Just part of the BILLIONS of your tax dollars wasted each year nationally due to entirely preventable prison abuse!
Excerpts from the Article:
“In the last 10 years, Minnesota counties have paid out more than $10 million in settlements and legal fees following lawsuits accusing jails of providing inadequate to non-existent health care to inmates,” KARE 11 reported in a major investigative report on October 29, 2020.
One of the major cases discussed in the story was of Todd County settling with the family of Brett Huber, Jr. for a total of $1.8 million in December 2018 after Huber, Jr. hanged himself in the county jail in June of the prior year. Brett, Jr. had a history of drug abuse and mental health issues that the suit claimed the jail failed to treat.
Brett Huber Sr. said his son was a gifted child growing up in Spearfish, South Dakota. He breezed through school with a straight A average, volunteered his services to nonprofit organizations and was active in the church. He was tall, muscular and athletic. A varsity wrestler and a certified master scuba diver. Brett, Jr. had one serious problem: an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Brett, Jr. had a job working at the state Senate. His father believed he turned to drugs as a way to fit in. He was battling with his addiction in March 2017 when he left his job at the Senate with the intent of committing himself to rehab.
Before he made it to the treatment center, Brett, Jr. went on a last bender. A police report said that Brett, Jr. showed up at an Alexandria hospital high on drugs. Before the hospital was able to get him to detox, Brett, Jr. ran out and stole a car, driving it into a pond. He then stole a second car, which he crashed on I-94. Social media video ultimately showed Brett, Jr. on top of a semi with his shirt off, howling at traffic.
Police arrested Brett, Jr. and took him to the Todd County jail. Brett, Jr. spent several weeks in the jail showing signs of instability and possible suicide before he was finally taken to CentraCare Health Clinic where he was diagnosed with a “severe episode of recurrent major depressive disorder, with psychotic features.” He was placed on antipsychotic medication and referred for a full mental evaluation.
Brett, Sr. said he visited his son regularly. Some days he appeared sane and rational and other times he seemed wild-eyed and cried through the entire visit. Concerned for his son’s health, Brett, Sr. stayed in constant contact with jail administrator Scott Wright. Wright continued to assure Brett, Sr. that his son was okay and well cared for. It was not until after Brett, Jr.’s death that the Huber family found out that Brett, Jr. was disorderly, attempted suicide on several occasions and suffered episodes of hallucinations and paranoia.
A records request as part of the lawsuit’s discovery process filed by the family’s attorney, Andy Noel, revealed Brett, Jr.’s battle with his mental health while at the county jail. It also revealed the jail’s history of problems dealing with detainees with mental health issues. The state had been previously cited for falsifying logs, failing to conduct regular well-being checks, understaffing and inadequate suicide prevention training.
The Hubers found that the security logs were falsified three times on the day Brett, Jr. hung himself, including one at the time when Brett, Jr. was already successful in strangulating himself. “I was led to believe he was in a good facility, that he was being monitored, that they were doing their job, that he wasn’t having any issues, and that the court evaluation would begin soon,” said Brett, Sr. He had the ability to make his son’s bond, but thought it best to leave Brett, Jr. in the county jail, believing it was the safest thing for his son until he could receive the treatment he needed.
Brett, Jr. is not the only person to receive inadequate care while in custody in Minnesota. Fifteen lawsuits have been filed against county jails and prisons around the state since 2015. The state’s suicide rate accounts for 60% of the deaths in custody annually, twice the national average. “It tells me, as a whole, we need to do a whole lot better at assessing suicidal ideation and risk, and then aggressively taking action to make sure we are providing the level of care and oversight and intervention necessary to prevent suicidal actions,” said Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell. (See: Huber, Sr. v. Todd County, Case No. 0:18-cv-02317, U.S.D.C. (D. Minn.).
Good job, Governor Carney. The only bad apple in the group is Carl Danberg, who is a lazy, legal idiot!
Excerpts from the Article:
Gov. John Carney announced a new group of judicial nominations Friday, potentially including the first woman to serve as chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery.
Kathaleen McCormick, the current vice chancellor, was nominated to replace Chancellor Andre Bouchard, who plans to retire, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“Vice Chancellor McCormick has the experience and good judgment necessary to serve as the next Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery and make sure Delaware’s preeminent business court is well prepared for the future,” Gov. Carney said in the press release.
He also nominated Wilmington lawyer Lori Will of the firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati to replace Ms. McCormick as vice chancellor.
The governor nominated six other candidates to judicial posts.
Sen. Darius Brown, D-Wilmington, commended the governor’s picks. “The judicial nominations put forward today by Gov. John Carney will bring much needed racial and gender diversity to the Delaware judiciary,” he said.
The governor also nominated Reneta Green-Streett, a personal-injury and workers’ compensation lawyer, to be the Superior Court judge in Kent County.
Sen. Brown said Ms. Green-Streett “is the fourth Black woman nominated to the bench by Gov. Carney in less than three years. If confirmed, she would become the first Black woman to serve as a Superior Court judge in Kent County.”
The governor nominated Judge Jeffrey Clark to be the resident judge of Superior Court in Kent County, as well. If confirmed, he will replace Judge William Witham, who plans to retire. Judge Clark has served Superior Court since 2015.
Judge Carl Danberg was nominated as chief judge of the Court of Common Pleas to replace Chief Judge Alex Smalls, who is retiring. Judge Danberg was nominated to serve on the Court of Common Pleas in 2013, then confirmed by the Delaware Senate.
Gov. Carney also announced his nomination of Commissioner Katharine Mayer as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas. She has served as a Superior Court commissioner since 2016.
Emily Ferrell, a justice of the peace court magistrate, was nominated to serve as commissioner on the Court of Common Pleas. Ms. Ferrell has served as a justice of the peace since 2015.
Judge Anne Hartnett was also nominated for reappointment to the Court of Common Pleas in Kent County, where she has served since 2009.
“Together, these appointments demonstrate Gov. Carney’s commitment to ensuring Delaware’s judiciary is reflective of its people and their values. He deserves tremendous credit for this historic progress, and I look forward to confirming these eight highly qualified and well-vetted nominees later this month,” Sen. Brown said.
“These are all committed public servants who will serve Delawareans well, and I’m proud to submit their nominations to the Delaware Senate for consideration,” Gov. Carney said. “I look forward to the Senate considering these nominees.”
I predict that whichever judge gets this case will promptly dismiss it as “without merit”! Ms. Murray has filed ludicrous lawsuits before.
Excerpts from the Article:
Gun rights advocates have filed a federal lawsuit challenging continued virtual meetings of the Delaware General Assembly after Democrats rammed two controversial gun-control bills through the state Senate.
The lawsuit was filed Friday against Democrat and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. It comes amid partisan bickering over the Democrat-controlled legislature continuing to meet online rather than in person. The decision by Senate Democrats to fast-track passage of the gun control bills last week served only to fan the flames.
Republicans are particularly upset about a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that drew more than 800 online attendees. Only about 30 or 40 people were allowed to speak on the gun bills during the two-hour hearing, and they were limited to one minute. Many of them were cut off in mid-sentence after 60 seconds.
The plaintiffs say they have been “aggrieved” by being denied the opportunity to speak against the bills or, in the case of Mitch Denham, president of a group called Delaware Gun Rights, being allowed only one minute to speak.
One of the bills outlaws magazines capable of holding more than 17 rounds. The other requires anyone wanting to buy a handgun to first take a training course, be fingerprinted and obtain a permit from the state. The bills are currently awaiting action in the state House.
“For two key pieces of legislation that substantially infringe on Delawareans right to bear arms to be assigned to committee, ‘debated’ and voted on by the Senate in less than one week is an affront to the U.S. Constitution and the Delaware Constitution,” the lawsuit states.
“Due to the virtual format, the General Assembly is able to be keyboard warriors and silence opposition with the click of a mouse,” it adds. “This is chilling.”
The complaint also alleges that Democrat leaders are using COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid having to face their constituents in person.
The plaintiffs contend that lawmakers are violating provisions of the state and federal constitutions regarding peaceful assembly and due process, as well as a constitutional requirement that the General Assembly “meet and sit in Dover.” They are seeking a restraining order to prohibit lawmakers from continuing to conduct the legislative session virtually. They also want the court to declare that the gun control bills – and all bills passed by the House and Senate in the current legislative session – are “null and void because of the serious constitutional violations.”
The lawsuit was filed by Julianne Murray, a Sussex County attorney and last year’s Republican nominee for governor. Before entering the governor’s race, Murray sued incumbent Democrat John Carney over a ban on short-term rentals he imposed because of the coronavirus. The ban, which was later lifted, temporarily prevented Murray and her husband from renting out their beach condominium.
Senate Democrats responded that they would not be “bullied” into delaying legislation supported by Delawareans of both parties. They also said the committee meeting on the gun control bills may have been the most well-attended committee meeting in the history of the General Assembly.
“More than 800 people were able to attend that meeting – four times the fire code occupancy limit of the largest room in Legislative Hall,” they noted.
Victim Compensation and Restorative Justice as Alternatives to Sentencing Enhancements for Hate Crimes
We should use restorative justice practices much more in our criminal justice system.
Excerpts from the Article:
During the decades dominated by the tough-on-crime movement, 48 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government all adopted “hate-crimes” legislation. These statutes called for sentencing enhancements requiring longer periods of punitive incarceration for crimes motivated by a perpetrator’s bias toward a protected group based upon race, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.
The goal of these enhancements was to express society’s unique condemnation for crimes of bias due to the impact of those crimes not only on the direct victim but also the impact upon all members who identify with that particular group.
But in a recent change of national dialogue toward restricting the scope and punitive approach of America’s criminal justice system, the effectiveness of these statutes is being questioned. The glaring flaw of these statutes is the fact that they have helped create a carceral system that disproportionately punishes people from those groups that the hate-crimes legislation was meant to protect.
Professors Sinnar and Colgan suggest that instead of sentencing enhancements, the shift should be toward compensation for victims and practices of restorative justice. But for these to work as viable alternatives, reforms are needed. For example, most victim compensation statutes unnecessarily preclude coverage of harm done to property. Consequently, when buildings of worship are destroyed because of the perpetrator’s bias toward people of that religion, the victims are not compensated.
Also, most victim compensation statutes too narrowly define “victim.” In 2017, three young Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina were murdered. Dr. Suzanne Barakat — the sister of one of the victims — testified to the “horrific trauma that [would] continue to forever haunt” her family. But North Carolina’s statute permits only the dependents of the deceased victims to be compensated.
Restorative justice includes “a set of ideas and practices” that “has emerged as a leading alternative to the existing criminal legal system.” It encompasses “apologies, restitution, and acknowledgements of harm and injury, as well as … other efforts to provide healing and reintegration of offenders into their communities, with or without additional punishment.”
In the context of hate crimes, it is argued that the guided process of offenders meeting with victims helps to determine the necessary reparative steps, validates the survivors’ pain, gives the survivors an opportunity to be heard, and restores the survivors’ sense of control and safety. As to the offenders, it replaces conventional punishment with a more meaningful form of accountability and appreciation of the harm they inflicted, forcing them to face the consequences of their actions and take steps to repair the harm.
A restorative proceeding would also permit survivors to request forms of reparation not otherwise available from the traditional punitive approach, e.g., survivors could request an apology; they could request an admission that the crime was motivated by bias against a particular group; and they could request a promise from the offender that such crimes would never be repeated.
However, restorative justice is viable only when particular limitations are recognized. For example, there is a societal expectation that certain victims forgive perpetrators rather than demand punishment. (Many commentators argued that society “improperly expected” a Black man to embrace the White Dallas police officer who was convicted of murdering his brother.) There is also the risk that offenders may revictimize survivors, offer insincere apologies, or blame the victim.
But each of these concerns can be addressed by a thorough vetting of all parties before any meeting between offenders and survivors occurs. Restorative justice proceedings could be an “option,” meaning that they occur only if the victim or survivors agree, in lieu of more traditional punitive sanctions. And if offenders are unrepentant or avowed members of a particular hate group, then they would, of course, be ineligible.
Professors Sinnar and Colgan conclude that victim compensation and restorative justice may benefit some victims of hate crimes and affected communities; subject offenders to a more meaningful form of accountability; and preserve the message of society’s unique condemnation of hate crimes without linking that message to additional time in prison. But questions remain as to whether these alternatives can sufficiently mitigate concerns where the offenders are unrepentant or from a dominant group that victimizes those of a subordinate group. The professors suggest further experimentation and study.
LOCAL NEWS Racial bias detected in housing, punishment at King County jail, audit finds An audit found Black inmates received 23% more infractions than white offenders in King County corrections from 2017 to 2019.
The same racial bias is rampant nationwide. Racism permeates every aspect of our criminal justice system.
Excerpts from the Article:
An audit of King County corrections found racial bias evident in housing and discipline and made recommendations to decrease disparities.
The audit, which was presented Tuesday to the King County Council Law and Justice Committee, examined data and incidents from 2017 to 2019 at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle and Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
Black people in custody were overrepresented in higher security housing and were more likely than white people to be infracted for violent incidents, according to the audit.
Although Black people make up 36% of the jail’s population, auditors found they made up half of the two highest security levels at the jails.
Black inmates also received 23% more infractions than other people, and the punishment was more severe. The audit found Black women were punished with 70% more days in restrictive housing compared to other women; Black men received 24% longer punishments. Indigenous women also faced harsher punishment, spending 18% more days in restrictive housing compared to other women.
The audit also examined violent incidents. Between 2017 and 2019, investigators found the rate of violent incidents was nearly three times higher and the rate of incidents targeting staff was nearly four times higher at the Seattle jail than in Kent.
However, the report found social distancing was key in reducing incidents last year. When the pandemic hit, the adult King County jail population decreased from about 2,000 inmates to 1,300, and the Seattle jail stopped double-bunking inmates. Although the inmate population dropped 47%, fights and assaults plummeted 63%, according to the audit.
Though auditors found pepper spray was sometimes misused by staff, excessive use of force among officers was “rarely found” with four cases of excessive and unnecessary force documented over the audit’s three-year period.
The audit made 25 recommendations, including several to reduce bias. Those recommendations include making changes to the sanctions process and revising its management risk scoring rubric to reduce bias as well as monitoring the racial makeup of incident data to detect disparities.
Like so many things, this can be good or bad. It depends on who is using it and for what purpose.
Excerpts from the Article:
A little-known tech company in Texas has dramatically altered the landscape of digital police surveillance. Hawk Analytics, headquartered in Bartonville, Texas, has developed software that streamlines the process police use to turn the huge quantities of information they obtain from cellular companies into intelligence while simultaneously gathering data on hundreds or even thousands of uninvolved private citizens, according to a report by The Intercept.
In the past, police had to engage in a painstaking process to track movements via cellphone records. Unlike how it’s depicted on television and movies, this process involved hand-drawn plots on maps as analysts sifted through reams of data. The Hawk Analytics product CellHawk can, on the other hand, “process a year’s worth of cellphone records in 20 minutes,” The Intercept reports.
Police routinely receive massive datasets from cellular carriers through a variety of request types. The two most common are “geozone” requests, which gather complete records of cellular activity within a specified radius of a particular geographical location, and “tower dumps,” which is the record of all activity on a particular cellular tower. These datasets usually come in the form of vast spreadsheets, and they rarely require a warrant. A single tower dump can include 150,000+ phone numbers.
The CellHawk software, according to company brochures, can analyze the vast trove of data in search of particular patterns or contacts of interest to police.
The “unique animation analysis tool” can then plot particular phone calls and locations over time, essentially creating a map of where the phone was and who it contacted. Once CellHawk is locked onto a phone, it can track it, relaying information about when a phone moves from a particular location. As the brochure puts it, CellHawk can help “find out where your suspect sleeps at night.”
The capacity of this technology to invade the privacy, not to mention First Amendment rights, of the public is immediately evident. When, for example, protests erupted in Minneapolis after the killing of an unarmed Black man in neighboring Wisconsin, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, where Minneapolis is located, used phone data from several protesters who were arrested to create a virtual map of the network of activists responsible for the protest, even though these activists were not accused, or even suspected, of a crime. Hawk Analytics touts this network analysis capacity as a primary feature of its software, and when the Hennepin Sheriff’s Office was asked whether products like CellHawk undermine the presumption of innocence, spokesperson Andrew Skoogman dismissively replied, “This is the investigative process.”
CellHawk can be used to analyze ride hailing and GPS usage in addition to general cellphone use, and while it offers a significant advance in surveillance technology, products from companies like the Twitter affiliate Dataminr and the already commonly available array of surveillance technology from license plate readers to drone surveillance were already vastly expanding the reach of police.
There is no evidence the police have been slow to utilize that reach to the fullest possible extent. Verizon, for example, received more than 260,000 subpoenas, warrants, and emergency requests for cellular data in 2019, including 24,000 for locating particular phones. Some places, like Minnesota, can retain this type of information, building maps with products like CellHawk, for years.
Hawk Analytics has dozens of police clients across the country, including the FBI. Courts have thus far been divided on the legal contours of the new datamining tools in the hands of police. Julia Decker, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Minnesota, observed, “I think this highlights how the rapid development of surveillance tech outstrips existing laws … In this moment of talking about police reform, use of surveillance tech needs to be part of the discussion.”
This program or policy should be in EVERY major city!
Excerpts from the Article
USA Today reports that Denver, Colorado, is showing success with a new program that directs emergency 911 calls that deal with mental health issues, drug abuse, and homelessness to a two-person civilian team composed of a medic and clinician called the Support Team Assistance Response (“STAR”) pilot program.
Originally managed by the city’s safety department but since transferred to its public health department, STAR is the product of a group of members from the police department, health department, Denver 911, the Caring for Denver Foundation, Mental Health Center of Denver, and the Denver Alliance for Street Health Response (“DASHR”), which traveled to Eugene, Oregon, to examine that city’s Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (“CAHOOTS”) initiative. Eugene’s program was launched in 1989 to respond to a range of mental health issues as a technique of reducing the harm that had resulted from police encounters with the same. As of 2017, CAHOOTS responders answered 17% of the total volume of police calls, eliminating any possibility of police violence in any of those responses.
Denver coordinated with several other Colorado cities to draft a new type of crisis response unit, one that might not end in the unfortunate death of someone suffering a mental health breakdown such as happened with 23-year-old Elijah McClain of Aurora, Colorado. The city launched the pilot program in June with a one two-man team staffed in a van roaming the streets from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Washington Post reported that police fatally shoot hundreds of people experiencing mental health crises every year, nearly 1,400 since 2015. In the first six months of STAR in Denver, the ‘‘person-centric mobile crisis response’’ unit answered 748 of the 2,500 emergency calls that came their way. Not one response resulted in any abuse or arrest. Most of the calls were for the homeless (68%) and mental health issues (61%). Correspondingly, police answered 95,000 calls during the same timeframe. Fully operational, STAR could potentially take 3% or more of the police department’s total case load.
This year, the city has allocated $1.4 million to the program, enough to purchase four more vans, six two-man teams, and a full-time supervisor to expand the program’s response. “Overall, the first six months has kind of been a proof of concept of what we wanted,” stated Vinnie Cervantes, a founder of DASHR. “We’ve continued to try to work to make it something that is truly a community-city partnership.”
Denver follows several other cities developing similar programs as people call for defunding police due to the number of recent fatal shootings of people experiencing mental health issues nationwide. Los Angeles and San Antonio partnered police and mental health professionals as “co-responders” to answer mental health incidents. Chicago, Illinois, and Louisville, Kentucky are expected to follow suit this year. Aurora launches its STAR program this month.
Letter to the Editor or Op Ed Submission -Expand the Court NOW – 4/8/21
The United States Supreme Court has been notoriously understaffed for decades. In fact, the Court accepts 100-150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review each year. With a couple of arcane exceptions, like treaty disputes, it is entirely within the justices’ discretion which cases to take.
Right now, your chances are about 1 in 70. Let’s improve those odds by expanding the Court to 11 members. Now is the time to do this, while President Biden has an opportunity to appoint some really smart justices.
Frankly, some recent appointments have been relative mental midgets; let’s face it: Brett Kavanaugh is no Holmes, Cardozo, or Brandeis!
Urge your elected officials to call for expanding our Supreme Court!
Ken Abraham, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, former Deputy Attorney General, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
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READ this article and do what it says; with easy to follow instructions. Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform – http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-create-a-powerful-effective-force-for-reform-of-our-criminal-justice-system/
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Unfortunately, this was inevitable. Because the guards who beat inmates, then denied them medical care, and otherwise abused them, wore their “goon squad” uniforms – full facial coverage – and wore no badges or names, it was impossible to prove who did what to whom. Damn shame.
Here again we see that DOC officials cannot be believed: Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis, who took over the department in the summer of 2019, and other defendants denied the allegations in court. DeMatteis has said that no abuse occurred following the uprising. … Bullshit; If they had not intended to commit crimes and other abuses, why did the guards conceal their identity and prevent the filming of their conduct?
Excerpts from the Article:
Since the 2017 fatal riot inside a building at Delaware’s largest prison, dozens of inmates that were in that building have said in court, lawsuits, interviews and letters that they were assaulted and deprived of basic rights in the hours and months after by corrections officials.
And since then, those claims have been the thrust of lawsuits meandering slowly through local courts. Those challenges seek recompense for injuries suffered by prisoners that said they too were hostages when control of James T. Vaughn Correctional Center’s C Building was violently overthrown by a smaller set of prisoners.
Last week, a federal judge in Wilmington dismissed the largest lawsuit making such claims, a complaint that sought damages on behalf of 107 inmates against 52 defendants, including at times Gov. John Carney, top Department of Correction leadership and a host of officers.
That lawsuit largely focused on what happened after a team of inmates used coordinated violence to take the building’s three officers and a counselor hostage, kill one of those officers and hold the building for 18 hours starting on Feb. 1, 2017.
The lawsuit claims that officers retaking the building wore black masks, hid their name tags and went cell to cell, delivering indiscriminate kicks, punches and racial slurs to inmates while encountering no resistance from those still in the building.
It claims the police deliberately decided not to record the retaking of the building and denied the inmates substantive medical care immediately afterward. Then, in the months following, it claims corrections officials sanctioned “systemic torture” of C Building inmates.
Inmates who were taken from Vaughn’s C Building when the uprising was quashed were cycled into the building’s yard where investigators photographed puddles of blood, which inmates said was the result of indiscriminate beatings by officers.
That alleged torture included physical violence, mental abuse and denial of basic rights.
The veracity of these allegations was not tested before the court dismissed the lawsuit last week. Attorneys also did not reach the stage where they could compel evidence from the Department of Correction about the claims. Instead, the litigation failed for a lack of specificity.
In dismissing it, Delaware District Court Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark referred to the complaint as a “shotgun pleading,” leaving the reader “unaware of who exactly is being accused of what conduct.”
Attorneys for the defendants said the complaint’s lack of specificity left them unable to prepare a defense. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that was difficult because of officers’ effort to conceal their identities.
Acknowledging that, the judge said the complaint didn’t meet the required standard of clearly setting out which plaintiffs suffered which specific act of misconduct. Having afforded the plaintiffs multiple chances to address these problems in recent years, Stark dismissed the complaint and shut the door for it to be amended.
DIGITAL WALKTHROUGH:See how the Vaughn riot unfolded
“Despite the preference of the courts to adjudicate claims on their merits – and, hopefully, reach the truth of what happened, redress proven wrongs, and do justice – the court cannot do so when plaintiffs fail to do what is required to give defendants notice and begin to press their case,” Stark wrote.
Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis, who took over the department in the summer of 2019, and other defendants denied the allegations in court. DeMatteis has said that no abuse occurred following the uprising.
“The Department of Correction has consistently argued that this frivolous litigation was without merit and must be dismissed,” wrote Jason Miller, a spokesman for DeMatteis. “We are pleased the court has done so.”
Stephen Hampton, the Dover attorney that filed the lawsuit, said he thinks the Department of Correction has sufficient information about the allegations to move forward and defend the case and feels that Stark is holding the plaintiffs to too high a standard in not allowing the lawsuit to continue. He said he will appeal the decision to federal appeals court.
While that lawsuit was the most sprawling, others tied to the takeover and alleged abuses afterward continue to churn through the courts.
Donald Parkell, an inmate who was in C Building that day, began litigating against the department two weeks after the riot. His initial handwritten complaint was an early account of what happened during the takeover and alleged abuses in the immediate aftermath.
It was also one of the first retellings of how a group of inmates, including Parkell and Terek Downing, banded together to protect prison counselor Patricia May, who was held hostage that day.
DOWNING: He protected a woman hostage on Delaware prison’s ‘darkest day’; now he seeks mercy. The complaint is now in its fifth iteration, and the court has appointed counsel to represent Parkell.
In addition to claims about a lack of medical care following the uprising, it claims the takeover was the foreseeable outcome to state and Department of Correction leaders that understaffed the building, knowingly mixed dangerous inmates and ignored glaring warning signs in the weeks and months preceding the riot.
Officials’ intent in creating such problems was to undermine a legal settlement that changed the way the Department of Correction operated, specifically as it related to how those with mental illness are confined, the lawsuit claims.
IN DEPTH: Never-released report shows prison officer’s death should not have happened
State officials have denied the claims in court, and the lawsuit has not yet reached the phase that would potentially allow Parkell’s attorneys to demand documents and depose current and former state leaders. There are also pending lawsuits still churning filed on behalf of the men accused by police of taking over the building.
Police originally indicted 16 on charges of murder in the death of correctional officer Steven Floyd, who was killed during the hostage standoff. Two others were indicted on lesser crimes.
Dwayne Staats, who admitted his role in the takeover, was convicted of murder. Another who admitted some hand in the plot was convicted of several charges, but not murder. One inmate charged with lesser crimes took a plea and cooperated with investigators.
The rest were either acquitted by juries or had their charges dropped before trial.
C tier of C Building
Most of them are now being held in Pennsylvania’s prisons, where some say they are being treated as if they had been found guilty.
Jonatan Rodriguez, a former C Building inmate whose murder charges were dropped, sued last year, claiming that after he was indicted in 2017, officers and officials at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown intentionally instituted a “regimen of intimidation, torture and abuse,” which included threats, slurs and denial of rights.
He also claims he was assaulted by officers who afterward carried out a coverup by falsifying reports. Officials have denied the allegations in court filings.
A separate complaint filed by Staats, the one inmate who admitted to orchestrating the takeover as a protest of prison conditions, sought to represent several others formerly charged with Floyd’s murder. It makes claims of abuse before and after the uprising.
SENTENCING: How do you punish someone already serving life?
A 2019 court order stated that the defendants had to file lawsuits individually. Since then, officials have moved to dismiss Staats’ lawsuit, which has largely been on hold due to the pandemic.
Underpinning these continued legal challenges is the fact the state has already paid $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by state employee victims of the takeover, who argued correction officials failed to act on warning signs ahead of the riot.
One area where the racism of many Republicans came to the surface is judicial appointments. Thank God that is changing!
Excerpts from the Article:
President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated a racially diverse and overwhelmingly female group to federal and other judgeships, including three Black women for the U.S. courts of appeals, one pathway to the Supreme Court.
Biden promised as a candidate to nominate an African American woman to serve on the nation’s highest court should a seat open up during his term.
With the announcement of his first slate of judicial nominees, Biden signaled his intent to counter his predecessor’s reliance on white men to fill openings on the federal bench, and to appoint judges who bring a broader range of background and life experience to the role.
Several of Biden’s nominees served as public defenders. One is a former military prosecutor. Nine of the 11 are women. The slate also includes a nominee for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Biden’s group includes candidates who, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate for lifetime federal appointments, would be the first Muslim federal judge in U.S. history, the first Asian American Pacific Islander woman to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the first woman of color to serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland.
Three of the picks are Black women whom Biden wants for the federal courts of appeals, often a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. The most prominent of the trio is U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, whom Biden is nominating to the seat left vacant on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by Judge Merrick Garland’s departure to become Attorney General.
The two other Black women Biden wants for the appellate circuit are Tiffany Cunningham, 44, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, based in Washington, and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, 41, for the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both are in private practice.
The D.C. Circuit, in particular, is a place where presidents have searched for Supreme Court justices. Three of the high court’s current nine members have served on the D.C. Circuit.
Some liberal Democrats have urged Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who is 82, to retire to allow Biden to choose a possible replacement. Jackson, 50, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and previously served as a law clerk to Breyer.
Other Black women who would be front-runners if a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court were to open are California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger and U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs. Childs is a favorite of Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who made a crucial endorsement of Biden just before the state’s presidential primary last year.
Some of Biden’s candidates had been tapped for judgeships by Democratic President Barack Obama, but Republicans never allowed the full Senate to vote on them.
“This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession,” Biden, a former Senate Judiciary Committee chair, said in a statement. “Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong.”
The White House said Biden’s choices reflect his strong belief that the federal courts should reflect the “full diversity of the American people.”
Administration officials emphasized the speed with which Biden announced his first batch of nominees, stressing that the president was out of the gate with names faster than his immediate predecessors. There is good reason for Biden to move quickly on this front.
There currently are 72 judicial openings. The Senate, which must confirm the nominees, is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris called on to break some tie votes. Biden would need the Democratic caucus to stick together in support of his candidates if Republicans unite in opposition, though the administration hopes to attract GOP support for some, if not all, of the nominees.
There is no guarantee that Democrats will hold the majority after the 2022 midterm elections, meaning the White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will have to be aggressive about pushing nominees through confirmation in much the same way that Trump and former Senate leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did to get the former president’s nominees confirmed.
Schumer and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the Senate will work quickly to hold hearings and confirm Biden’s picks.
“America is so much better when our rich diversity is reflected in every aspect of society, especially our justice system,” Schumer said.
Trump leaned heavily on white men to fill judicial vacancies. An Associated Press analysis found that over 86% of the more than 200 federal judges confirmed under Trump were white, the highest rate of white judicial appointments since George H.W. Bush’s presidency.
Two-thirds of Trump’s judicial appointees were white men; less than a quarter were women.
Overall, about a third of active federal judges are women, and Biden’s nomination of three Black women to federal courts of appeals is particularly significant. Currently, of the approximately 170 active judges on federal courts of appeals, only four are African American women, and all are 68 or older, according to a Federal Judicial Center database.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the organization was “gratified” that Biden is acting to diversify the federal bench.
“Such diversity will greatly enhance the judiciary and judicial decision-making,” Ifill said in a statement.