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Articles by Lonnie Burton

Illegal 24-Day ICE Detention Nets Lawful Permanent Resident $99,000 Settlement

by Lonnie Burton

In 2008 a lawsuit filed by a Mexican citizen who had obtained lawful permanent resident status in the United States and was later detained while trying to return to the U.S. from Mexico was settled for $99,000. The settlement came after a failed government motion ...

$10,000 Settlement for California Man Unlawfully Detained by ICE

by Lonnie Burton

On October 1, 2013, U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti, sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, signed a stipulated order dismissing a lawsuit filed by a man who was unlawfully detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE ...

Lawful Sudanese Immigrant Receives $60,000 Settlement for Five Days Unlawful ICE Detention

by Lonnie Burton

On November 2, 2004, U.S. District Judge Charles K. Wolff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, signed an order approving the settlement in, and dismissing, a case of an Iowa man who was unlawfully held on an immigration detainer for ...

Naturalized U.S. Citizen Receives $400,000 after Being Illegally Held by ICE for 71 Months

by Lonnie Burton

Rennison Vern Castillo served honorably in the United States Army. He received the National Defense Service Medal and an Army Service Ribbon. While serving the country, Castillo was sworn in as a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998. Castillo was honorably discharged from the Army in 2003 ...

Dismissal of Ill. Prisoner's Dental Care Lawsuit Affirmed By Seventh Circuit

by Lonnie Burton

On February 15, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided that a lower court's dismissal of Illinois state prisoner's lawsuit against a private medical contractor and a prison dentist should be upheld. The appellate court agreed that the prisoner's deliberate indifference claims for inadequate dental treatment failed as a matter of law.

The case concerns Wexford Health Sources Inc., a private medical provider contracted to provide medical and dental services to state prisoners in Illinois. Lamont Lake was a prisoner at the Hill Correctional Center, and sued Wexford and prison dentist Carol Jackson for pain and suffering as the result of substandard dental care. Defendants moved for, and were granted summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, and Lake appealed.

The Seventh Circuit first noted that Wexford has a reputation of "withholding medical care to save money," and that it's a "common criticism" of Wexford.

Turning to the facts of this case, the appellate court accepted Lake's contention that one of Lake's teeth had to be removed, and, because he didn't respond well to the local anesthetics used ...

Washington Court of Appeals Holds No Duty of Protection Owed By DOC to Felon Under Community Supervision

by Lonnie Burton

On February 14, 2017, Division Three of the Washington State Court of Appeals held in a 2-1 ruling that the Department of Corrections (DOC) was not liable for an assault suffered by a man while he was serving his term of community supervision following his release from custody. The decision affirmed a superior court order granting summary judgment to defendant DOC and dismissing the suit.

This case began in January 2011 when Ahmet Hopovac was released from the Grant County jail after completing his sentence for burglary and other crimes. As part of his sentence, Hopovac was to serve a term of community supervision, which included a stipulation that he remain within the confines of Grant County and not possess a firearm. Hopovac asked his community corrections officer (CCO) to transfer his supervision to Idaho where he could live and work with his father. Idaho denied the transfer because Hopovac failed to submit the proper paperwork.

In April 2011, Hopovac was involved as a witness in a burglary that involved a Pocos Locos gang member. The gang member told Hopovac and his friend, Mr. Jones, that he had just shot someone and showed him the gun he ...

$1.3 Million+ Award of Attorney's Fees and Costs Approved in New York Unlawful Confinement Case that Netted Only $1 in Damages

by Lonnie Burton

On June 17, 2016, Judge Jed A. Raskoff, sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, issued an order approving over $1.3 million in costs and attorney's fees in a long-running case that resulted in New York's original sexually violent predator civil commitment rules being declared unconstitutional. The fee award was significant because the jury in the underlying case, while finding in favor of the plaintiffs, awarded only $1 in actual damages.

In 2005, then-New York Governor George Pataki issued an executive order requiring civil confinement in a state psychiatric hospital of prisoners, who, after serving their sentences, were deemed to be sexually violent predators. The key part of that initiative was that, contrary to New York Correction Law which required a judicial finding prior to involuntary commitment, a person could be committed under the governor's plan on the word of two state-employed psychiatrists.

Six plaintiffs affected by the order brought suit against Gov. Pataki under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of their Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, among other things.

After many of the claims were dismissed on summary judgment and other ...

Arizona's No-Bail Constitutional Provision for Certain Sex Crimes Violates Federal Constitution, State Supreme Court Says

by Lonnie Burton

On February 9, 2017, the Arizona Supreme Court struck down a state constitutional provision which barred bail in certain sex offense cases where the alleged victim was under 15 years of age. The state high court found that section of the Arizona Constitution violated the United States Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment's due process guarantee.

Article 2, section 22(A), of the Arizona Constitution's Declaration of Rights provided in part that all persons charged with a crime shall be bailable "except for capital offenses, sexual assault, [and] sexual conduct with a minor under fifteen years of age or molestation of a child under fifteen years of age where the proof is evident or the presumption great." The addition of the bail restrictions in sexual abuse cases where the victim is under age 15 was enacted by the people of the state of Arizona by Proposition 103.

This provision was challenged in the case of Joe Paul Martinez, who the state had charged with multiple sex offenses, including two where the alleged victims were under the age of 15. After Martinez filed a petition to be released on bail, the trial court held an evidentiary hearing, where ...

Fifth Circuit Reinstates Part of Louisiana Prisoner's Failure-to-Protect, Medical Indifference Lawsuit

by Lonnie Burton

On February 9, 2017, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmedin part and reversed in part a district court's order granting summary judgment to prison officials in a case where a state prisoner claimed he was misclassified, assaulted, and then denied timely, adequate medical care. Only the prisoner's claims that a lieutenant denied him access to prescribed medications and refused to allow him to seek medical attention were reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

Larry Dupree Alderson was a pretrial detainee who, in December 2014, was housed in the Concordia Parish. Correctional Facility (CPCF) awaiting trial. According to his complaint, Alderson was housed in CPCF's G-Dorm, a unit that houses state DOC prisoners. On December 22, 2014, Alderson was attacked and beaten for three-to-five minutes by two DOC prisoners who did not like Alderson's charges. After the attack, instead of sending Alderson for medical care, CPCF lieutenant Harvey Bryant sent him to a lockdown cell with other DOC prisoners. It was not until Alderson and his family made numerous complaints did Bryant return to Alderson's cell, take pictures of his injuries with his personal phone, and then ...

California Court Refuses to Reduce Juvenile's 32 Years-to-Life Under Miller v. Alabama

by Lonnie Burton

On January 24, 2017, a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, largely upheld the sentence of a man who was sentenced in 2011, at age 14, to 35 years (to life) for attempted murder and robbery. The court held that the recent U.S. Supreme Court case of Miller v. Alabama (132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012)) did not apply because the man had a.realistic chance for release after serving 25 years.

On July 15, 2011, a California jury found 14-year-old Andrew Garcia guilty of attempted murder and robbery. The jury further found that Garcia personally and intentionally used a firearm during the commission of the crime and that he inflicted great bodily injury. On December 23, 2011, the trial court sentenced Garcia to 35 years to life in prison: seven years for the attempted murder, plus a 25 year to life enhancement for intentional discharge of a firearm, and another three years for a great bodily injury enhancement. All sentences were ordered to be served consecutively, but the court stayed any sentence for the robbery.

During sentencing, the court refused to listen to any personal information About Garcia, stating ...


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