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Part I Sources of Corrections Law. Chapter 3 - Habeas, Torts, and Section 1983 Introduction: Most correctional litigation is in the civil area Area is.

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Presentation on theme: "Part I Sources of Corrections Law. Chapter 3 - Habeas, Torts, and Section 1983 Introduction: Most correctional litigation is in the civil area Area is."— Presentation transcript:

1 Part I Sources of Corrections Law

2 Chapter 3 - Habeas, Torts, and Section 1983 Introduction: Most correctional litigation is in the civil area Area is often referred to as “prisoners’ rights”

3 Chapter Outline Habeas Corpus Torts Section (§) 1983

4 Habeas Corpus (Latin term for “have the body”) Article 1, § 9, U.S. Constitution specifically provides for this “(T)he writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it”

5 Habeas corpus: cont’d Prisoner files a petition, asking for relief – focus must be legality of imprisonment (or detention) Relief sought is release from confinement Distinguished from complaint Petition is filed by the individual (petitioner) against the entity holding the person in confinement (in the prison, this is the Warden - respondent)

6 Habeas Corpus: cont’d In habeas action, court will order respondent to show cause why a writ of habeas corpus should not issue (why petitioner should not be released) Response by respondent ordinarily due within a short time, such as 10 days

7 Habeas Corpus: cont’d Types of habeas corpus: Habeas corpus ad subjiciendum – intended to review the legality of confinement – this is the most common within corrections Habeas corpus ad prosequendum – orders the custodian to bring the party to court for purposes of prosecution Habeas corpus ad testificandum – orders the custodian to bring the party to court to give evidence in a court case

8 Habeas Corpus: cont’d Habeas action ordinarily is filed in the court where the person is being held Actions treated as an emergency – after all, challenging legality of confinement Following response by respondent, court may dismiss petition, hold a hearing for more information, or grant the writ Habeas actions do not test guilt or innocence of person in custody, nor are damages awarded

9 Habeas Corpus: cont’d Provisions for inmates to seek habeas corpus relief in Title 28, United States Code, sections 2241 and Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) – amended habeas corpus requirements, placing limitations on the use of habeas corpus

10 Habeas Corpus: cont’d AEDPA: Requires exhaustion of state remedies prior to filing Allows federal courts to dismiss application for a writ of habeas corpus, even if no exhaustion, upon finding the writ has no merit Establishes a one-year period of limitation for federal prisoner to file a motion attacking the legality of his sentence

11 Torts A private wrong or injury for which a court will provide a remedy in the form of damages Always involves a violation of some duty owed to the person injured, other than by agreement of the parties (contract)

12 Torts: cont’d Three elements: A legal duty that is owed by the defendant to the plaintiff A breach of that duty Injury (damages) as a proximate cause of the breach of duty

13 Torts: cont’d Two types of torts Intentional torts – person intends to do what the law has said to be wrong Negligent torts – person was careless, failed to exercise the degree of care required by the law in doing the act(s) that are otherwise permissible

14 Torts: cont’d Damages that may be recovered in a civil tort suit – limited to an award of money Compensatory – cover actual monetary loss, such as for medical, personal injury, and lost wages Punitive – to punish the defendant for severely bad conduct – this requires a showing of gross negligence (recklessness) or willful negligence (Example: driving while drunk) Nominal – acknowledgement that tort has been done, but judge or jury believes only a minimal monetary award is appropriate

15 Torts: cont’d In the prison environment, the most common torts involve The negligent loss of someone else’s property Medical malpractice (To a lesser degree) assault and battery

16 Section 1983 Often referred to as constitutional torts Involve injury or harm suffered by a person because of wrongful actions by another Refer to injuries caused by a violation of rights guaranteed by the Constitution

17 Section 1983: cont’d Federal Civil Rights Act of 1871, codified in Title 42, United States Code, section 1983 (42 USC 1983) Since 1960s, most frequently used type of lawsuit in correctional litigation

18 Section 1983: cont’d Lawsuits under this section allege that state official, acting under the color of state law, has deprived prisoner(s) of their constitutional rights State prisoners have brought actions in federal courts, believing them to be more favorably disposed to prisoner claims than state courts

19 Section 1983: cont’d Section 1983 suits allow both damages and injunctive relief Two main types of injunctive relief Restrictive injunctions – defendants are legally ordered to stop what they are doing (an example: stop putting people into an inadequately heated segregation unit) Mandatory injunctions – defendants are required to do certain things (an example: put adequate heat into the segregation unit)

20 Section 1983: cont’d However, prisoner’s claim for damages may not be tried or examined under § 1983 if a judgment for the plaintiff would imply that the conviction or sentence was invalid, unless such conviction or sentence had already been invalidated (Heck v. Humphrey; Edwards v. Balisok) In such instances, habeas corpus would be the appropriate judicial remedy

21 Section 1983: cont’d Under 42 USC § 1983: Person can bring suit if she claims her constitutional rights were violated Suit can be brought against the offending official, not against the state or correctional agency Person sued must be operating under color of state law Section 1983 defendants are always state employees or officials, or persons functioning as if they were working for the state

22 Section 1983: cont’d Section 1983 covers only state officials However, Supreme Court, in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, held federal officials could be sued for violating a person’s constitutional rights

23 Section 1983: cont’d Bivens involved federal narcotics agents, acting under claim of federal authority, entering petitioner’s apartment without a warrant They searched the apartment and arrested petitioner on narcotics charge There was no probable cause Petitioner sued, alleging unlawful arrest, and asking for monetary damages from each of the agents

24 Section 1983: cont’d Lower courts ruled for the government, stating the complaint failed to state a federal cause of action Supreme Court reversed – said that the actions of the federal agents in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s bar against unreasonable search and seizure was a federally protected interest

25 Section 1983: cont’d Bivens allows persons to sue for constitutional civil rights violations against federal officials in the same manner as Congress allows such suits against state officials in Section 1983

26 Section 1983: cont’d A significant aspect of both § 1983 and Bivens A judgment for the inmate may mean the individual official defendant must pay any monetary award from her own financial resources Government may still represent the defendant If the person is held liable, she may receive indemnification from the government These, however, are not automatic occurrences


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