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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: January, 1997

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Volume 8, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. Second Circuit Rejects Prison FLSA Claim, Modifies Standard (p 1)
  2. Washington Pork Refuses to Be Trimmed: Guard Towers Stay (p 3)
  3. New Prisoner Resource Guide Available (p 3)
  4. From the Editor (p 4)
  5. Law Against Love (p 4)
  6. From the Inside Looking Out (p 5)
  7. From the Editor (p 5)
  8. DiIulio's Crime Solution (p 6)
  9. Prison Time vs. Crime Rate Study (p 6)
  10. Ninth Circuit Rules on Washington ADA Suit (p 7)
  11. PLRA Fees Don't Apply to Released Prisoners (p 8)
  12. Seventh Circuit Defines and Applies PLRA and AEDPA (p 8)
  13. NY Jail Consent Decrees Vacated under PLRA (p 8)
  14. Beating Damages Affirmed; PLRA Not Retroactive on Vacated Attorney Fees (p 9)
  15. Seventh Circuit Applies PLRA to Federal Prisoners (p 9)
  16. Center for Advocacy of Human Rights Update (p 9)
  17. Virginia Hawks Parolees' Names (p 10)
  18. No Qualified Immunity for Private Prisons; Supreme Court Grants Review (p 11)
  19. Habeas Corpus Study (p 12)
  20. Prisoner Litigation in the US Courts (p 12)
  21. Publications of Interest (p 12)
  22. Washington Religious Name Retaliation Suit Settled (p 13)
  23. Call Recipient's Rights Not Violated in Phone Taping (p 13)
  24. County Liable for Trustee's Work; No Remedy for Illegal Detention (p 14)
  25. News in Brief (p 15)
  26. Washington Prisoner May Have Right to Attend Paternity Hearing (p 30)
  27. New York Sex Offender Registration Enjoined (p 30)

Second Circuit Rejects Prison FLSA Claim, Modifies Standard

[Editor's Note: The following article is the first of a three part series on prison slave labor. The other two articles will appear in the next two issues of PLN.]

The court of appeals for the second circuit held that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1) does not apply to prisoners that work providing services to the prison. In doing so the court modified the test it had previously applied to prisoner FLSA cases in Carter v. Dutchess Community College, 735 F.2d 8 (2nd Cir. 1984).

Ragnar Danneskjold is a New York state prisoner employed as a clerk-tutor by Niagra Frontier ("the consortium"), an association of community colleges that provide college courses to New York state prisoners. In addition to professional teaching staff the consortium uses trained student prisoners to help administer the program and tutor other student prisoners. Danneskjold was paid between $.95 and $1.45 a day by the DOC for his labor. He filed suit claiming that as a clerk-tutor he was entitled to receive the minimum wage for all hours he had worked. Relying on Carter the district court held that Danneskjold and the consortium were ...

Washington Pork Refuses to Be Trimmed: Guard Towers Stay

In the August and November, 1995, issues of PLN we reported the passage of House Bill (HB) 2010 and the DOC's 1996-97 budget by the Washington state legislature. Among HB 2010's provisions were instructions for the DOC to study the use of electrical perimeter fences to replace guard towers. In the DOC's budget appropriation the legislature claimed it would "save" $1.5 million by reducing tower staffing at various prisons. At the time PLN was skeptical that any such "savings" would actually materialize. PLN was right.

In August, 1995, the DOC duly announced it would eliminate 23 guard tower positions at prisons in Clallam Bay (CBCC), Shelton (WCC), Walla Walla (WSP), McNeil Island (MICC) and the Reformatory (WSR) in Monroe. No guards would have actually been laid off as a result of the positions eliminated. Instead, tower guards would have been transferred to other duties and the projected "savings" would have been through attrition and unfilled vacancies. Video cameras and motion detectors were ordered to compensate for the staffing reduction.

The guards meanwhile squealed like, well, stuck pigs. The Washington Public Employees Association (WPEA), which is the union that represents prison guards, filed suit over the tower ...

New Prisoner Resource Guide Available

The Prisoner Rights Union of California has released its 72 page 1996-98 resource guide. While aimed at California prisoners (it lists the addresses of all prisons, legislators, courts, public defenders, etc., in the state) the guide contains numerous sections of interest to prisoners and activists on a national level. This includes sections on health and immigration services, legal assistance, pen pals, publications, visiting, veterans assistance, imprisoned parents and much more. The guide is available for $10, stamps are accepted as payment.

The PRU also publishes the California Prisoner, a quarterly tabloid newspaper reporting issues affecting California prisoners. Subscriptions are $10 for prisoners; $35 for non prisoners. Contact: PRU, P.O. Box 1019, Sacramento, CA 95812-1019.

From the Editor

Welcome to PLN's eighth year of publication. We're proud that we have published longer than any other independent prisoner publication we know of. You should be proud, too. You're the ones who have made it possible. Recently we conducted an "Emergency Relief" direct mail fundraiser. Many of you responded promptly and generously. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each of you who came through for us in the clutch. We were hoping to raise $10,000 dollars. To date we have received more than $3,000 dollars. I thank you all.

This edition of PLN features our second annual published subject and citation index. I want to thank Paul and Sandy who both worked very hard on this year's index. Many of you have written and told us how useful the indexes from previous years have been. Don't forget, although 1996 is the second published index, we have compiled and printed annual indexes going back to 1990-91 (which together count as one year). You can order the 1996 index and previous annual indexes separately for $5 each. Or you can get any year's index FREE when ordering a complete-year set of ...

Law Against Love

For several years now, MOVE political prisoner Chuck Africa, has had to do battle with Pennsylvania prison officials to obtain the most fundamental of human rights -- the right to visit with his wife, May 13th, 1985 bombing survivor and ex-political prisoner, Ramona Africa.

Chuck, a veteran of the August 8th, 1978 police-MOVE confrontation who, like his eight other MOVE brothers and sisters, is doing a 100-year prison term following a political show-trial and sham conviction, has sued the prison at Graterford, in southeastern Pennsylvania, for denying him such visits.

Graterford Warden Donald Vaughn said he was "uneasy" with Ramona, a former prisoner, visiting a current prisoner, due to "intangible concerns."

When pressed, Vaughn wrote, to justify the exclusion of Chuck's wife, "I could not ignore the fact that Ms. Africa is a very vocal, high-profile member of MOVE ... highly critical of authority and the establishment."

Therefore, he worried that she "might question Graterford's policies and procedures, challenge correctional officers' actions and otherwise draw attention to herself," which may, in turn, "jeopardize security" and "disrupt normal operations."

Putting aside the obvious question, (which is, why shouldn't some prison procedures and guards' actions be challenged or questioned) the fact ...

From the Inside Looking Out

The late Malcom Forbes once said it was "more fun to arrive at a conclusion than to justify it." Brookings Institute senior fellow Dr. John J. DiIulio has certainly arrived at a conclusion, but his justifications range from questionable to outright hog wash. On closer examination, the reality of the prison yard is much different than the ruminations from the hallways of a conservative Washington think tank.

In a recent nationally disseminated editorial, DiIulio passionately advocated that what the country needs are more prisons. The foundation of his argument was summed up in the title of his op-ed piece, "Most In Prison Deserve To Be There."[1]

He initiates his argument by citing studies (two of which are conveniently his own) observing those in prison committed several crimes prior to their current incarceration and/or are not simply the first time drug offenders many lament over. In short, that by the multiplicity of their criminal histories they deserve to be behind bars for public safety considerations.

What DiIulio does not mention is that nearly two-thirds of state inmates have never been incarcerated before, nor have a majority of them convicted of a violent crime. Of the third who committed a ...

From the Editor

by Dan Pens

Welcome to PLN's eighth year of publication. We're proud that we have published longer than any other independent prisoner publication we know of. You should be proud, too. You're the ones who have made it possible. Recently we conducted an "Emergency Relief" direct mail fundraiser. Many of you responded promptly and generously. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each of you who came through for us in the clutch. We were hoping to raise $10,000 dollars. To date we have received more than $3,000 dollars. I thank you all.

This edition of PLN features our second annual published subject and citation index. I want to thank Paul and Sandy who both worked very hard on this year's index. Many of you have written and told us how useful the indexes from previous years have been. Don't forget, although 1996 is the second published index, we have compiled and printed annual indexes going back to 1990-91 (which together count as one year). You can order the 1996 index and previous annual indexes separately for $5 each. Or you can get any year's index FREE when ordering a ...

DiIulio's Crime Solution

Like a party clown twisting balloons into cute animal shapes, John J. DiIulio Jr. twists facts, myths, and statistics into fantastical logical conclusions.

DiIulio is professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University. He is also a media-darling of the lock-em-up, conservative right. Professor DiIulio insists that imprisonment is a highly cost-effective solution for what ails America. He produces a dazzling array of statistical magic tricks to the delight of those who seek proof that locking up more citizens than any country in the world isn't sufficient -- we need to lock up more.

One of his most oft-cited statistical fallacies is featured in a National Institutes of Justice study which claims that violent crimes committed each year will cost victims and society more than $400 billion in medical bills, lost days from work, lost quality of life - and lost life.

Mr. DiIulio fails to mention anything about the "lost quality of life" or "lost days of work" of the 1.5 million people currently imprisoned in this country. Presumably their "quality of life" has no calculable financial value to society.

In a recent New York Times article, DiIulio weaves an impressive array of statistical humbuggery. He cites Patrick ...

Prison Time vs. Crime Rate Study

According to a study in August 1995, by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, putting more people in state prisons has had little effect on California's crime rate. In only two categories of criminal activity analyzed in the study -- robbery and larceny -- did the crime rate appear to have dropped due to more people being incarcerated. However, it wasn't clear that aggressive imprisonment efforts were responsible for the drop, the report said.

To study the effect of expanded imprisonment as a crime control tactic, the researchers used mathematical techniques to estimate how California's crime rates in selected categories would have behaved had the prison population remained constant. They compared the projected rates to the rates actually reported. The study apparently contradicts supporters of the state's "Three Strikes" law, which requires life sentences for criminals with three felony convictions.

Mike Reynolds, a Fresno businessman who helped pass the "Three Strikes" initiative, said serious crime in California had dropped nearly 8 percent in the first six months of 1994, in part because of the new, tough sentencing law. The study indicated that increasing the state's prison population didn't decrease the rate of crime in ...

Ninth Circuit Rules on Washington ADA Suit

[Editor's Note: Leonard Feldman is the Seattle attorney representing the plaintiff in the case discussed below.]

Sean Duffy, the plaintiff in Duffy v. Riveland, 1996 WL 583384 (9th Cir. October 11, 1996), is a prisoner at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, Washington. Sean also is hearing-impaired. Although Sean can read and write, he does not always express his thoughts clearly because his writing resembles American Sign Language, which is more conceptual than English and has its own form of grammar. Like many hearing- impaired persons, Sean often communicates most effectively with the assistance of a sign language interpreter.

Each year, Sean is asked to defend himself at classification hearings and the occasional disciplinary hearing. As many readers know, these are important hearings that affect whether prisoners are released on parole, transferred to an area or another prison with better living conditions, or subjected to sanctions, such as administrative or disciplinary segregation.

Despite the importance of these hearings, prison officials have consistently refused to provide a sign language interpreter for Sean other than Frances Linder, a mental health counselor who works for the Washington Department of Corrections and who apparently learned some sign language from her parents. Sean already ...

PLRA Fees Don't Apply to Released Prisoners

The court of appeals for the second circuit held that the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requiring payment of filing fees do not apply if the prisoner is released after filing suit. Clarence McGann, a New York state prisoner, sued over the denial of social security benefits to prisoners. His suit was dismissed as frivolous because he had not exhausted his administrative remedies. McGann then filed an appeal, In Forma Pauperis (IFP) without paying the filing fees due to his poverty. During this time the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was passed into law. The appeals court notified McGann that under the PLRA he was required to pay the full filing fee, either up front or if IFP, in monthly payments. In the meantime McGann was released from prison.

The appeals court noted that the PLRA is facially inconsistent as applied to released prisoners. Specifically, it requires prisoners to pay filing fees on appeals and McGann was a prisoner when he filed the appeal. The PLRA then states the amounts to be paid are calculated from the balance of deposits into the prisoner's account and are debited from it. Because McGann was no longer a prisoner ...

Seventh Circuit Defines and Applies PLRA and AEDPA

In five consolidated appeals the seventh circuit held that for purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) neither habeas corpus petitions nor petitions for mandamus in criminal proceedings constitute "prisoner litigation" and thus do not require payment of filing fees by indigent litigants. The court also held that prisoners who gave their notice of appeal prior to the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) were not required to obtain certificates of appealability.

Writs of Mandamus: The court held that writs of mandamus in criminal proceedings are not subject to the PLRA's fee provisions because such writs are not a form of "prisoner litigation" as the person filing the petition may not even be a prisoner. Nor are such writs civil actions. "It is a procedural step in the criminal litigation, like an interlocutory or final appeal or a civil contempt proceeding against a witness. However, if it is a writ of mandamus in a civil proceeding, it must comply with the PLRA.'' See: In Re Nagy, 89 F.3d 115 (2nd Cir. 1996) and Green v. Nottingham, 90 F.3d 415 (10th Cir. 1996).

AEDPA: The court noted that Fed.R.App.P. 4 ...

NY Jail Consent Decrees Vacated under PLRA

A federal district court in New York upheld the constitutionality of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) and terminated a series of consent decrees in seven cases that governed conditions at Rikers Island and several other New York City jails. Readers should note that the judge in this case, Harold Baer, recently attracted national media attention when he ordered the suppression of drugs in a criminal case because New Yorkers of sound mind have reason to fear the police and run from them. After presidential candidate Bob Dole and president Bill Clinton called for his resignation or impeachment after that ruling, Baer hurriedly reversed himself and admitted the drugs into evidence. Apparently Baer learned his lesson well and will not be ruling for prisoners or criminal defendants anytime soon. That said, Baer's ruling gives a political and historical context to prison litigation, noting that since their inception in the US prisons have been overcrowded, unsanitary, dehumanizing pits of squalor and despair. He also notes the failure of American criminal justice policy in terms of incarcerating more citizens for longer periods.

The PLRA provides for the immediate termination of consent decrees upon motion by either party. In this case the ...

Beating Damages Affirmed; PLRA Not Retroactive on Vacated Attorney Fees

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit affirmed a jury verdict awarding damages to two prisoners who were beaten by prison guards and then denied medical care for their injuries for nearly two days. The court held that guards who beat prisoners have a duty to secure medical care ...

Seventh Circuit Applies PLRA to Federal Prisoners

In five consolidated appeals the court of appeals for the seventh circuit applied the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) to actions brought by federal prisoners. The court held that this ruling, together with Martin v. United States, 96 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 1996) and Abdul Wadood v. Nathan, 91 F.3d 1023 (7th Cir. 1996) resolved the most pressing issues encountered by the seventh circuit in implementation of the PLRA.

Habeas: The court held that petitions by federal prisoners under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, 2254 or 2255 challenging their criminal convictions or sentences were not within the purview of the PLRA because they are a continuation of the petitioner's initial criminal case. "A proper § 2241 action, concerning conditions of confinement, a deprivation of good time credits, or other matters that occur at the prison, by contrast, would not be a continuation of the criminal case, and it would be subject to the Act."

Untimely Appeals: The court held that the full filing fee will be assessed against prisoners who file untimely appeals that are dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The court reasoned that since solvent litigants must pay full filing fees and do not get a refund ...

Center for Advocacy of Human Rights Update

Much has happened in recent months and I thought you should hear firsthand that The Center for Advocacy of Human Rights (CAHR) is in the process of being dissolved. For one thing, Little Rock Reed and I have gone our separate ways. Although he has indicated to me that he is finished with prisoners rights work, I really do not know what his future plans are. He is, however, still awaiting a decision from the New Mexico Supreme Court on his case.

As for me, I believe I can do more to reform the present criminal justice system by continuing my teaching in the criminal justice department at the University of New Mexico-Taos. Furthermore, I simply do not have the time to continue operating CAHR as I have just been elected President of the UNM-Taos faculty. In addition, I expect to be offered the position of coordinator of the criminal justice program here at Taos within the next month. I hope you
understand what a great opportunity this is for me to really make a difference.

Anyway, from now on, please save both your time and your stamps by not writing to us for assistance anymore.

Unfortunately, Little Rock left ...

Virginia Hawks Parolees' Names

Beginning in July 1996, the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) began publishing what has so far proven to be a hot seller: lists of parolees' names, address, offenses, sex and race. The parolee lists costs $5 per zip code. Bargain hunters, however, can purchase a parolee list covering the entire state for $37.50. That comes to about a third of a cent per parolee's name.

The Virginia ACLU is protesting the policy. In an Aug. 1 letter to Gov. George Allen, state ACLU executive director Kent Willis wrote, "Unless you retract or significantly redesign this policy, it will surely be used in future years as a study in how state policy should not be made."

David Botkins, a DOC spokesperson, said the Attorney General's Office has reviewed the policy and that state officials were confident the program was legal. All parolees had to be notified under the state Privacy Act. Botkins said that notices were mailed to all 10,000 parolees.

As of August 1, the DOC had received 625 inquiries, and 230 responses were sent out - numbers that outpaced expected demand. "It s really fulfilling to hear some of the people that are calling in ... they ...

No Qualified Immunity for Private Prisons; Supreme Court Grants Review

The court of appeals for the sixth circuit held that guards employed by private, for profit prisons are not entitled to qualified immunity from suit. This is the first circuit court ruling to squarely address whether private prisons are entitled to qualified immunity. Until now only district courts had ruled on the issues, reaching different results.

Qualified immunity is an affirmative defense available to government employees sued for money damages in civil rights suits. (See June, 1996, PLN, Pro Se Tips and Tactics). In general, government defendants won't be held liable unless they violate rights that are clearly established. With the rise of privately operated, for profit prisons, the number of civil rights suits against them has increased.

Ronnie McKnight is a Tennessee state prisoner housed in a prison run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). McKnight filed suit claiming his eighth amendment rights were violated by CCA employees when they used tight restraints to transport him to a different prison. The tight restraints caused him serious medical injury requiring hospitalization. McKnight's protests were ignored by two CCA guards, who taunted him after he complained of the tight restraints. The CCA guards filed a motion to dismiss the ...

Habeas Corpus Study

Review by Jon Marc Taylor

A recent discussion paper published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports the results of the National Center for State Courts analysis into the processing of federal habeas corpus petitions. The study encompassed 18 Federal district courts located in 9 selected states (Alabama, California, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas), which comprise approximately half of the nation's 10,000 yearly filings. The report breaks down by state the number of habeas corpus filings per 1,000 prisoners. Nationally the average is 14, with Missouri and North Dakota leading the commonwealths with 37 and the District of Columbia closing the list at 3 filings per 1,000 prisoners.

The most frequently raised challenge to a conviction is that the prisoner received ineffective assistance of counsel; fewer issues claim constitutional violations by the trial court, prosecutor, or the police. Nearly a third (31%) of petitions raise a single issue, with 26% raising two issues, 30% three issues, and 11% four issues or more.

Only 1% of the sentences involve death penalties, although 21% are life sentences. Case processing time was found to vary widely with 25% of the cases processed within 83 days, 50 ...

Prisoner Litigation in the US Courts

This is a 311 page book by federal District of Columbia district court judge Charles Richey. The book is aimed primarily at federal court judges who must deal with pro se prisoner litigation. It also gives an excellent explanation of procedural and constitutional issues to prisoners who file suit in federal court.

The book covers each phase of a prison civil rights lawsuit, from drafting a complaint to issuance of a summons. It discusses the appointment of counsel in civil rights cases as well as the award of attorney fees. Extensively footnoted, the book contains numerous case citations dealing with prison constitutional issues, which will be useful to anyone litigating such claims.

The only drawbacks to this otherwise well written and informative book are that shortly after it was printed the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was signed into law; which significantly changed the procedural aspects of prison litigation by pro se litigants. (See July, 1996, PLN). The book contains numerous forms but they are all sample orders for judges to use, not motions for use by litigants. Lastly, much of the book focuses on District of Columbia law which is somewhat different from that in other circuits. Despite this ...

Publications of Interest

Punch and Jurists is a six page weekly newsletter which reports federal criminal rulings of significance. Aimed at defense attorneys and criminal practitioners, Punch and Jurists puts the latest court rulings into the overall context of ever diminishing rights for defendants. Well written and comprehensive, this newsletter is an excellent addition to any library. They also maintain an extensive web site and offer other resources. Subscriptions are $360.00 a year. Write: Punch and Jurists, P.O. Box 246, Peter Cooper Station, New York, NY 10003. (212) 765-9695.

Report on the Americas is a bi-monthly magazine which reports on political developments in Latin America. PLN readers will find the September/October, 1996 issue of interest. Titled "Injustice for All: Crime and Impunity in Latin America," articles discuss the collapse of the Venezuelan prison system; the use, and abuse, of anonymous, hooded judges in Columbia; U.S. support for the Haitian police and state sponsored violence against "social undesirables" throughout Latin America. The most interesting essay, "Law and Order?" by Paul Chevigny, examines police violence across the Americas, highlighting the fact that the "war on crime" is not an exclusively American phenomenon. Subscriptions are $27 a year for six issues. Write ...

Washington Religious Name Retaliation Suit Settled

In the July, 1996 and August, 1994, issues of PLN we reported Malik v. Brown, 71 F.3d 724 (9th Cir. 1995) and 16 F.3d 330 (9th Cir. 1994), in which Washington state prisoner, and PLN supporter, Dawud Malik was punished by prison officials for using his legally changed ...

Call Recipient's Rights Not Violated in Phone Taping

The court of appeals for the second circuit held that the rights of the free person accepting a collect call from a prisoner are not violated when the calls are taped and monitored by law enforcement officials. It also held prisoners consent to the taping of their calls if they know the calls are taped and use the phones anyway.

This case originated as a motion to suppress in a drug racketeering case that involved several murders as well as drug distribution. Donald Green was first convicted in state court and sent to a New York state prison where he continued his involvement in drug trafficking, issuing commands from prison over prison phones that were plainly labeled as being monitored. Derwin Rodgers received many of Green's calls outside the prison. At their criminal trial in federal court the defendants moved to suppress the incriminating tapes of Green's phone calls. The motion was denied, the defendants were convicted and appealed.

The relevant portion of the appeals court ruling was that dealing with the phone calls. The court rejected the argument that Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. § 2510-22 ...

County Liable for Trustee's Work; No Remedy for Illegal Detention

The court of appeals for the fifth circuit held that a county was properly liable where it did not reimburse a jail detainee for work he performed on public property. The court also held that a pretrial detainee's work as a trusty does not violate the thirteenth amendment when ...

News in Brief

CA: In the August, 1996, issue of PLN we reported the March 29, 1996, rebellion by immigrant detainees at the navy brig at the Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego. The government stated that the rebellion, sixteen days after the jail opened, will cost at least $4 million and it has decided to permanently close the jail. The jail cost $2 million to build and another $2 million was spent treating people injured during the rebellion, mainly from smoke inhalation injuries. This was the first time a civilian jail had operated on an active military base.

CA: On October 18, 1996, a federal jury found former San Diego superior court judges G. Dennis Adams and James Malkus, and attorney Patrick Frega, guilty of mail fraud and racketeering. Frega paid the judges more than $100,000 in bribes to buy favorable decisions in cases he was litigating before the judges. Adams divorced his wife, who earns a six figure income, in order to qualify for the services of a public defender. Another former judge, Michael Green, pleaded guilty and testified against the others.

Columbia: On October 25, 1996, guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) stormed a jail ...

Washington Prisoner May Have Right to Attend Paternity Hearing

The Washington state court of appeals for Division II held that a county trial court erred when it did not consider a prisoner's motion to be allowed to attend a paternity hearing. Argie Dorsey was incarcerated when he was served with a paternity suit by the state seeking back child support and a determination of paternity. Dorsey's motion was never ruled on and while he later admitted paternity he was assessed more than $22,000 in back child support. The case will be useful to any Washington prisoners facing paternity proceedings.

The appeals court reversed and remanded for consideration of Dorsey's motion to appear at the hearing. The court noted that prisoners retain a state and federal right of meaningful access to the courts. This does not mean that prisoners have a constitutional right to personally appear in domestic relations actions. See: Whitney v. Buckner, 107 Wash.2d 861 (1987). Under Washington's Uniform Paternity Act, RCW 26.26.090 Dorsey had a right to be heard in court because he had a due process liberty interest in proceedings. The court held the trial court erred by refusing to address Dorsey's motion for transport to the ...

New York Sex Offender Registration Enjoined

A federal district court in New York held that a state law allowing public notification of sex offenders released from prison violates the ex post facto rights of those offenders convicted before the law was passed. Since 1990 at least 46 states, starting with Washington, have passed laws requiring sex offenders to register with police upon their release from prison. Some states also require or allow police to notify the public in areas where released sex offenders will live or work. In 1995 the New York legislature enacted the New York Sex Offender Registration Act, N.Y. Correction Law § 168, which was effective January 21, 1996. In passing this law the NY legislature tried to cure the defects that caused a federal court to strike down a similar New Jersey law, see: Artway v. Attorney General of New Jersey, 876 F. Supp. 666 (D NJ 1995), [PLN, Vol. 6, No. 7] reversed at 81 F.3d 1235 (3rd Cir. 1996), to no avail. The New York law has two components. One requires that sex offenders register with police, the other allows for three levels of notification to the public and other law enforcement agencies upon release. The law envisioned members ...

 

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