AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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California appeals court found that a trial court erred in ordering a prison
warden to either disclose unredacted copies of information in a prisoner's
file or else not rely on the information in opposing the prisoner's habeas
corpus petition. The information involved was conditionally privileged
and came from other prisoners who served as confidential informants. The
disclosure of their identities would necessarily endanger their lives.
Ochoa v. Superior Court, #H036970, 2011 Cal. App. Lexis 1290 (Cal. App.).
A former prisoner sued a prison doctor, claiming that he knew he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but had refused to provide him with antipsychotic medication, resulting in him hearing voices for six months while incarcerated. The trial court appointed a lawyer to represent him, after he stated that his mental impairment made it difficult to present his case. Despite this, the plaintiff's responses to discovery requests were late, incomplete, and vague, and he failed to provide medical records within his control. In response to a question about his medical treatment since 2000, the plaintiff stated that he had been hospitalized about 150 times, but offered no details about where or when, failing to name any hospitals or physicians. A federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit as a sanction for failing to comply with discovery requests. The court below had taken the prisoner's mental condition into account in extending deadlines and appointing a lawyer to assist him. Despite these accommodations, the plaintiff failed to cure defects in his discovery responses, and failed to appear in court when his presence was required by court order. Watkins v. Nielsen, #10-2366, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 25775 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A federal trial court granted a prisoner's motion for reconsideration and vacation of summary judgment in favor of a city in his lawsuit claiming that he was beaten and kicked by officers during city prison intake procedures. The city had produced, in an untimely manner, a corrections' sergeant's log. This log, which was a "critical document" in the case, was "inexplicably" not produced by the city during the discovery process, and was only made available after summary judgment in the case had been granted in the city's favor. In granting the city summary judgment, the court relied on the city's representation that the log did not exist, and the detainee was unable to use information contained in the log to respond to the motion for summary judgment. Shimoyama v. City of Philadelphia, Civil Action No. 05-6299, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 44690 (E.D. Pa.).
Plaintiff prisoner was entitled to production of pictures of six correctional officers who were allegedly present when he claimed officers assaulted him, for the purpose of identifying his assailants in a federal civil rights lawsuit. Murphy v. West, No. 04-CV-6615, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 8435 (W.D.N.Y.).
Investigative reports prepared by Alabama Department of Youth Services regarding allegations of physical and sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of detainees by department employees were "work product" written in anticipation of future litigation, and were initially entitled to "work-product" privilege from discovery, but the detainees, in their lawsuit against the department employees, were entitled to a hearing to determine whether they could overcome that privilege by showing a "substantial need" for the reports because they were unable, without "undue hardship" to otherwise obtain the equivalent of the information contained in the reports. Ex Parte Alabama Dept. of Youth Services v. Zeigler, No. 1040649, 927 So. 2d 805 (Ala. 2005). [N/R]
Documents prepared by a member of a county jail mental health services division quality assurance committee were entitled to protection against discovery in a lawsuit brought by survivors of an arrestee who hung himself in the county jail. The committee constituted a "peer review body" covered by a California statutory privilege against discovery of records of such bodies. The fact that the document had been prepared by only one member of the committee did not alter the result. County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court, No. B188909, 42 Cal. Rptr. 3d 390 (Cal. App. 2nd Dist. 2006). [N/R]
In lawsuit claiming that county failed to provide adequate medical care to mentally ill prisoners, a report by a consulting expert retained by the county to evaluate health services and programs at the county's jails was not protected from discovery under the work products doctrine protecting materials prepared in anticipation of litigation. The expert was not asked to investigate any particular claims but rather to help the county develop long range planning and analysis of its health care needs. There was no evidence that the county's outside litigation attorney was involved in or directed the preparation of the report. Mims v. Dallas County, No. 3-04-CV-2754, 230 F.R.D. 479 (N.D. Tex. 2005). [N/R]
Prisoner was entitled to discovery of personnel files and related records of five defendant prison employees he claimed had been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, along with other documents concerning their training and job performance. Any intrusion into their privacy could be addressed by an appropriate protective order by the court. Smith v. Goord, No. Civ.A. 9:03-CV-294, 222 F.R.D. 238 (N.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner was not entitled to sanctions against prison officials and their attorneys for alleged failure to fully respond to his discovery requests when he failed to show that they acted in bad faith, vexatiously or unreasonably. Federal trial court finds that defendants' responses to the prisoner's immediate document requests were adequate. Avent v. Solfaro, No. 02Civ.0914(RCC)(RLE), 223 F.R.D. 184 (S.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
In a lawsuit by a New York prisoner seeking damages for injuries he suffered while operating router equipment in a prison work assignment, the court ruled that the "drastic remedy" of striking the State's answer to the prisoner's complaint was not justified by the State's failure to produce, in discovery, its accident report and the maintenance records for the router, but found that this was sufficient to support an inference that, if these records had been produced, they would have been unfavorable to the State. Gentle v. State of New York, No. 96927, 778 N.Y.S.2d 660 (Ct. Cl. 2004). [N/R]
Employee accident reports, employee interviews, and employee training records were not exempt from disclosure under New York law to prisoner seeking information concerning an incident in which he was allegedly injured by correctional officers, so long as personal data about individual officers was excluded. Disclosure of employee staffing records, however, were exempt, as their disclosure could endanger officers' lives and safety by revealing where they were posted within the correctional facility. Beyah v. Goord, 766 N.Y.S.2d 222 (A.D. Dept. 3 2003). [2004 JB Apr]
Prisoner accused of heroin possession did not show good cause to obtain personnel files of correctional officers who obtained information which tipped them off that he might be selling drugs when there was no factual basis for his claim that they engaged in misconduct which led to the discovery of the drugs. Officers were not personally involved in the search that led to the discovery of the heroin. People v. Collins, 8 Cal. Rptr. 3d 731 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner's allegations that his leg infection and urinary tract infection worsened and became more serious as a result of inadequate medical treatment was sufficient to support a claim against prison officials for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, but trial court acted erroneously by declining to rule on the merits of prison officials' motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity, particularly when plaintiff did not file an affidavit in opposition or show why he needed further discovery to respond. Wallin v. Norman, #02-1634, 317 F.3d 558 (6th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Oct]
Prisoner asserting that prison officials interfered with his access to the courts and retaliated against him for filing lawsuits must identify, in response to interrogatories, what lawsuits he is referring to, when his complaint and its exhibits were "devoid" of such information. Davidson v. Goord, 215 F.R.D. 73 (W.D.N.Y. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner's right to disclosure of exculpatory materials was not violated in a prison disciplinary proceeding against him for attempting to procure drugs when he was not allowed to view a security videotape which showed the alleged transport of the drugs between prisoners' cells. The evidence of the tape was not withheld from the fact-finders, and allowing the inmate access could jeopardize prison security by disclosing the location of the camera, which could result in the avoidance of detection in the future. Herrera v. Davis, No. 02-2186, 54 Fed. Appx. 861 (7th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
In lawsuit alleging that officer at juvenile correctional facility sexually assaulted a male minor prisoner, there was good cause to postpone the deposition of the minor plaintiff for a short time until after his release from custody in order to protect the minor from the possibility of further psychological harm. Williams v. Greenlee, 210 F.R.D. 577 (N.D. Tex. 2002). [N/R]
A plaintiff prisoner's refusal to answer questions at a deposition was not sufficient to justify the "drastic sanction" of dismissal of his claims when the judicial order authorizing the deposition failed to have any language compelling the plaintiff to answer questions under penalty of dismissal, but rather, only a general statement that "noncompliance" could lead to sanctions. Dawes v. Coughlin, 210 F.R.D. 38 (W.D.N.Y. 2002).[N/R]
Trial court properly granted summary judgment without further delay to correctional employees on prisoner's lawsuit alleging that they failed to provide him with a safe environment or adequate medical care when prisoner failed to demonstrate how any additional discovery would lead to the production of evidence that would create a genuine issue of disputed material fact. Prisoner injured himself by stepping into an uncovered manhole on prison grounds and subsequently received treatment including surgery for a spinal injury. Lockaby v. L.L. Young, #02-6033, 42 Fed. Appx. 313 (10th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
In a class action lawsuit by city jail inmates who were diagnosed with mental illness, plaintiffs had the right to obtain the discharge planning records of former inmates already released as part of the discovery. Brad H. v. City of New York, 729 N.Y.S.2d 348 (Sup. 2001). [N/R]
A prisoner's willful refusal to cooperate with the court's orders for the discovery of information was a sufficient basis for the dismissal with prejudice of his lawsuit over allegedly illegal strip searches performed by correctional personnel, but an assessment of attorneys' fees against him would have "no practical effect" as he was "in poverty" and serving a sentence of 25 years to life. Davidson v. Dean, 204 F.R.D. 251 (S.D.N.Y. 2001). [N/R]
The trial court's order denying summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds, and granting the prisoner leave to conduct additional discovery was not immediately appealable when it was based on the court's determination that there were disputed issues of material fact that needed to be resolved. Garrett v. Stratman, #00-1028, 254 F.3d 940 (10th Cir. 2001). [N/R]
County detention facility's "nursing peer review" records were discoverable as relevant to possible municipal liability in lawsuit over the adequacy of medical care of a pretrial detainee who died of peritonitis. Leon v. County of San Diego, No. CIV.00-CV-1292-K, 202 F.R.D. 631 (S.D. Cal. 2001). [N/R]
285:140 County jail officials were entitled to assert attorney-client and work-product privileges to withhold disclosure of documents prepared in anticipation of U.S. Justice Department lawsuit over jail conditions, even in a "closely related" separate lawsuit brought by former inmates seeking money damages; having asserted such privileges, however, they would not be allowed to make use of the documents at trial for any purpose, including using them to establish that their decisions about the jail were made based on legal advice. Winton v. Board of Com'rs of Tulsa County, Ok, 188 F.R.D. 398 (N.D. Ok. 1999).
273:132 Monetary sanctions awarded against plaintiff's lawyer in federal civil rights lawsuit were not immediately appealable; any appeal must wait until the final resolution of the underlying case. Cunningham v. Hamilton Co., Ohio, #98-727, 119 S. Ct. 1915 (1999).
270:91 Officers who prisoner claimed beat him in county jail could not be excluded from each other's depositions in the absence of unusual circumstances; officers had four years previously during which they were able to talk about incident, so barring them from deposition would not serve the purpose of preventing them from comparing notes. Lee v. Denver Sheriff's Department, 181 F.R.D. 651 (D. Colo. 1998).
258:90 Information concerning correctional official's prior arrest for assault was discoverable in former prisoner's excessive force lawsuit against him, despite dismissal of criminal charge. Cox v. McClellan, 174 F.R.D. 32 (W.D.N.Y. 1997).
258:91 Correctional officer sued by former prisoner who claimed he raped her was not entitled to discovery concerning all of her past sexual contacts, but could receive information concerning any prior sexual contacts which were "violent or damaging." Giron v. Corrections Corp. of America, 981 F.Supp. 1406 (D.N.M. 1997).
Medical records showing that plaintiff inmate suffered from a "persecution complex" and was "paranoid schizophrenic" provided sufficient grounds to order a mental examination of inmate who claimed prison officials brought false disciplinary charges against him. Hodges v. Keane, 145 F.R.D. 332 (S.D.N.Y. 1993).
California appeals court holds that state law provides conditional privilege to discovery of officer's home address and other information contained in personnel file. Hackett v. Superior Court, 16 Cal.Rptr.2d 405 (Cal.App. 1993).
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