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Judgment for prison employees affirmed

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of prison employees in an inmate's Eighth Amendment violations suit, finding the inmate's lack of cooperation in providing details of threats against him prohibited the officials from protecting him from an attack by another inmate.

In Curtis L. Dale v. Pamela Poston, et al., No. 06-2847, Curtis Dale appealed summary judgment in favor of the defendants, several prison employees in Terre Haute, arguing they didn't reasonably respond when he requested a transfer out of the Terre Haute maximum security prison to a medium security prison in Illinois.

Dale was in prison on drug convictions and as a part of his plea agreement, he was to provide testimony against people involved in the drug trade. Several inmates began to suspect he was testifying and was a "snitch" because he would leave the prison for periods of time. When he would return from testifying he would be held in a Special Housing Unit (SHU) until prison employees could determine if there were any potential dangers against him because of his testimony.

Dale requested a transfer to the Illinois prison, but was denied because he didn't provide detailed information about who was threatening him or how he was being threatened. When questioned, he was vague and illusive, and refused housing in the SHU, but believed just reporting the threat was enough to have him transferred. Dale was later attacked by a fellow inmate who accused him of being a snitch.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had to use the facts from the government in this case instead of facts from Dale because the District Court found Dale's "statement of facts" violated the court's local rule. Dale's own attorney admitted that even if the District Court erred in disregarding Dale's statement of facts, any error was harmless, wrote Judge Terence Evans.

Dale's Eighth Amendment violation claims against the prison employees fail the deliberate indifference test. Even though Dale's claim passes the first prong - knowing there is a risk - it failed the second prong - actual knowledge of impending harm. The prison employees questioned Dale about his statements alluding to threats from other inmates, but he refused to offer details and refused to be housed in the SHU, wrote Judge Evans. In fact, the prison employees did almost the exact opposite of deliberate indifference and they couldn't have segregated Dale against his will.

"We will not create this sort of constitutional Catch 22 - where prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment if they don't segregate a prisoner but violate the Due Process Clause if they do," he wrote.

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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