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Prison Legal News: December, 2005

Issue PDF
Volume 16, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Privatized Medical Services in Delaware Kill and Maim (p 1)
  2. Washington State Supreme Court Grants PLN Public Disclosure of Washington DOC Medical Malpractice Re (p 10)
  3. PLN Sues Bureau of Prisons for Lawsuit Information (p 11)
  4. From the Editor (p 12)
  5. Mexican Prisons in Crisis: Cartels Murder Prisoners and Guards (p 13)
  6. Excessive Force Claim Nets $3,200 in Attorney's Fees; $1,000 in Damages (p 15)
  7. Guards Flee Texas Prisons After Overtime Eliminated (p 16)
  8. Los Angeles County Settles Two Jail Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Suits For $325,000 (p 16)
  9. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Accepts (p 17)
  10. New York Prisoner Assaulted By Guard Awarded $4,200 (p 18)
  11. 28 Die in Philippines Jail Uprising (p 18)
  12. 28 Die in Philippines Jail Uprising (p 18)
  13. Disclosure of Washington State Prisoner Phone RatesDisclosure of Washington State Prisoner Phone Rates Stymied by the Courts (p 19)
  14. Colorado DOC's Medical Oversight Found Remiss (p 20)
  15. $820,000 Damages Upheld Against NY Jailer Who (p 21)
  16. Virginia Governor Warner Restores Felons' Voting Rights, Ignites Controversy (p 22)
  17. Remedial Plan And $427,158 Attorney Fees In Wyoming Failure to Protect Suit (p 23)
  18. Louisiana's 2002 Exhaustion Requirement (Act 89) Not Retroactive (p 24)
  19. $200,000 Failure-To-Medicate Award Granted to California (p 24)
  20. PLN Sues The Geo Group for Public Records (p 25)
  21. Michigan Jail Settles Unreasonable Use of Force Case for $130,000 (p 26)
  22. Ban on Separatist Religious Publication (p 26)
  23. California Youth Prison Superintendent (p 27)
  24. Florida Awards Contracts Putting Sex Offenders on GPS Supervision; Other States to Follow (p 28)
  25. Controversial Ex-Prison Official Lane McCotter Appointed Utah J.P. (p 29)
  26. Politics Keeps Arizona Clemency Approvals Rare (p 30)
  27. Wrongfully Convicted Kentucky Man Wins $590,000 Judgment Against Defense Attorney (p 31)
  28. 85 Year-Old California Prison Doctor Wins $20 Million For Age Discrimination (p 32)
  29. Fourth Circuit Holds Claims Value Relevant to Frivolous Determination (p 32)
  30. 2006 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar (p 33)
  31. Florida Violates Sex Offenders for Possessing Common Men's Magazines (p 33)
  32. Louisiana Prisoners Obscenity Conviction for Masturbation Vacated (p 34)
  33. "Actual Innocence" Rule Inapplicable to Breach of Contract by Lawyer (p 34)
  34. California Tort Claim Dismissed For Failure to Fully (p 35)
  35. Georgia Prison Warden Proper Defendant In § 1983, ADA Suit (p 36)
  36. No Qualified Immunity from 57-Day Illegal Confinement (p 37)
  37. PLRA Exhaustion Requirement Has (p 38)
  38. Court May Infer Deliberate Indifference from Obviousness of Risk (p 38)
  39. Washington S.Ct. Upholds Persistent Prison Misbehavior Statute (p 39)
  40. Seventh Circuit Upholds $56.5 Million Jail Murder Verdict (p 40)
  41. Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Retaliation Claim (p 40)
  42. Dismissal of §1983 Complaint Against Ohio CCA Prison Reversed (p 41)
  43. News in Brief (p 42)
  44. Former California Warden Allegedly (p 44)

Privatized Medical Services in Delaware Kill and Maim

by David M. Reutter

Anthony Pierce was serving a 14 month sentence for parole violation of a burglary charge at Delaware's Sussex Correctional Institution when he discovered a marble-sized lump growing on the back of his head. A prison doctor employed by the Delaware Department of Corrections' (DDOC) medical ...

Washington State Supreme Court Grants PLN Public Disclosure of Washington DOC Medical Malpractice Re

Washington State Supreme Court Grants PLN Public Disclosure of Washington DOC Medical Malpractice Records

by John E. Dannenberg

Prison Legal News won a big victory for the cause of investigative journalism on July 14, 2005 when it prevailed in the Washington State Supreme Court to gain access to public records ...

PLN Sues Bureau of Prisons for Lawsuit Information

On September 12, 2005, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed suit in federal district court to overturn an agency ruling denying it access to documents held by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Washington, DC, appeals a ruling by the BOP denying PLN ...

From the Editor

By now all PLN subscribers should have received our annual fund raiser letter and our reader survey. As you know, subscription and advertising income only cover a fraction of PLN's operating expenses. We operate a very lean operation where all four full time employees and our part time workers ...

Mexican Prisons in Crisis: Cartels Murder Prisoners and Guards

by Matthew T. Clarke

One of the achievements of which Mexican President Vicente Fox is most proud is the record-breaking number of drug lords who have been arrested and thrown into federal prison during his tenure. He has a right to be proud of that achievement. However, such success does ...

Excessive Force Claim Nets $3,200 in Attorney's Fees; $1,000 in Damages

An Illinois Federal District Court has awarded $3,200 in attorney's fees in a prisoner's claim that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated.
The civil rights action was brought by Illinois prisoner Frank Farella against Logan Correctional Center guards Dennis Hockaday and Ricky Skelton. Farella's suit alleged ...

Guards Flee Texas Prisons After Overtime Eliminated

The virtual elimination of overtime pay for guards--a cost-cutting move by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)--has contributed to rising turnover rates and probably comprised safety in the state's chronically understaffed prisons.

In March 2003, TDCJ began awarding comp" time for the first 240 hours of overtime ...

Los Angeles County Settles Two Jail Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Suits For $325,000

Los Angeles County settled two prisoner wrongful death suits for $325,000 that alleged negligent medical care during incarceration at the L.A. County jail.

On May 8, 2002, 39 year-old county jail prisoner Crystal Baize was transferred from the Twin Towers Jail to U.S.C. Medical Center, complaining ...

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Accepts

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Accepts Gifts Worth Thousands


by Michael Rigby

Justice Clarence Thomas is the Supreme Court's poorest member -- he's also its most prolific gift taker. From 1998 through 2003, Thomas accepted $42,200 worth of cash, antiques, clothes and other free merchandise. The largess includes ...

New York Prisoner Assaulted By Guard Awarded $4,200

On September 8, 2004, a court of claims in Buffalo, New York, awarded $4,200 to a state prisoner who was assaulted by a guard at the Attica Correctional Facility.

Juan Matias, a 36-year-old prisoner, claimed that he was assaulted by a prison guard in April 2002. (The guard was ...

28 Die in Philippines Jail Uprising

A March 14, 2005, botched escape attempt by an Al-Qaida linked Abu-Sayyaf member at the Camp Begang Diwa (CBD) detention center in Tanguig, Manila started as a two-day takeover of CBD that ended with 28 dead.

When the incident began, CBD held 470 detainees, including 129 suspected members and leaders ...

28 Die in Philippines Jail Uprising

A March 14, 2005, botched escape attempt by an Al-Qaida linked Abu-Sayyaf member at the Camp Begang Diwa (CBD) detention center in Tanguig, Manila started as a two-day takeover of CBD that ended with 28 dead.

When the incident began, CBD held 470 detainees, including 129 suspected members and leaders ...

Disclosure of Washington State Prisoner Phone RatesDisclosure of Washington State Prisoner Phone Rates Stymied by the Courts

Disclosure of Washington State Prisoner Phone Rates Stymied by the Courts

by John E. Dannenberg

When recipients of Washington state prisoner-originated long distance phone calls sought to compel disclosure of the telephone rates for those calls, the Washington superior, appellate and supreme courts held (as of July2004) that relevant Washington ...

Colorado DOC's Medical Oversight Found Remiss

An independent auditor found the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) to be lax in its oversight of medical care contractors.

In April 2005, Navigant Consulting, Inc., reported the results of its audit, commissioned by the Colorado State Auditor, of the CDOC external health care services provided to prisoners. The audit ...

$820,000 Damages Upheld Against NY Jailer Who

$820,000 Damages Upheld Against NY Jailer Who Housed Informant with Defendant

by John E. Dannenberg

The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld $820,000 in damages for injuries suffered by an informant who was severely beaten by the defendant he had testified against, when the Nassau County ...

Virginia Governor Warner Restores Felons' Voting Rights, Ignites Controversy

by Matthew T. Clarke

Then Virginia Governor Mark Warner restored the voting rights of 1,892 felons who had served their sentences, 1,110 of them in 2004. Opposition politicians have accused him of "rubber-stamping" the restoration process.
Virginia is one of only seven states that permanently disenfranchise felons. The ...

Remedial Plan And $427,158 Attorney Fees In Wyoming Failure to Protect Suit

by John E. Dannenberg

The Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC) settled an Eighth Amendment-based class action complaint brought by prisoner Brad Skinner for WDOC's failure to protect prisoners from assault by other prisoners. The court (U.S. District Court, D. Wyo.) also awarded Skinner's attorneys $427,158 in ...

Louisiana's 2002 Exhaustion Requirement (Act 89) Not Retroactive

The Louisiana Supreme Court held that retroactive application of a 2002 law, requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies by prisoners before bringing a state tort action, would unconstitutionally deprive prisoners of a vested right. Therefore, the court held that the law has prospective application only when the prisoner was not required ...

$200,000 Failure-To-Medicate Award Granted to California

Jail Detainee Who Lost Testicle

by John E. Dannenberg


On July 18, 2005, a Solano County, California jail pre-trial detainee, whose infected testicle was not promptly treated, won a $200,000 damage award in Solano County Superior Court after suffering necrosis and subsequent amputation of the testicle.

Wayne Crowder, 46 ...

PLN Sues The Geo Group for Public Records

On Dec. 2, 2005, Prison Legal News filed a civil suit against The Geo Group, Inc. (formerly Wackenhut Corrections) in the Circuit Court for Palm Beach, Florida, demanding access to public records held by the company.
The Geo Group is a for-profit company that operates privatized prisons, including two Florida ...

Michigan Jail Settles Unreasonable Use of Force Case for $130,000

On March 1, 2005, the Wayne County jail in Detroit, Michigan settled an excessive use of force case for $130,00. Plaintiff, Victor Walker, alleged that on October 12, 2000, while being held in the Wayne County Jail in Detroit, Michigan, he was punched in his left eye by a ...

Ban on Separatist Religious Publication

Ban on Separatist Religious Publication Reversed by Eighth Circuit


The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's grant of summary judgment to prison officials related to the refusal to deliver a religious publication they deemed to be racially inflammatory
Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisoner Michael Murphy ...

California Youth Prison Superintendent

California Youth Prison Superintendent Removed For Using Unreasonable Force


The Superintendent of a California youth prison was permanently removed from his position for using unreasonable force against a ward, and then not reporting it.

Steve Kruse, Superintendent at the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton, was placed on ...

Florida Awards Contracts Putting Sex Offenders on GPS Supervision; Other States to Follow

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has awarded three contracts for Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite monitoring of sex offenders. The contracts come on the heels on legislation that allocated $3.9 million over a three-year period to put certain sex offenders on lifetime GPS supervision, even if their sentences ...

Controversial Ex-Prison Official Lane McCotter Appointed Utah J.P.

Lane McCotter, once the director of the Utah Department of Corrections, has been appointed to a justice of the peace bench in Utah. The McCotter era remains a high-point of prison violence in Utah's history cumulating in the death of a prisoner who had spent 16 hours strapped naked ...

Politics Keeps Arizona Clemency Approvals Rare

by John E. Dannenberg

Only seven Arizona prisoners were granted clemency in 2004, four of whom were on their death beds. This gaunt statistic is the natural progression resulting from Arizona's abolishing parole a decade ago, replacing justice with politics in the form of the Board of Executive Clemency ...

Wrongfully Convicted Kentucky Man Wins $590,000 Judgment Against Defense Attorney

On June 3, 2004, a Louisville, Kentucky, jury awarded $590,000 to a wrongfully convicted man who spent two years in prison because his defense counsel was negligent.

Plaintiff Gary Puckett and his mother Peggy Puckett were at their home on October 23, 1993, when a fire broke out. Gary ...

85 Year-Old California Prison Doctor Wins $20 Million For Age Discrimination

The chief physician and surgeon at California State Prison, Lancaster, still practicing medicine at age 85, successfully sued the California Department of Corrections (CDC) for age discrimination when CDC forced him to retire. On July 18, 2005, a Los Angeles superior court jury awarded the doctor $20 million, including $1 ...

Fourth Circuit Holds Claims Value Relevant to Frivolous Determination

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a district court may consider the value of the prisoner's claim when determining whether to dismiss it as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), the in forma pauperis statute.


Federal prisoner Paul Nagy was confined at ...

2006 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar

The 2006 Certain Days calendar features 12 full color imagesincluding collages, murals, paintings and moreand over a dozen pages of writing created by and about former and current American political prisoners and prisoners of war. This wall calendar is the fifth of its kind, produced by a collective of organizers ...

Florida Violates Sex Offenders for Possessing Common Men's Magazines

Florida Violates Sex Offenders for Possessing Common Men's Magazines

The State of Florida, in a crackdown on sex offenders, is sending probationers to jail for probation violations because they possessed racy magazines or sex manuals. The crackdown comes from increased surveillance of sexual offenders after the March murder of ...

Louisiana Prisoners Obscenity Conviction for Masturbation Vacated

The Louisiana Court of Appeals vacated a prisoner's obscenity conviction and sentence for masturbating in a public shower, within view of a female guard.

Louisiana prisoner, Bobby Holmes, was charged with two counts of obscenity in violation of La.R.S. 14:106. The first alleged act of obscenity ...

"Actual Innocence" Rule Inapplicable to Breach of Contract by Lawyer

"Actual Innocence" Rule Inapplicable to Breach of Contract by Lawyer

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's dismissal of a diversity suit, holding that the actual innocence" rule does not bar claims of breach of contract/fiduciary duty.

Hillary Winniczek was charged with federal crimes stemming ...

California Tort Claim Dismissed For Failure to Fully

California Tort Claim Dismissed For Failure to Fully Exhaust Administrative Remedies

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Court of Appeal held that a prisoner's tort claim must be dismissed without prejudice for failure to fully exhaust administrative remedies even though the response to his administrative appeal was allegedly overdue ...

Georgia Prison Warden Proper Defendant In § 1983, ADA Suit

by Michael Rigby

The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a Georgia prison warden was suable under the Eighth Amendment and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Plaintiff Tracy Miller is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic at the Georgia State Prison (GSP). Miller suffers from a ...

No Qualified Immunity from 57-Day Illegal Confinement

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that several prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity for their roles in confining a prisoner 57 days beyond his ordered release.

In December, 1977, Daryl Davis was convicted of theft under Missouri law. He was then sentenced as a prior offender ...

PLRA Exhaustion Requirement Has

PLRA Exhaustion Requirement Has Procedural Default Component


The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that the administrative exhaustion requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) includes a procedural default component. The court also held that the determination whether a prisoner has properly' exhausted a claim (for procedural default purposes ...

Court May Infer Deliberate Indifference from Obviousness of Risk

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a district court's grant of summary judgment to prison officials in a prisoner's claim that officials were deliberately indifferent to his safety when they had him strip insulation from a live 480-volt wire without protective gloves.
Indiana prisoner Christopher Hall worked ...

Washington S.Ct. Upholds Persistent Prison Misbehavior Statute

In a 54 decision, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a law that makes it a felony for a Washington prisoner to commit a serious prison infraction after losing all potential earned early release credits. The majority concluded that the statute was not void as an unconstitutional delegation of legislative ...

Seventh Circuit Upholds $56.5 Million Jail Murder Verdict

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a $56.5 million jury verdict against former jail guards who murdered a pretrial detainee. This is the largest verdict for abuses against a single victim in an American jail/prison case that we are aware of.

On October 25, 1997, Christopher Moreland ...

Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Retaliation Claim

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's dismissal of an Illinois prisoner's retaliation claim.

On January 17, 2003, Illinois prisoner Robert Hoskins worked in the Dixon Correctional Center (Dixon) cafeteria when Food Services Supervisor Connie Lenear called him a racial epithet because he could not ...

Dismissal of §1983 Complaint Against Ohio CCA Prison Reversed

by Bob Williams

The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has reversed the dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 prisoner complaint against the CCA facility at Youngstown, Ohio, finding the complaint did state a claim of municipal liability against the District of Columbia who contracted ...

News in Brief

News in Brief:

Arkansas: In 2001 prison guards used force 12 times to remove prisoners from their cells. By 2005 they did it at least 40 times. Prison officials attribute this to more hardened prisoners and not more brutal guards.

Arkansas: On December 1, 2005, an unidentified prison guard at ...

Former California Warden Allegedly

Former California Warden Allegedly Assaults News Reporter

The former warden of Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), Anthony Lamarque, allegedly swung a cane at Sacramento News and Review reporter Stephen James and then pinned him against a wall, when Lamarque apparently objected to being photographed at a civil lawsuit deposition being ...