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Prison Legal News: March, 2005

Issue PDF
Volume 16, Number 3

In this issue:

  1. California Corrections System Officially Declared Dysfunctional" - Redemption Doubtful (p 1)
  2. Pay To Play: Guard Union Spreads the Wealth (p 5)
  3. New York Jail Settles Strip-Search Suit For $2.7 Million (p 8)
  4. Five Florida Cases Remanded for Award of Jail or Prison Credits (p 9)
  5. South Carolina Prison Officials Cheat Charity, Attempt Coverup (p 10)
  6. Washington Guards Settle Lawsuits For $7,270,000 And $810,000, Lose Third (p 12)
  7. Ohio Lawyer Suspended for Promising Favor from Judge for Money (p 13)
  8. Harsher Oregon Parole Statute Cannot Be Applied Retroactively (p 14)
  9. From the Editor (p 14)
  10. Problems Plague Illinois Jails And Prisons, Employees Watch Television for Pay (p 15)
  11. Connecticut Woman Gang-Raped In Sheriff's Van Settles Suit For $480,000 (p 16)
  12. Prison Population Still Rising in Mid-Year 2003 (p 17)
  13. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedy Requirement May be Excused (p 18)
  14. Wrongfully-Convicted Missouri Woman Receives $7.5 Million After 16 Years in Prison (p 18)
  15. Judges Of Death (p 19)
  16. U.S. v. Booker: The Left Wing Gives and the Right Wing Takes Away (p 20)
  17. Delaware Prisoner's $100,000 Damage Award For Retaliation Upheld (p 21)
  18. Fulton County Jail under Federal Control (p 22)
  19. 9th Circuit Explains Habeas Jurisdiction Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Upholds Washington Transfer to Priv (p 24)
  20. NO FTCA or IIED Claims Stated in Oregon Testicular Radiation Case (p 25)
  21. Uprising by Vermont Prisoners Damages CCA Prison in Kentucky (p 26)
  22. Destruction of Exculpatory Disciplinary Evidence May Violate Due Process Clause (p 28)
  23. New York Jail's Strip Search Policy Permanently Enjoined (p 29)
  24. Oregon Ban On Sexually Explicit Mail, Fantasy Games Upheld, State Law Claims Remanded (p 30)
  25. Washington Community Custody Sanctions Upheld (p 30)
  26. Delaware Prisoner Killed In Hostage Standoff, Counselor Raped (p 31)
  27. Summary Judgment Reversed In Los Angeles Jail Over-Detention Suit (p 32)
  28. Harsh Pre-trial Conditions of Confinement Justify Reduced Federal Sentence (p 32)
  29. Fourth Circuit Reinstates Federal Prisoner's FTCA Claim (p 32)
  30. Pennsylvania Statute Banning Sex Between Staff and Prisoners Upheld (p 34)
  31. $78,435 in Attorney Fees for Successful Challenge to Pennsylvania's Megan's Law (p 35)
  32. PHS and Florida Sheriff Fight Over Liability in Jail Beating Death Suit (p 36)
  33. Mailbox Rule Applies to Texas Prisoners Civil Filings (p 36)
  34. Civil Punitive Damages On Top Of Criminal Punishment Is Not Double Punishment (p 37)
  35. Arizona Appellate Court Vacates Restitution Order In Escape Case (p 38)
  36. Idaho Prisoner States Valid Retaliation Claim Against Parole Commission (p 38)
  37. Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising (p 39)
  38. Missouri Post-Conviction Proceedings Not Encompassed By PLRA Payment Scheme (p 40)
  39. Massachusetts Court Imposes Time Limits For Unrepresented Criminal Defendants (p 41)
  40. News in Brief: (p 42)
  41. Washington Absconding Does Not Toll LFO Collection Statue (p 44)

California Corrections System Officially Declared Dysfunctional" - Redemption Doubtful

California Corrections System Officially Declared
Dysfunctional" - Redemption Doubtful

by Marvin Mentor

Culminating a multi-year crescendo of criticism leveled at California's Corrections system from frustrated legislative, judicial and executive leaders, the Corrections Independent Review Panel (CIRP) recently tasked by Governor Schwarzenegger declared in its 359 page June 30, 2004 report ...

Pay To Play: Guard Union Spreads the Wealth

From January 3, 2000 to February 9, 2004, 26 of the 40 California state Senators and 50 of the 80 Assembly Members received funds - ranging from $1,000 to $333,000 - from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), the guards union, and/or Native Americans and Peace Officers Political ...

New York Jail Settles Strip-Search Suit For $2.7 Million

On March 10, 2004, the parties involved in a class action lawsuit over unlawful strip-searches performed during intake at the Rensselaer County (New York) Jail agreed to settle the case for $2.7 million.

On various occasions between June 26, 1999 and July 1, 2002, the 11 named plaintiffs in ...

Five Florida Cases Remanded for Award of Jail or Prison Credits

Florida's Second and Fifth District Courts of Appeals have remanded five separate cases for the award of jail or prison credit. Each case was filed under Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a) alleging illegal sentences were imposed for failure to award jail or prison credits they were ...

South Carolina Prison Officials Cheat Charity, Attempt Coverup

South Carolina Prison Officials Cheat Charity,
Attempt Coverup

by Michael Rigby


Officials at South Carolina's Lieber Correctional Institution (LCI) were supposed to be supplying free prison labor to a charity that builds portable housing for the elderly. Instead, they were stealing building materials and trying to extort money from ...

Washington Guards Settle Lawsuits For $7,270,000 And $810,000, Lose Third

by Michael Rigby


When most people hear prison lawsuit," they think of prisoners as the initiators. But the truth is, guards and other disgruntled prison workers are prolific litigators as well. In 2004, for instance, Washington's Pierce County Superior Court entertained three class-action lawsuits brought by Washington prison employees ...

Ohio Lawyer Suspended for Promising Favor from Judge for Money

Ohio Lawyer Suspended for Promising
Favor from Judge for Money

by Robert H. Woodman


Overruling a more lenient recommendation from the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, the Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Dayton attorney Daniel L. O'Brien from the practice of law. O'Brien was found guilty ...

Harsher Oregon Parole Statute Cannot Be Applied Retroactively

by John E. Dannenberg


A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Oregon's Revised Statute § 144.125(3)(a) (1993) was an ex post facto law as applied to denying parole to an Oregon prisoner whose crime predated the statute.

Gilbert Brown was ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

On February 1, 2005, the Ninth Circuit US court of appeals upheld the injunctions in Prison Legal News v. Lehman, 272 F. Supp.2d 1151 (WD WA 2003) which require that the Washington Department of Corrections deliver PLN's subscription renewal letters, book and subscription flyers and ...

Problems Plague Illinois Jails And Prisons, Employees Watch Television for Pay

Problems Plague Illinois Jails And Prisons,
Employees Watch Television for Pay

by Michael Rigby


While Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was using Department of Corrections (DOC) resources to monitor his image on television, sex, drugs, and violence reigned supreme in the state's jails and prisons.

In 2002 and 2003, Illinois ...

Connecticut Woman Gang-Raped In Sheriff's Van Settles Suit For $480,000

by Michael Rigby


The State of Connecticut has paid $480,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a female prisoner who was gang-raped by male prisoners in the back of a sheriff's van.

On August 18, 1999, S.C. was a prisoner being transported in a New Haven County ...

Prison Population Still Rising in Mid-Year 2003

by Robert H. Woodman


In May, 2004, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that as of June 30, 2003, the total State prison and jail population rose 2.6% from the same date in the previous year, while the Federal prison population rose 5.4% during the same period ...

Exhaustion of Administrative Remedy Requirement May be Excused

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the failure to exhaust administrative remedies may be excused in limited circumstances and should be excused in this case. This civil rights action arose from events that occurred while Ivan Rodriguez was incarcerated in New York's Westchester County Jail (WCJ ...

Wrongfully-Convicted Missouri Woman Receives $7.5 Million After 16 Years in Prison

Wrongfully-Convicted Missouri Woman Receives
$7.5 Million After 16 Years in Prison

by Matthew T. Clarke


On September 14, 2004, the St. Louis suburb of Dellwood settled a suit by a woman wrongfully convicted of murder for $7.5 million.

In January 1983, Ellen Maria Reasonover, a 5'-7, 120-pound ...

Judges Of Death

As the nation pondered the fate of a young California man being sentenced to death, the case of another man, one lesser-known, one without wealth or whiteness, comes back before the nation's highest court, after having been shunted through a series of killing courts in Texas.

Thomas Miller-El, 53 ...

U.S. v. Booker: The Left Wing Gives and the Right Wing Takes Away

U.S. v. Booker: The Left Wing Gives
and the Right Wing Takes Away

by David Zuckerman


As federal prisoners are well aware, the facts found by a jury often bear little relation to the facts relied on at sentencing. Under the federal Guidelines, the sentencing judge determines a wide ...

Delaware Prisoner's $100,000 Damage Award For Retaliation Upheld

by Michael Rigby


A disabled Delaware prisoner's $100,000 damage award for retaliation will stand, a federal district court in Delaware has held.

On August 20, 1999, Roger Atkinson, a blind prisoner with a host of medical problems, sued Delaware prison officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 after ...

Fulton County Jail under Federal Control

by David M. Reutter


For the second time since 1999, Georgia Federal District Judge Marvin H. Shoob has taken over supervision of the Fulton County Jail. Fulton County Jail Sheriff, Jacquelyn H. Barrett, told the court to go ahead, telling the court that appointing a receiver to oversee the jail ...

9th Circuit Explains Habeas Jurisdiction Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Upholds Washington Transfer to Priv

9th Circuit Explains Habeas Jurisdiction Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Upholds Washington Transfer to Private Prison


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that a state prisoner serving time on a state court judgment must seek habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ...

NO FTCA or IIED Claims Stated in Oregon Testicular Radiation Case

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prisoner who voluntarily participated in testicular radiation experiments while in prison did not establish a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) violation. The court also held that the prisoner did not establish a prima facie claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress ...

Uprising by Vermont Prisoners Damages CCA Prison in Kentucky

by Matthew T. Clarke


On September 14, 2004, a prisoner uprising rocked the 816-bed, 88-acre Lee Adjustment Center (LAC), a private prison owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in Lee County, Kentucky.


The Prison


LAC was built in 1990 as a 400-bed, minimum-security prison by a private ...

Destruction of Exculpatory Disciplinary Evidence May Violate Due Process Clause

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York's order denying prison officials' motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds in a prison discipline case.

In 2003 Anthony Palmer was incarcerated at New ...

New York Jail's Strip Search Policy Permanently Enjoined

A federal court in New York held that the Orange County Correctional Facility's (OCCF) strip search policy violated the Fourth Amendment by authorizing strip searches without individualized reasonable suspicion that a detainee possessed contraband. The court found that the balance of hardships tipped in favor of plaintiffs and warranted ...

Oregon Ban On Sexually Explicit Mail, Fantasy Games Upheld, State Law Claims Remanded

The Ninth Circuit federal Court of Appeals held that Oregon prison officials did not violate a prisoner's rights to freedom of speech and due process by refusing to deliver publications purportedly containing sexually explicit and role-playing or similar fantasy games or materials. The court also upheld a grant of ...

Washington Community Custody Sanctions Upheld

The Washington State Court of Appeals for Division 2 has affirmed a trial court's imposition of sanctions for community custody violations, for which the State Department of Corrections (DOC) had previously sanctioned Michael David Collins.

In January 2002, Collins was convicted of assault with sexual motivation and failure to ...

Delaware Prisoner Killed In Hostage Standoff, Counselor Raped

By Michael Rigby


On July 12, 2004, Scott A. Miller, a Delaware prisoner serving a 699-year sentence for rape, assault and kidnapping, was shot to death by a prison guard at the Delaware Correctional Center. The shooting ended a 6 ½ hour standoff in which Miller had taken 27-year-old counselor ...

Summary Judgment Reversed In Los Angeles Jail Over-Detention Suit

In a suit for damages against Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca for over detention of jail prisoners court-ordered for release, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that summary judgment for Baca was not available where the facts showed a practice of deliberate indifference to the constitutional ...

Harsh Pre-trial Conditions of Confinement Justify Reduced Federal Sentence

Harsh Pre-trial Conditions of Confinement
Justify Reduced Federal Sentence

by Matthew T. Clarke


A New York federal court has held that harsh pre-trial conditions of confinement justify a downward departure in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Jubelequis Mateo, a New York federal prisoner, filed a motion for downward departure under the ...

Fourth Circuit Reinstates Federal Prisoner's FTCA Claim

In an unpublished decision involving a prisoner's lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment of the prisoner's claim.

Dwayne Manning, a federal prisoner, alleged that during a search of ...

Pennsylvania Statute Banning Sex Between Staff and Prisoners Upheld

In a unanimous decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed a trial court ruling that had found a Pennsylvania statute prohibiting sex between prisoners and prison staff unconstitutional. The court remanded the case to the lower court for trial.

Eileen Mayfield was a guard at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility (MCCF ...

$78,435 in Attorney Fees for Successful Challenge to Pennsylvania's Megan's Law

by Matthew T. Clarke


A federal court in Pennsylvania has awarded the plaintiff's attorneys $78,435 in attorney fees and costs in an action that challenged the application of the community notification provision-of Pennsylvania's Registration of Sex Offenders Act (Megan's Law), 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9791-9799.6 ...

PHS and Florida Sheriff Fight Over Liability in Jail Beating Death Suit

Florida's Second District Court of Appeals has reversed the grant of summary judgment to the Florida Association of Counties Trust (FACT) and the Sheriff of Polk County in a lawsuit seeking indemnification by Prison Health Services (PHS).

On April 17, 1994, while a prisoner at Florida's Polk County ...

Mailbox Rule Applies to Texas Prisoners Civil Filings

The Texas Supreme Court has held that the mailbox rule applies to civil litigation filed by Texas prisoners in Texas state courts, overruling at least two previous court of appeals decisions.

Charles Clay Warner, Jr., a Texas state prisoner, brought suit against a prison employee in Texas state district court ...

Civil Punitive Damages On Top Of Criminal Punishment Is Not Double Punishment

Civil Punitive Damages On Top Of Criminal Punishment
Is Not Double Punishment

by John E. Dannenberg


The California Court of Appeals held that a drunk driver convicted of vehicular manslaughter was not constitutionally immune from the second punishment of punitive damages obtained in a subsequent civil suit by the decedent ...

Arizona Appellate Court Vacates Restitution Order In Escape Case

The Arizona Court of Appeals (COA), Division II, has vacated a trial court's restitution order requiring a state prisoner to reimburse the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) for costs allegedly incurred as the result of a prison escape.

On September 29, 2000, Clayton Guilliams, an ADOC prisoner assigned to ...

Idaho Prisoner States Valid Retaliation Claim Against Parole Commission

Idaho Prisoner States Valid Retaliation
Claim Against Parole Commission


The Idaho Court of Appeals held that material fact issues regarding a prisoner's claim that he was retaliated against because of his litigious activities precluded summary judgment of his lawsuit against the parole commission.

Richard Drennon, a prisoner at the ...

Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising

By Staughton Lynd; Temple University Press, 2004; soft cover, 244 pages.

$16.95

Reviewed by Karen G. Thimmes



Death Row in Ohio is located at Mansfield Correctional Institution, a stone's throw from the fabled Mansfield Penitentiary, where much of the Shawshank Redemption was filmed. But for four men, conveniently ...

Missouri Post-Conviction Proceedings Not Encompassed By PLRA Payment Scheme

Missouri Post-Conviction Proceedings Not
Encompassed By PLRA Payment Scheme



The Missouri court of appeals has held that because a Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15 motion is not a civil action encompassed by the state's Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 506.360 to 506.390 (2000 ...

Massachusetts Court Imposes Time Limits For Unrepresented Criminal Defendants

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that if an attorney is unavailable to represent an indigent criminal defendant, the defendant must be released within 7 days and the case against that defendant dismissed within 45 days.

This consolidated case arose from separate actions brought by the Committee for Public ...

News in Brief:

Alaska: On February 5, 2005, Alaska attorney general Gregg Renkes (R)resigned after it came to light that while promoting a trade deal with a Taiwanese energy company he held some $100,000 worth of stock in the company and had served as its lobbyist and adviser before becoming attorney ...

Washington Absconding Does Not Toll LFO Collection Statue

The Washington State Court of Appeals for Division 1 has held that RCW 9.94A.753 affords the state 10 years from a prisoner’s release from total confinement in which to collect Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) from prisoners. The court also held that a probationer’s absconding does not ...