Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prisoners seek relief from confinement conditions in Northern California

Photo Courtesy of Publik15
On Monday a series of prisoner rights cases had dispositive motions, among them:

In Delgado v. Barnes, a prisoner claimed that two guards were deliberately indifferent to his safety in allowing another prisoner to attack him in violation of 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.  The defendants admitted he did this but claimed it was an accident.  Mr. Delgado offered no evidence to the contrary and Judge Phyllis J. Hamliton granted summary judgment for the guards.

In Soltero v. McGrath, the plaintiffs sole remaining claim at summary judgment was that a prison guard, J. Ruelas, punched him in the back of the head after handcuffing him violating his right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment as protected by the Eighth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.  The guard denied it.  Oddly, the handcuffing incident involved another guard, who would have been present to witness whether Mr. Ruelas punched Mr. Soltero or not.  For some reason, that guard has not weighed in on the controversy.  Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton denied summary judgment for the guard and sent the case to a prison settlement conference.

Johnson v. Martell involved a pro se prisoner's petition for habeas corpus.  Mr. Johnson had been convicted of forcible rape and sentenced to 17 years in prison.  He challenged his conviction on evidence issues at the Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court.  After that failed he filed a federal petition for habeas corpus.  The warden noted, Mr. Johnson failed to file a state habeas petition before pursing his federal petition divesting the federal court of subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case.  Judge Claudia Wilken agreed with the warden and dismissed the petition.

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