Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: March, 1996

Issue PDF
Volume 7, Number 3

In this issue:

  1. Prisoner ADA Suit Wins at Trial (p 1)
  2. GCI Corruption Continues (p 3)
  3. Lying Pathologist Imprisoned (p 3)
  4. From the Editor (p 4)
  5. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Individual and Official Capacity Suits) (p 5)
  6. Texas Medical Charge May Violate Due Process (p 6)
  7. National Convocation May 18-22 (p 7)
  8. How Many Times Do We Pay? (p 7)
  9. Qualified Immunity for ADA Suit (p 8)
  10. Interlocutory Appeals Discussed (p 9)
  11. Atlanta Jail Official Arrested (p 9)
  12. The Cost of Litigation (p 10)
  13. Case Updates (p 11)
  14. Legal Materials Available (p 12)
  15. Soledad Brother (p 12)
  16. Attorney Fees for Consent Decree Enforcement (p 13)
  17. Texas Guard Gets Probation for Killing Prisoner (p 13)
  18. Florida Chain Gangs (p 14)
  19. Forced Labor for Arizona Death Row Prisoners (p 14)
  20. Virginia Class Action Members Sought (p 15)
  21. Exposure to Fumes Violates 8th Amendment (p 15)
  22. Clippings Suit Set for Trial (p 16)
  23. Fact Disputes Not Immediately Appealable (p 16)
  24. Contempt Ruling Against LA Prisoncrats (p 17)
  25. No Specific Intent Required for 8th Amendment Claim (p 17)
  26. Seventh Circuit Discusses Sandin (p 18)
  27. Transexuals Entitled to Treatment (p 19)
  28. Private Prisons Get Qualified Immunity (p 20)
  29. Law on Retaliation Clearly Established in 2nd Circuit (p 20)
  30. Guard's Rectal Search States Claim (p 21)
  31. Prison Officials Can't Moot Law Library Suit by Transfer (p 21)
  32. Washington State Sues Over Aliens (p 22)
  33. News in Brief (p 22)
  34. US Supreme Court Grants Review in Forfeiture Cases (p 23)
  35. Muslims Granted TRO (p 23)

Prisoner ADA Suit Wins at Trial

by John Emry, Attorney at Law

Below is a report of a trial and recent retrial [ Cleo Love v. Westville Correctional Center, USDC, Northern District, South Bend Division, Indiana; 3:94CV0371RM] which had interesting results:

Plaintiff, a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair for several years, was committed to the custody ...

GCI Corruption Continues

In the September '94 and June '95 issues of PLN we reported the ongoing probes into corruption at Glades Correctional Institute (GCI), a medium security prison located near West Palm Beach Florida. In Turner v. LaMarca , 995 F.2d 1526 (11th Cir. 1993), a federal court found that GCI prisoners ...

Lying Pathologist Imprisoned

For more than ten years, Ralph Erdmann was a busy West Texas forensic pathologist. He worked in over 40 counties, billing Lubbock County alone $140,000 for over 400 autopsies in one year. Many of Erdmann's autopsy reports were presented as evidence in criminal trials, some of them death ...

From the Editor

In my October editorial I asked readers what they would like to see more of in PLN as well as any suggestions on how we could improve our content. One of the respondents, Richard Barker, said he would like to see more case law. As far as case law goes ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Individual and Official Capacity Suits)

[Editor's Note : With this issue of PLN we would like to introduce a new feature that our readers should find useful. John Midgley is an attorney with the Institutional Legal Services Project of Columbia Legal Services in Tacoma. He has been doing prison and criminal litigation in Washington state ...

Texas Medical Charge May Violate Due Process

Afederal district court in Texas has held that a prisoner's claim that he was wrongly charged for medical services should proceed to trial. Creighton Delverne is a convicted state prisoner who was awaiting transport to the state's prison system but was backlogged in the Harris County (Houston), TX ...

National Convocation May 18-22

The 1996 National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry will be held May 18-22, 1996 at the National 4-H Center, 7100 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase, Maryland. The theme of this year's gathering is "Fear and Violence in America: Building Bridges in a Prison Society." Keynote speakers, panelists, and workshop ...

How Many Times Do We Pay?

Across the country a litany of political voices have been raised demanding that prisons become tougher. One expediently popular way to achieve this punitive nirvana is to eliminate inmate "perks" such as televisions, weight lifting equipment and coffee pots. The idea being -- I guess -- to make prisons such pits of ...

Qualified Immunity for ADA Suit

The court of appeals for the fourth circuit ruled that Virginia prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity from an obese prisoner's suit filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (RA). The court went into extensive detail discussing the ADA, its application to state ...

Interlocutory Appeals Discussed

The eighth circuit court of appeals has distinguished recent supreme court decisions as to when interlocutory appeals can be heard by appeal courts. Gerry Reece, a Missouri state prisoner, was in protective custody due to being a DEA informant and a snitch in a murder trial. While in his cell ...

Atlanta Jail Official Arrested

Asenior Atlanta City Jail official was suspended from her job after being arrested on federal charges of attempting to hire a hit man to kill her boyfriend (the father of her young son), and the boyfriend's wife.

Rosetta Lee Soares, deputy director of Atlanta's Department of Corrections, was ...

The Cost of Litigation

by an Arizona Reader

In an era of prison bashing the focus on "frivolous lawsuits" rests fundamentally on those filed by prisoners. The question, "Why are the lawsuits necessary?", has yet to be asked, or answered. The turn-of-the-coin may, in a small but fundamental way, be illuminated in the holdings ...

Case Updates

Women Prisoners : In the November, 1995, edition of PLN we reported the appeal court's decision in Pargo v. Elliot , 49 F.3d 1355 (8th Cir. 1995) in which the appeals court reversed and remanded the case for the lower court to determine whether women prisoners in Iowa were similarly ...

Legal Materials Available

The Prisoners Self Help Legal Clinic (PSHLC) in New Jersey is a volunteer project of the ACLU and is made up of attorneys, former prisoner paralegals, law students, civil rights advocates and other members of the community who assist pro se prisoner litigants. The PSHLC's concept is, like PLN ...

Soledad Brother

Review by Elizabeth Schulte

This is a particularly relevant time to reissue Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson. This collection of letters that prisoner and activist George Jackson wrote from 1964 to 1970 speaks strongly of the brutality in the U.S. justice system. According to an October ...

Attorney Fees for Consent Decree Enforcement

The ninth circuit court of appeals partially reversed a district court ruling that use of 37mm gas guns was not appropriate for use on mentally ill prisoners and it affirmed an award of some $200,000 in attorney fees in monitoring a consent decree but reversed as to attorney fees ...

Texas Guard Gets Probation for Killing Prisoner

In the September '95 issue of PLN we reported the manslaughter conviction of Joel Lambright, Jr. He was the first Texas prison guard in history to be convicted of killing a prisoner. He was sentenced to serve a two to ten year sentence. After serving just three months of that ...

Florida Chain Gangs

In November, 1995, Florida became the third state, after Alabama and Arizona, to institute prison chain gangs. The prisoners work in 20-man crews, supervised by three gun toting guards. Prisoners are assigned to serve on the chain gang as punishment for disciplinary infractions.

The prisoners wear ankle chains, but are ...

Forced Labor for Arizona Death Row Prisoners

On November 22, 1995, a memo was distributed to Arizona's 119 death row prisoners. The memo relays an order issued by DOC chief Sam Lewis. It states in part: "Arizona Revised Statute 31-151 gives the Director of Corrections authority to require that each able bodied prisoner in the department ...

Virginia Class Action Members Sought

In 1982 Virginia state lawmakers passed Section 53.1-151 (B1), dubbed the "3-Time Loser Law." The law was modified several times over the years. The most recent rewrite, in 1994, reads, "Any person convicted of three separate felony offenses of (i) murder, (ii) rape, or (iii) robbery by the presenting ...

Exposure to Fumes Violates 8th Amendment

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit has held that it violates the eighth amendment to expose a prisoner to noxious fumes while he is locked in his cell. The court also discussed the application of qualified immunity in such cases. Steven Kelley is a California state prisoner. While ...

Clippings Suit Set for Trial

The court of appeals for the second circuit held that whether a New York DOCS policy prohibiting prisoners from receiving newspaper clippings furthered a penological interest was doubtful and needed to be resolved at trial. Jimmie Allen filed suit against various prison officials after they twice removed newspaper clippings from ...

Fact Disputes Not Immediately Appealable

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit has ruled that it lacks jurisdiction to hear interlocutory appeals by prison officials challenging the sufficiency of the evidence against them. Milton Sanders, a Missouri state prisoner, filed suit claiming his eighth amendment rights were violated when prison officials celled him with ...

Contempt Ruling Against LA Prisoncrats

U.S. district judge Frank Polozola ruled that Louisiana Secretary of Corrections Richard Stalder and Angola Warden Burl Cain be held in contempt. He ordered them each to contribute $1,000 to a victim compensation fund. Stalder, Cain, other wardens, assistant wardens and assorted prisoncrats were all ordered by judge ...

No Specific Intent Required for 8th Amendment Claim

The ninth circuit has held that for prison guards to violate the eighth amendment's ban on excessive force they need only have an intent to cause harm and do not need an intent to harm a specific, individual prisoner. This right was clearly established and guards were not entitled ...

Seventh Circuit Discusses Sandin

In the August, 1995, issue of PLN we reported the supreme court's ruling in Sandin v. Conner , 115 S.Ct. 2293 (1995), which essentially gutted prisoners' right to due process in prison disciplinary hearings. Sandin opened up more questions than it purported to answer and we predicted that the ...

Transexuals Entitled to Treatment

The court of appeals for the tenth circuit has held that transsexual prisoners state a cause of action under the eighth amendment when they are not provided with any medical treatment by prison officials. The court also held that parties must be given notice when a lower court converts a ...

Private Prisons Get Qualified Immunity

As the number of privately run, for profit, prisons grows, so too will litigation involving them. There is little case law involving private prisons. In this case a federal district court held that employees of a prison (run by the Wackenhut Corporation) in Louisiana were entitled to qualified immunity as ...

Law on Retaliation Clearly Established in 2nd Circuit

The court of appeals for the second circuit ruled that in 1990 the law in that circuit forbidding retaliation against prisoners who file grievances was clearly established and prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity from money damages. The court also held that it lacked jurisdiction to ascertain the ...

Guard's Rectal Search States Claim

Afederal district court in New York has ruled that use of a chokehold on an unresisting prisoner in order for guards, rather than medical personnel, to perform a digital rectal search states a claim to be resolved at trial. Narcissus Dellamore, a New York state prisoner, allegedly refused to allow ...

Prison Officials Can't Moot Law Library Suit by Transfer

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit has ruled that prison officials cannot moot a court's order for injunctive relief by transferring the prisoner plaintiff to another prison. It also held that issues not raised in parties' opening appeal briefs won't be considered. Daniel Dilley, a California ...

Washington State Sues Over Aliens

The state of Washington filed suit in federal district court on November 22, 1995. The suit seeks an injunction which would force the federal government to take all of Washington's 760 illegal alien prisoners (about 7% of the state's prison population) and house them in federal prisons.

A ...

News in Brief

Seychelles : This island nation in the Indian ocean has announced that for $10 million it will provide citizenship and a guarantee that persons taking advantage of this offer won't be extradited to any other country on criminal charges. The law states that $10 million buys citizenship and "immunity from ...

US Supreme Court Grants Review in Forfeiture Cases

On January 12, 1996, the US supreme court granted certiori and agreed to rule on a trilogy of forfeiture cases. The cases are: Degen v. U.S ., Case No. 95-173, which involves the question of whether a foreign property owner waives his right to contest a property forfeiture action when ...

Muslims Granted TRO

Afederal court in New York granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to Sufi Muslim prisoners which prevented the New York DOCS from implementing a policy banning the display of black Dhikr beads and banning possession of beads colored anything but black. The New York anti bead policy has also been ...