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TVs for Justice

According to a Tulsa newspaper, Oklahoma prisoner Bruce Hawkins filed a suit in which he claimed he was assaulted and abused by prison guards and then denied medical treatment. Federal district court judge Ralph Thompson held there was no merit to the case and ordered Hawkins to pay $5,567 in court costs and attorney fees for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

Hawkins had no money so Attorney General Drew Edmondson moved to confiscate the only thing of value that Hawkins had: a $50 television set. Hawkins tried to hide the set, then tried to mail it to relatives. But Cleveland County deputies showed up at the prison in time to take the TV into custody.

Edmondson said the state spent $22,000 in winning the case. He said that even if the only thing they have to show for it is a used $50 TV set, it's money well spent because it "serves notice" on prisoners that there is a penalty for filing frivolous lawsuits.

Perhaps Oklahoma prisoners should think twice about filing a lawsuit the next time they are assaulted and abused by prison guards. Rather than go through the arduous struggle of litigation, they should contact the A.G. and offer to sell their TV for $20,000 in exchange for not filing the suit. If you have a color TV, they might go as high as thirty grand.

We've all got to do our part to prevent the courts from being clogged with nuisance suits every time a prisoner is beaten by his or her captors. Once the flow of prisoner lawsuits is stemmed, the A.G.'s office will have plenty of time to watch TV. They'll have some pretty darn expensive televisions to watch it on, but then justice doesn't always come cheap.

Source: Tulsa World 2/l/96

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