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Articles by David Reutter

Second Circuit Reverses Dismissal of NY Prisoner’s Due Process Claim on Grounds It Was Abandoned on Appeal

by David M. Reutter

In a ruling issued on January 19, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a lower court erred in dismissing a prisoner’s due process claim on grounds he abandoned it on appeal. The district court also erred in proceeding as if ...

$175,000 Awarded to New York Prisoner’s 686 Days Unconstitutional Post Release Supervision

by David M. Reutter

On Dec. 4, 2020, a federal district court in New York awarded $175,000 to a former state prisoner who was imprisoned for 686 days as a result of an unconstitutionally imposed term of post-release supervision (PRS).
The prisoner, Shawn Michael Vincent, entered into a plea agreement ...

$53 Million Settlement in Los Angeles Jail Strip Search Lawsuit Approved

by David M. Reutter

A California federal district court approved a $53 million settlement in a class action lawsuit alleging women held by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) were subjected to “highly invasive body cavity searches” from March 5, 2008 to January 1, 2015. [See: PLN, Dec ...

Ninth Circuit: Pretrial Detainees Have Right to Direct-View Safety Checks

by David M. Reutter

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a grant of summary judgment to a jail nurse, holding that it was clearly established at the time of the events relevant to the lawsuit under review that an arrestee being booked into jail had a constitutional right to ...

Eleventh Circuit: Preliminary Injunctions Have 90-Day Limit Under PLRA; Permanent Injunction Required to Extend Relief

by David M. Reutter

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that “the entry of a permanent injunction is necessary to prevent a preliminary injunction from expiring by operation of law after 90 days under the PLRA’s (Prison Litigation Reform Act) ‘unless’ clause.” That holding resulted in the Court vacating ...

Michigan Prisoner’s Corizon Suit Dismissed Due to “Morass of Irrelevancies”

by David M. Reutter

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a prisoner’s civil rights complaint because it was filled with “pages of irrelevant and unspecific allegations.” The Court said that in drafting a complaint, a “plaintiff must not append so many limbs and outward flourishes to ...

Third Circuit: Gratuitous Use of Force on Prisoner Negates Qualified Immunity Defense

by David M. Reutter

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment in a lawsuit against a guard at New Jersey’s Cumberland County Jail (CCJ). The Court held the guard was not entitled to qualified immunity because it was clearly established at the time of the ...

$750,000 Settlement in South Carolina Pretrial Detainee’s Suicide by Southern Health Partners

by David M. Reutter

On June 17, 2021, Southern Health Partners paid $750,000 to resolve a lawsuit alleging it failed to take proper steps in caring for a pretrial detainee who entered South Carolina’s Marlboro County Jail with a prescription drug addiction.

Roy Locklear, 30, had a history of drug abuse and addiction, specifically pain medications and cocaine. A bench warrant was issued for Locklear on January 15, 2013, after he tested positive on five straight drug screens in the prior month. South Carolina Department of Law Enforcement Agent Brian Truex began working to take Locklear into custody on October 23, 2014. He made contact with Locklear’s father on about October 30 and learned of Locklear’s severe drug addiction.

Later that evening, Locklear contacted Agent Truex. After some discussion, Locklear agreed to turn himself in only to Agent Truex because “he didn’t trust the local officers as they had lied to him before and he was scared of them.” He was taken into custody on November 5, 2014. Truex told Locklear’s mother at that time that the situation was an “opportunity for [Locklear] to get his life straight.”

On the way to Marlboro County Jail, Locklear said he was tired ...

Preliminary Injunction Bars Arkansas from Confiscating Prisoners’ COVID Stimulus Money

by David M. Reutter

An Arkansas federal district court issued a preliminary injunction that bars the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) from carrying out a state law that confiscates prisoners’ stimulus money and distributes it to the state.

The Court’s September 3, 2021, order was issued in a lawsuit brought by ADC prisoner Anthony Lamar. As the COVID-19 virus hit the United States, Congress responded to the halting of the economy by passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) on March 27, 2020. For purposes of Lamar’s lawsuit, the most noticeable part of the CARES Act was a $1,200 payment to every American adult with an income below $75,000. Those payments were commonly known as stimulus checks.

Congress passed two more stimulus bills in the next year. The December 27, 2020, Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) included a $600 stimulus payment or tax credit. Then, on March 11, 2021, Congress approved a $1,400 stimulus payment or tax credit with the American Rescue Plan Act.

Prisoners fell under the definition of persons eligible to receive stimulus checks. The Internal Revenue Service originally declined to send stimulus payments to prisoners, but a California federal district court entered a permanent ...

Georgia Sheriff Suspended After Indictment on Federal Civil Rights Charges

by David M. Reutter

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was suspended by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp following the review of a federal civil rights indictment that charged Hill with ordering excessive use of force against detainees.

Kemp’s June 2, 2021 administrative order was issued after a commission he ordered in May released its report. The commission’s members were charged with determining whether the indictment “relates to and adversely affects the administration of the office of Clayton County Sheriff such that the rights and interests of the public are adversely affected.”

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, Hill ordered staff at the Clayton County Jail on four separate occasions in 2020 to strap pretrial detainees into a restraint chair “for a period exceeding that justified by any legitimate nonpunitive government purpose.”

A superseding indictment was filed in July for a fifth incident in which a man was allegedly placed in a restraint chair with a spit hood, punched in the face, and left for several hours.

The latest indictment describes Hill ordering the prisoner to be placed in the chair, and being present when the hood was placed on the prisoner’s ...