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Michigan State Treasurer Seizes 90 Percent Of Prisoner's Suit Proceeds

Michigan State prisoner Raymond Jackson sought leave to appeal an appellate ruling allowing the state treasurer to seize 90 percent of his federal action proceeds under the State Correctional Facility Reimbursement Act (SCFRA). His attorneys appealed the reduction of requested fees. Appeal was denied.

90 percent of Jackson's settlement for being beaten by a federal prison guard were take under the SCFRA. Jackson filed a counter claim alleging equal protection violation and that federal law preempted the fund's acquisition. The circuit court allowed Jackson to keep $1,500 and awarded the rest to the state, awarding Jackson's attorneys $500 of the $22,000 billed. All parties appealed. In an unpublished ruling, the Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of the circuit court holding that no equal protection violation or federal preemption existed and called the billed attorney's fees "both cynical and abusive." Jackson sought appeal.

The Supreme Court of Michigan refused to address the cause but noted that federal law should preempt SCFRA application to federal tort and Bivens action awards for "interference with the two fundamental goals of the Federal Tort Claims Act and a Bivens action;" compensating victims of government wrongdoing and deterring unlawful conduct by federal, government agents. The court further noted that the attorneys accepted the case pro bono only requested the fees after the state seized Jackson's funds. The dissent would have granted leave to appeal. See: State Treasurer v. Jackson, 448 Mich. 916, 532 N.W.2d 538 (Mich. 1995)

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Related legal case

State Treasurer v. Jackson