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Litigating for Maximum Effect
By John Perotti
A lot of us know that our system of justice is a hypocritical one-Just-Us. The rich buy their justice; the poor are served theirs in prison cells every time they're served their cold oatmeal and powered eggs.
However, it is good tactics to utilize our oppressors' own tools of oppression against them. Surprisingly enough, a lot of significant changes and improvements have resulted from civil litigation. When I first started litigating I have to admit my main motive was revenge. Revenge for the real and imagined wrongs I'd suffered, but I'm beyond that now, but that's a different story. To litigate for maximum effect you should do so costing the state as much money to defend as possible, yet still bring about good case precedent. Bad precedents make it harder for the next prisoner. So always try to litigate issues that are winnable and which will bring about positive change. Guard on prisoner brutality issues are always worthwhile, because the mere fact that you show the courts how often brutality occurs in prison has a deterrent effect on guards and could prevent a prisoner from being beaten in the future.
Most state attorney general offices (who represent prisoncrats) only set aside 3-10 Assistant Attorney Generals to handle prisoner cases. These Ass. AG's are always overworked. One effective tactic is to file suit for as many prisoners as possible at one time. Have your interrogatories, Request for Documents and admissions already drafted. As soon as the court dockets the cases, have each prisoner file his discovery request at the same time and watch the fun begin. Do the same for Motions for Partial Summary Judgement, which the AAG's have to oppose by gathering affidavits and documents from prisoncrats.
Once we had all the AAG's coming down to Lucasville, OH at one time gathering evidence to oppose motions. With luck, other prisoners' motions will go unopposed due to the AAG's being tied up elsewhere. Hey, a win for one is a win for all.
You should also share information with other prisoners' litigators, create brief banks to assist each other. Networking is a must. After all, they do it.
Share depositions of prisoncrats, you'll be surprised at how many different lies you'll catch them in on a case by case basis, these are effective trial impeachment tools. Try to have at least one outside contact who will xerox, store and redistribute documents. Utilize newsletters such as this one to share and request information on litigation. You never know when a comrade in a different state might come up with the argument you're looking for. Remember, the struggle is a nationwide one, respect your fellow and sister prisoners. Always assist those who are unable to do so for themselves.
And always remember, watch your back. Whenever you oppose or challenge the state, they'll go to great lengths to break you. Have someone watch your cell for set ups, keep constant outside contacts, be prepared and Fight Back!! (Legally of course.)
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