's removal of the prisoner's excessive legal materials from his cell, to eliminate a fire hazard and to make it easier for officials to conduct searches and inventories of the prisoner's property during prison searches, was not retaliation for the prisoner's filing of a prior lawsuit. According to the court, the prisoner's speculation regarding the officials' motive could not overcome the officials' sworn statements on the motion for summary judgment. (Westville Correctional Facility, Indiana)

    U.S. District Court

    CIVIL SUIT

    EVIDENCE

    Donahoe v. Arpaio, 986 F.Supp.2d 1091 (D. Ariz. 2013). A former member of a county board of supervisors brought an action against the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, a former county attorney, and deputy county attorneys, asserting claims under [section] 1983 and state law for wrongful institution of civil proceedings, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unlawful search. The parties cross-moved for summary judgment. The district court denied the plaintiff's motion, and granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motions. The court held that summary judgment for the defendants was precluded by fact issues: (1) with respect to the malicious prosecution claims; (2) as to whether misrepresentations and omissions of evidence in a search warrant affidavit were material; (3) as to unlawful search claims against the sheriff and deputy county attorneys; (4) with respect to the false arrest claim; and (5) with respect to the claim for wrongful institution of civil proceedings. The court noted that a reasonable magistrate would not have issued a search warrant based on the accurate and complete representation of known evidence. The court held that the retaliatory animus of the county sheriff and prosecutors would chill a person of ordinary firmness from criticizing the sheriff and prosecutors and from vigorously litigating against them. According to the court, fact issues as to whether the county sheriff and prosecutors acted outrageously and either intended the arrestee harm, or were recklessly indifferent to whether their actions would infringe on his rights and cause him severe distress, precluded summary judgment for the defendants with regard to the claim for punitive damages in the action for unlawful search, false arrest, malicious prosecution, and First Amendment violations. (Maricopa County Sheriff and County Attorneys, Arizona)

    U.S. Appeals Court

    PLRA- Prison Litigation Reform Act

    EXHAUSTION

    Fluker v. County of Kankakee, 741 F.3d 787 (7th Cir. 2013). An inmate and his wife filed a [section] 1983 action against a county and the county sheriffs office to recover for injuries the inmate suffered when a correctional officer who was driving a jail transport vehicle was required to brake suddenly, causing the inmate to hurtle forward and hit his head on a metal divider. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants. The plaintiffs appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that the district court had the ability, in the interests of judicial economy and finality, to address the merits of the suit once it determined that the inmate had not exhausted his remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). (Kankakee County, Jerome Combs Detention Center, Illinois)

    U.S. District Court

    INITIAL APPEARANCE

    DUE PROCESS

    Gordon v. Johnson, 991 F.Supp.2d 258 (D.Mass. 2013). An alien, a lawful permanent resident who was subjected to mandatory detention pending removal five years after his arrest for narcotics possession, petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus on his own behalf and on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals, seeking an individualized bond hearing to challenge his ongoing detention. The government moved to dismiss. The district court allowed the petition, finding that the phrase "when the alien is released" in the statute authorizing mandatory detention of criminal aliens meant "at the time of release," and that the petitioner was entitled to a bond hearing for consideration of the possibility of his release on conditions. (Franklin County Jail and House of Correction, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Sheriff of Bristol County, Sheriff of Plymouth County, Sheriff of Suffolk County, Massachusetts)

    U.S. District Court

    SEARCHES

    EQUAL PROTECTION

    Johnson v. Government of Dist. of Columbia, 734 F.3d 1194 (D.C. Cir. 2013). Female arrestees who were forced to endure strip searches while awaiting presentment at hearings at the District of Columbia Superior Court filed a class action against the District of Columbia and a former United States Marshal for the Superior Court, alleging that such searches violated the Fourth Amendment. They also alleged a violation of the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantee, where men were not similarly strip searched. The district court granted summary judgment to the District and the Marshal. The arrestees appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The appeals court found that the former marshal who administered the Superior Court cellblock was at all times a federal official acting under the color of federal law, and, thus, the District of Columbia could not be held liable under [section] 1983 for the marshal's conduct. The court noted that the statutory scheme gave the District of Columbia no power to exercise authority over, or to delegate authority to, the marshal, and lacked the discretion to stop sending pre-presentment arrestees to the marshal. According to the court, any Fourth Amendment right that the former United States Marshal may have violated by subjecting detainees arrested on minor charges to blanket strip searches was not...

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