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Mentally ill prisoners suit dismissal denied

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A federal judge has denied the Indiana Department of Correction's motion to dismiss a suit brought last year that challenges the DOC's practices and programs regarding mentally ill patients.

U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton denied the DOC's motion July 21 in Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services v. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction, No. 1:08-CV-1317, which was filed in the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, in October 2008.

The suit brought by the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services and filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana alleges violations of the Eighth Amendment, the American with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. IPAS claims that prisoners at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City have infrequent contact with mental health professionals; prisoners at the New Castle Correctional Facility are held in cells with solid doors that require them to yell discussions with mental health professionals; and that mentally ill prisoners at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility are often violently removed from their cells.

The suit requests a preliminary injunction that can eventually be made permanent and all plaintiff costs and attorney fees.

The DOC moved to dismiss the suit under Rule 12(b)(1), arguing IPAS lacks standing to sue on behalf of unidentified individuals and the District Court lacks jurisdiction over an alleged "intramural" dispute between state agencies.

"In fact, this case presents the unusual drama of a state challenging the constitutionality of federal statutes under which the state receives federal funds," wrote Judge Hamilton. "IDOC is challenging whether the federal statutory grant of standing to IPAS - a key condition of federal funding in Indiana - violates Article III of the United States Constitution."

The judge ruled it didn't because IPAS satisfied the constitutional criteria under the Hunt test. The agency also isn't required to identify any specific individuals whose rights actually have been violated. The DOC didn't show in any provision in the Protection and Advocacy of Mentally Ill Individuals Act (PAIMI) or the Indiana statutes creating IPAS that could reasonably be read to require it name specific individuals in bringing a suit to redress violations of the rights of individuals with mental illness.

Judge Hamilton also rejected the DOC's argument that the case must be dismissed because it's an "intramural" dispute between two state agencies. IPAS isn't a traditional state agency; it's independent of the governor and is funded by the federal government under PAIMI.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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