Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Farmer Loses at Jury Trial

In the July, 1994, issue of PLN we reported Farmer v. Brennan, 114 S.Ct. 1970 (1994), where the supreme court held that prisoners have an eighth amendment right to be protected by prison officials from rape or attack by other prisoners.

Farmer proceeded to the supreme court following summary judgment in favor of prison official defendants, which had been affirmed by the seventh circuit. The supreme court vacated the lower court rulings and remanded the case back to the district court.

On remand, the district court granted a second summary judgment, which was then reversed by the seventh circuit on grounds that the district court had not given the plaintiff enough time for discovery, Farmer v. Brennan, 81 F.3d 1444 (7th Cir. 1996) [PLN Vol. 8 No.4]

Dee Farmer is a pre-operative transsexual. After being transferred to the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute, IN, she claimed she was raped by other prisoners as a result of prison officials being deliberately indifferent to her safety.

On remand from the seventh circuit, the case resulted in a district court jury trial. The trial, from jury selection through final decision, was over in two days. Jury deliberation took only about an hour. Farmer lost. The jury failed to believe Farmer's assertion that a sexual assault actually occurred.

So ends a long and bizarre legal battle which began in 1989, followed by: two supposedly dispositive rulings by the district court, two decisions by the court of appeals, one supreme court ruling, and finally a jury's finding that the sexual assaults that were the basis of the original complaint never happened.

Correctional Law Reporter

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Farmer v. Brennan