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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Fifth Circuit Finds “Opaque” Mississippi Prison Grievance System “Incapable of Use”

by Matt Clarke

On August 16, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that grievance procedure rules which the Mississippi Department of Corrections (DOC) published online – but which were not given to prisoners – cannot trigger a failure to exhaust administrative remedies that would justify ...

Fifth Circuit Revives Suit by Nation of Gods and Earth Prisoner Demanding Religious Recognition by Texas Prison Officials

by Matt Clarke

On July 11, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reinstated a Texas prisoner’s suit against officials with the state Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) who had banned him and other members of the Nation of Gods and Earths (NOGE) from holding religious gatherings. ...

Report Shows How Perverse Financial Incentives Drive Mass Incarceration and Inequity in Criminal Justice System

by Matt Clarke

A 72-page report by the Brennan Center for Justice published on July 6, 2022, shows how civil asset forfeiture, fines, fees and privatized community supervision shift the costs of the criminal justice system to the accused, removing financial disincentives for prosecutors to seek alternatives to incarceration. Simultaneously, ...

Fifth Circuit Greenlights Suit by Louisiana Prisoners Held in Local Jails Beyond Release Date

by Matt Clarke

On June 10, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that Louisiana prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity (QI) for delays in calculating release dates that left some state prisoners incarcerated for months beyond their sentences.

After Jessie Crittindon, Leon Burse, ...

Eighth Circuit Holds Delaying Surgery for Reducible Hernia Not Deliberate Indifference to Missouri Prisoner’s Serious Medical Needs

by Matt Clarke

What happens if you develop a hernia while jailed? One Missouri prisoner found the answer when he was forced to wait 16 months for surgical relief. Then, on June 30, 2022, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit said that’s okay – primarily because he ...

Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Derivative Sovereign Immunity for Jail Physician

by Matt Clarke

In an important decision for prisoners and jail detainees in Virginia, the state Supreme Court held on July 7, 2022, that a jail physician was entitled to a derivation of the state’s sovereign immunity. As a result, the Court affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the ...

Fifth Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Mississippi Sheriffs in Suit Over Mentally Ill Man’s Years-long Unlawful Detention

by Matt Clarke

On August 24, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court’s denial of qualified immunity (QI) to the current and former sheriffs of Clay County, Mississippi, in a suit seeking to hold them liable for detaining a mentally ill man in ...

Federal Judge Refuses to Shorten Corruption Sentence for Former Head of New York City Jail Guards’ Union

by Matt Clarke

On August 10, 2022, the federal court for the Southern District of New York denied a habeas corpus petition filed by the former head of the union representing guards at the New York City Department of Correction. However, the Court suggested procedures by which Norman Seabrook, the ...

Fifth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity to Mississippi Cops Who Let Injured Hemophiliac Bleed Out in Jail

by Matt Clarke

On July 15, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the denial of qualified immunity (QI) to Mississippi jailers accused of ignoring the injuries and pleas for medical treatment of an injured hemophiliac detainee, who then bled to death internally.

When police in ...

Music Stops in Fifth Circuit’s Qualified Immunity ‘Dance,’ Leaving Plaintiffs With Shortened Discovery Period

by Matt Clarke

On June 17, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a long line of prior decisions to hold that a ruling on defendants’ qualified immunity (QI) must be made at the first possible opportunity — and before discovery.

The Court’s new direction came ...