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S.Ct. to Hear Quayle Retaliation Claim

On January 20, 1995, the US Supreme Court announced that it had granted certiori to hear a prison retaliation case and it may have an interesting effect on the 1996 presidential campaign if Dan Quayle, George Bush's former vice president, changes his mind and decides to run for the presidency.

Brett Kimberlin is a federal prisoner serving time on drug and weapons charges. Prior to the 1988 presidential election he was scheduled to give a press conference, in prison, alleging that he had sold drugs to Dan Quayle while both attended college. On three occasions, just prior to press conferences being held, Kimberlin was placed in segregation and prevented from talking to the media. He filed suit claiming that his segregation was an effort by the Bureau of Prisons to silence him. The district court agreed, see Kimberlin v. Quinlan, 774 F. Supp 1 (DC DC, 1991), denied the government's motion for summary judgment and scheduled the case for trial.

The government appealed and the court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed, dismissing the case at 6 F.3d 789 (See PLN, Vol. 5, No. 3). The appeals court claimed that Kimberlin had presented only "weak" circumstantial evidence of retaliation and he was not entitled to conduct discovery in the matter. Both the majority and dissenting rulings emphasized their discontent with the legal standards applied solely in the District of Columbia circuit in suits against government officials. Kimberlin appealed and the Supreme, Court has granted certiori.

The issues to be decided by the court are "(1) Must plaintiffs in Bivens cases in which unlawful motive is element of alleged offense satisfy `heightened pleading standard' to survive motion to dismiss or for summary judgement based on assertion of qualified immunity? (2) Must plaintiffs in Bivens cases produce, prior to discovery, 'direct,' as opposed to persuasive circumstantial evidence of unlawful motive?"

PLN will report the ruling once it is issued. See Kimberlin v. Quinlan, docket number 93-2068.

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Related legal case

Kimberlin v. Quinlan