Posts tagged as:

prisoners

March 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 13, 2014

  • Claimed prison guard punched him in face: “Man convicted in Chicago-area mass murder awarded $500,000″ [WHAS, ABA Journal]
  • Ken White “immediately repulsed and enraged” by Mayer-Brown-repped suit seeking removal of Glendale, Calif. “comfort women” memorial [Popehat]
  • “Las Vegas: Man Sues Casino After $500k Loss ‘While Drunk’” [Sky News]
  • Regulators blame everyone but selves: “Drug Shortages Continue to Vex Doctors” [Sabrina Tavernese, NYT on GAO report, earlier here, here, etc., etc.]
  • Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli to speak tomorrow on “dereliction of duty” of AGs who decline to defend laws deemed unconstitutional, hope someone brings up this and this [more background; and his successor Mark Herring's view]
  • Oregon: “Portland State University will pay $161,500 to settle a lawsuit claiming it discriminated against disabled students who have service animals.” [AP/KOIN] Laws make it dangerous for business owners to draw line between legitimate, fake service dogs [L.A. Times]
  • Not The Onion: Canada telecoms regulator pushes XX cable channels to run more Canadian content [CBC, National Post]

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  • New insight into Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) casts doubt on criminal convictions [Radley Balko, earlier here, etc.]
  • “The Shadow Lengthens: The Continuing Threat of Regulation by Prosecution” [James Copland and Isaac Gorodetski, Manhattan Institute]
  • Police busts of “johns” thrill NYT’s Kristof [Jacob Sullum, earlier on the columnist]
  • Sasha Volokh series on private vs. public prisons [Volokh]
  • “Police agencies have a strong financial incentive to keep the drug war churning.” [Balko on Minnesota reporting]
  • Forfeiture: NYPD seizes innocent man’s cash, uses it to pad their pensions [Institute for Justice, Gothamist] “Utah lawmakers quietly roll back asset forfeiture reforms” [Balko] “The Top 6 Craziest Things Cops Spent Forfeiture Money On” [IJ video, YouTube]
  • After Florida trooper nabbed Miami cop for driving 120 mph+, 80 officers accessed her private info [AP]

New frontiers in chutzpah

by Walter Olson on February 17, 2014

In prison, Norway’s worst modern mass murderer complains of having to play outdated video games [EuroNews, Lowering the Bar, earlier on his 2012 complaint about not being allowed moisturizer]

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One would think the whole concept of the union-backed “correctional officers’ bill of rights” might have been thrown into disrepute by last year’s Maryland scandal, in which the statute was found to have entrenched problem guards even as the Baltimore jail descended into a scandalous state of gang-run corruption. But apparently not: the Pennsylvania House has unanimously (!) voted in favor of having that state adopt its own such “bill of rights,” weakening administrators’ power to investigate possible officer misconduct. Details of H.B. 976 here.

  • Why license plate scanning is an up-and-coming front in the surveillance wars [Radley Balko]
  • Prosecutor whose lapse sent innocent man to prison for 25 years will go to jail — for ten days [Adler, Shackford]
  • “Nurse fights charges she helped father commit suicide” [Phil. Inq., Barbara Mancini case, via @maxkennerly]
  • California inmates released, crime rates jump: a Brown v. Plata trainwreck? [Tamara Tabo, Heather Mac Donald/City Journal]
  • Driver arrested under Ohio’s new law banning hidden compartments in cars even though he had nothing illicit in the compartment [Shackford] Tenaha, Tex. traffic stops, cont’d: “Give Us Cash or Lose Your Kids and Face Felony Charges: Don’t Cops Have Better Things to Do?” [Ted Balaker/Reason, earlier]
  • Arizona Republic series on prosecutorial misconduct [4-parter]
  • Few act as if they care about Mr. Martin-Oguike’s fate at hands of a false accuser [Scott Greenfield]

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An inmate serving a long term at Solano state prison in California “has filed a lawsuit against a Sacramento-area car-repair-shop owner asking for $15,000 in damages for the lost use of his transmission.” While a 1996 federal law places limits on suits by federal prisoners, inmates in state prison systems like California’s, what with indulgent filing rules and plenty of time on their hands, “can tie up the court system with cases that would strike most anyone as frivolous. Their court fees are typically paid for by California taxpayers.” [Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune]

Or would it instead be a human rights violation to let hunger-striking inmates starve? Or maybe both? Debra Saunders quotes my puzzlement at “the emotional atmospherics of hunger strikes, in which people are using other people’s morality as a weapon against them.” [San Francisco Chronicle/ syndicated]

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And more litigation besides: “[Steven] Phillips sued a lawyer who billed him more than $1 million for lobbying lawmakers to increase the compensation for exonerees. And another ex-wife is seeking to recover child support that went unpaid during his years in prison. He said that he has spent at least $300,000 on lawyers since he was freed and that despite the compensation [package valued at $6 million], he has struggled to keep his business afloat.” [Texas Tribune] The “last thing a guy freed from 24 years of wrongful imprisonment needs is more time in court.” [Scott Greenfield]

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Justin Caldwell Somers, in jail for not paying a jaywalking fine, brutally murdered his sleeping cellmate by stomping him to death on the cement floor, but was found not criminally responsible because he had been acting under the influence of delusions and hallucinations. Now he is suing various personnel of the remand center for not preventing the incident, in part by not heeding the recommendation of a nurse and psychiatrist that he be housed alone: since the murder Somers “has experienced severe mental anguish and mental distress as a result of his role in causing the death of Mr. Stewart, as well as a result of the conditions of his incarceration.” [Edmonton Journal]

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Last month 13 guards and 12 others were indicted on charges of letting a gang effectively take over management of the Baltimore City Detention Center; according to the indictment, corrupt guards allegedly smuggled in drugs, cellphones and other contraband and had sex with the gang leader, several becoming pregnant by him. Since then the public and press has been asking what went wrong. A Washington Post editorial suggests one place they might look:

The absurd situation described in the indictment took root at least partly because of a “bill of rights” for corrections officers, backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and enacted by the Maryland legislature in 2010 at the behest of the guards union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. This bill of rights grants extraordinary protections to guards, including shielding them from threats of prosecution, transfer, dismissal or even disciplinary action during questioning for suspected wrongdoing.

While Gov. O’Malley has sought to minimize the relevance of the 2010 law, the Post notes that FBI recordings suggest that a guard who was deemed “dirty” was transferred to another facility, rather than fired — transfers-instead-of-firing being a less than optimal way of dealing with public employee corruption, but one typical of systems with strong tenure entrenchment. AFSCME, which boasted at the time of its “relentless lobbying” on behalf of the law, is now doing damage control. More: “those protections left officers at the jail without fear of sanctions for allegedly smuggling contraband or having relationships with inmates, the FBI said in an affidavit.” [Baltimore Sun] Union-allied lawmakers defend the measure [AP]

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“Nearly 18 years after a man was convicted of murder, he filed a lawsuit against the murdered victim’s family.” [KING 5; Tacoma, Wash.] Larry Shandola alleged that Paula Henry, widow of the murder victim, had said defamatory things about him, impeding a prison transfer to his native Canada. A judge in the state of Washington has now dismissed the suit. [National Post]

An inmate filing pro se gets certiorari, then follows through with a unanimous nine-Justice SCOTUS win, Thomas, J., correcting the Third Circuit. Credit Justice Alito? [Max Kennerly]

  • “Once your life is inside a federal investigation, there is no space outside of it.” [Quinn Norton, The Atlantic]
  • “Cops Detain 6-year-old for Walking Around Neighborhood (And It Gets Worse)” [Free-Range Kids] “Stop Criminalizing Parents who Let Their Kids Wait in the Car” [same]
  • Time to rethink the continued erosion of statutes of limitations [Joel Cohen, Law.com; our post the other day on Gabelli v. SEC]
  • “Are big-bank prosecutions following in the troubled footsteps of FCPA enforcement?” [Isaac Gorodetski, PoL]
  • The “‘professional’ press approach to the criminal justice system serves police and prosecutors very well. They favor reporters who hew to it.” [Ken at Popehat]
  • Scott Greenfield dissents from some common prescriptions on overcriminalization [Simple Justice]
  • Anti-catnip educational video might be a parody [YouTube via Radley Balko]
  • “Too Many Restrictions on Sex Offenders, or Too Few?” [NYT "Room for Debate"]
  • Kyle Graham on overcharging [Non Curat Lex] “The Policeman’s Legal Digest / A Walk Through the Penal Laws of New York (1934)” [Graham, ConcurOp]
  • “D.C. Council Proposes Pretty Decent Asset Forfeiture Reform” [John Ross, Reason] And the Institute for Justice reports on forfeiture controversies in Minnesota and Georgia.
  • Does prison privatization entrench a pro-incarceration lobby? [Sasha Volokh, more]

“[Keith Allen] Brown and four other inmates at Idaho’s Kuna facility are suing major beer companies, blaming their crimes on alcoholism and claiming that the companies are responsible because they don’t warn consumers that their products are addictive.” The laudatory Nicholas Kristof column practically writes itself, though one should note that the inmates “do not have attorneys and drafted the lawsuit themselves.” [Idaho Statesman]

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The Right rethinks prisons

by Walter Olson on November 22, 2012

How a seemingly unlikely assortment of libertarians, religious conservatives and small-government advocates have been helping to turn around the debate on incarceration. [David Dagan and Steven Teles, Washington Monthly]

Another milestone in chutzpah, this time from the perpetrator of last year’s politically motivated atrocity in Norway. “Perhaps they have moisturizer in Hell, sir, although one thinks it unlikely.” [Lowering the Bar]

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November 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 13, 2012

  • New law grads and others, come work for liberty at the Cato Institute’s legal associate program [Ilya Shapiro]
  • Lawsuit against United Nations seeks compensation for mass cholera outbreak in Haiti [Kristen Boon, Opinio Juris]
  • “Parents Sue Energy Drink After Girl’s Death” [NBC Washington; Hagerstown, Md.] “The New York Times Reveals That 18 Servings of an Energy Drink Might Be Excessive” [Jacob Sullum]
  • Claim: There is no explosion of patent litigation [Adam Mossoff, Truth on the Market, and further]
  • “After Inmates Sue for Dental Floss, Jailers Explain the Security Risk” [ABA Journal, earlier]
  • Court: First Amendment protects right of “The Bachelor” producers to consider contestants’ race [Volokh, earlier]
  • From Florida tobacco litigation to an, um, interesting higher-education startup [Inside Higher Ed, h/t Overlawyered commenter Jeff H.]

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“A group of Westchester County Jail inmates will have to fight their own legal battle for access to dental floss, a federal judge has ruled. …the 11 Westchester inmates… sued the county Sept. 10 for $500 million because they were denied access to dental floss.” [Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, White Plains Journal-News]

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