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Articles by David M. Reutter

Fifth Circuit Kills Suit by Louisiana Prisoners Whose Release Dates Were Incorrectly Calculated

by David M. Reutter

On February 14, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court’s denial of qualified immunity (QI) to James LeBlanc, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC), in a lawsuit alleging he was liable for detaining prisoners beyond their sentence expiration – by incorrectly calculating their release dates, not by failing to notify the people charged with making release happen, which is the subject of another suit. [See: PLN, Aug. 2023, p.??.]

Percy Taylor was sentenced in 1995 to 10 years and subsequently released on parole. He committed a new offense in July 2001, but he wasn’t arrested until February 20, 2002. Taylor was then convicted on October 15, 2003, and sentenced to life imprisonment as a habitual offender. His parole was also revoked. The life sentence was eventually reduced to 20 years with “credit for all time served.”

Taylor learned in 2017 that his full-term release date was March 16, 2021, and his good-time adjusted date was May 5, 2020. Taylor believed his release date should have been the end of October 2017, but no later than January 1, 2018, with proper good-time credit application. ...

Federal Court Upholds and Monitors Requirement for Tennessee Jail to Provide COVID-19 Vaccination for Detainees

by David M. Reutter

On February 22, 2022, an inspector appointed by the federal court for the Western District of Tennessee reported that the Shelby County Jail remained understaffed even as a surge in bookings drove up the number of prisoners and detainees held there, frustrating efforts to fully vaccinate ...

Federal Courts Order Seizure of Canteen Funds for Restitution Owed by High-Profile Prisoners

by David M. Reutter

In two recent cases, federal courts have granted orders to seize funds from prisoners after sizable balances in their canteen accounts came to prosecutors’ attention.

In federal court for the Western District of Michigan on August 19, 2021, Judge Janet T. Neff granted prosecutors’ motion to ...

California Court Rules Bail Bond Companies Must Give Cosigners Financial Impact Notice

by David M. Reutter

On December 29, 2021, the Court of Appeal for the First District of California decided that a “bail bond premium financing agreement” is a consumer credit contract and, under California Civil Code § 1799.91, is unenforceable against any cosigner to whom the statutory notice is not ...

Supreme Court of Kansas: Lower Court Did Not Have Authority to Revoke Probation Without a Warrant

by David M. Reutter

On January 28, 2022, the Supreme Court of Kansas held that a state court has no authority to revoke and remand a state probationer to prison except by an action that is timely initiated with a warrant or notice to appear. Since the proceedings against probationer ...

Wisconsin Prisoner In Vegetative State After Suicide Attempt Wins New Trial on Jury Instruction Error

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a jury’s judgment in a civil rights action alleging guards at Wisconsin’s Madison County Jail (MCJ) were deliberately indifferent to a detainee's medical care. The court found the jury was improperly instructed to determine if the defendants’ actions were ...

Illinois Prisoner’s Negligence Lawsuit Alleging Injuries from Wart Treatment Timely Filed

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of state law negligence claims based upon a prisoner being forced to self-apply a medication that was not supposed to be dispensed to patients. The court, however, affirmed the dismissal of a deliberate indifference claim.

The court’s ...

Kentucky Consolidated Local Government Entitled to Sovereign Immunity

The Supreme Court of Kentucky held that the Louisville Metro Government (LMG) and its employees are entitled to sovereign and qualified in a lawsuit alleging violation of Ky. Rev. Stat. 71.040.

The court’s December 17, 2020, opinion was issued in an appeal brought by the Estate of James Hatcher.

Hatcher ...

Eleventh Circuit Says COVID-19-Wracked Miami Jail Can’t Be Forced to Give Prisoners Soap, Masks

On May 5, 2020, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a Florida district court’s preliminary injunction that required officials at Miami’s Metro West Detention Center (Metro West) to employ numerous safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and imposed extensive reporting requirements.

Metro West ...

More States Restore Felony Voting Rights

In 2019, Colorado, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Nevada enacted legislation to restore voting rights to felons who have been released from prison but are still under such supervision, the latest of 24 states to make similar moves since 1997. Still, a 2016 estimate by the nonprofit ...