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Jury Verdict in Inmate Death Case Upheld, Plus Other Civil Rights, Immigration and Criminal Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on May 03, 2010 4:13 PM

In Estrada v. Holder, No. 08-1226, the Seventh Circuit dealt with a petition for review, BIA's affirmance of IJ's refusal to examine a Mexican citizen's challenge to the validity of a 1996 recsission of his lawful-permanent-resident status by the INS.  In granting the petition, the court vacated the rescission order as petitioner's challenge to the sufficiency of the notice he received before the agency rescinded his permanent resident status was reviewable in his removal proceedings.  However, the district court's decision to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is affirmed as petitioner's complaint filed in the district court is equivalent to a challenge to an order of removal within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. section 1252(a)(5), which permits judicial review only via petition for review in the court of appeals. 

Goudy v. Basinger, No.08-3679, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's petition for habeas relief for his murder and attempted murder conviction, claiming that government's failure to disclose three eyewitness statements that implicated  on of its main witnessess, and ineffective assistance of counsel denied him a fair trial.  In reversing the denial, the court held that the Court of Appeals of Indianan unreaonably applied federal law when it determined that prior statements of identification by witnesses the government suppressed did not create a reasonable probability of a different result in the trial.  Furthermore, because the Brady error alone denied defendant a fair trial, the question of whethre he was also denied ineffective assistance of counsel need not be reached.

 Vince v. Rock County, No. 10-1659, involved a plaintiff's civil rights suit, arising from a beating he suffered by inmates at a county jail, claiming that he should not have been housed in the jail's general population as he was a longtime confidential informant for the county law enforcement agencies.  Plaintiff's appeal of the magistrate judge's grant of defendants' motion for summary judgment is timely as counsel's failure to electronically transmit plaintiff's notice of appeal with the proper code was an error of form. 

Thomas v. Cook County, No. 08-2232, involved plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a county, county sheriff, and correctional officers, arising from her son's death of pneumococcal meningitis less than a week later follwing his detention at the county jail.  In affirming the district court's denial of the county's and the officers' motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial, the court held that the jury had sufficient evidence to impose liability against the officers for their deliberate indifference to the detainee's medical needs and evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to conclude that the county had a widespread policy of disregarding detainees' medical requests.  However, judgment denying the sheriff's motion is reversed as there is insufficient evidence to hold the sheriff liable as the causal connection between the sheriff's policies and practices and the death is tenuous in light of the jury's finding that individual correctional officers deliberately disregarded his medical needs. 

With respect to damages, the absence of sheriff's liability does not affect the jury's compensatory damage award as the parties are jointly and severally liable for the entire award and the $4 million-plus damage award is not excessive for the constitutional violations that resulted in plaintiff's son's death.  Lastly, defendants' remaining claims are rejected as none of their evidentiary challenges warrant a reversal. 

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