Posts Tagged ‘prisoners’

Prisoners’ first-amendment rights

Protect “a letter to [a] girlfriend [stating] that a prison officer had sex with a cat” but do not protect mailing a prosecutor “a note written on toilet paper” saying “Dear Susan, Please use this to wipe your ass, that argument was a bunch of shit! You[rs] Truly, George Morgan.” (Morgan v. Quarterman (5th Cir. 2009)). W.C., sending us the case, comments, perhaps only semi-facetiously:

(i) He said “very truly yours.” Maybe he was trying to help her. He was at least sincere.

(ii) I wouldn’t mind doing a similar stunt to opposing in a case I have currently. I too would do so from a helpful perspective. Is that so wrong?

“Inmate sues to get vintage truck owned by couple he killed”

Florida death row inmate William Deparvine has a bona fide law degree, which has helped him keep going in his extensive litigation against the survivors of Richard and Karla Van Dusen. Deparvine was found guilty at trial of killing the Van Dusens for their vintage Chevy pickup, which he claims to have bought. [St. Petersburg Times via Obscure Store, whose headline is quoted above]

In the S.F. Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders discusses the large settlement paid by Santa Clara County to the family of Andrew Martinez, who suffered from schizophrenia and became famous as Berkeley’s “Naked Guy” before taking his own life in jail. She quotes me on the terrorizing effect of suing public managers individually and on the way outside direction of public agencies by litigators often (as consent decrees, court orders and legal avoidance layer one atop another) can add up to “management by no one at all.” [Debra Saunders, “A naked million”, San Francisco Chronicle, May 24].

U.K.: Europe court says prisoners have right to use artificial insemination

“Six prisoners in British jails are applying to give sperm to their wives and partners after a landmark European court ruling concluded that their human rights were breached if they were stopped from having children. The inmates, all serving long terms, are basing their applications on claims they will be too old to become fathers once they have finished their sentences.” [The Guardian]

January 12 roundup

  • Airline off the hook: “Couple drops lawsuit claiming United is liable for beating by drunken husband” [ABA Journal, earlier]
  • Why is seemingly every bill that moves through Congress these days given a silly sonorous name? To put opponents on the defensive? Should it do so? [Massie]
  • With police payouts in the lead, Chicago lays out more money in lawsuits than Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Dallas put together (but NYC still #1 by far) [Chicago Reader]
  • Who’s behind the website Bill Childs does some digging [TortsProf]
  • When not busy carrying out a mortgage fraud scheme from behind bars at a federal prison, inmate Montgomery Carl Akers is also a prolific filer of lawsuits, appeals and grievances [Doyle/McClatchy]
  • Alcohol policy expert Philip Cook on Amethyst Initiative (reducing drinking age) [guestblogging at Volokh]
  • Must Los Angeles put career criminals on public payroll as part of “anti-gang” efforts? [Patterico]
  • Some “local food” advocates have their differences with food-poisoning lawyer Bill Marler [BarfBlog, which, yes, is a food-poisoning policy blog]; Marler for his part is not impressed by uninjured Vermont inmates’ “entrails in the chicken” pro se suit [his blog; more from Bill Childs and in comments; update: judge dismisses suit]

Defendants Plead the Doctrine of “Pining for the Fjords” in Complete Bar of All Claims

Ex-jailhouse inmate Thomas Goodrich has filed a pro se federal suit against the Delaware Department of Corrections and the former warden of Young Correctional Institute seeking redress for the death of “Freddy,” a valuable parrot.  In his complaint, Goodrich alleges that he was held for 12 days on a misdemeanor warrant without being allowed to contact anyone to arrange for Freddy’s feeding.  Young seeks damages for the value of the parrot itself, as well as punitive damages against all defendants.  It is unknown whether People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will seek to intervene in the suit, but a PETA representative has expressed strong displeasure over Freddy’s death, suggesting that perhaps jail would be appropriate for officials who allegedly caused the bird’s demise.

While it’s always a good idea to view allegations in lawsuits, particularly pro se suits, with skepticism, Goodrich’s complaint does allege a Kafkaesque ordeal over a minor warrant, in which Goodrich was not allowed to use a telephone, or to contact an attorney, or to contact family members to arrange security of $200.  Finally, Goodrich alleges, he was able to get in touch with the outside world when after 10 days some friendly person gave him a postage stamp.

Unfortunately, by that time Freddy was an ex-parrot.