University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Miller v. Grubbe PC-WY-0005
Docket / Court 2:09-cv-00040-ABJ ( D. Wyo. )
State/Territory Wyoming
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On February 24, 2009, the plaintiff, a prisoner at the Wyoming State Penitentiary (WSP) filed a class action lawsuit in the United States Court for the District of Wyoming under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the WSP, alleging violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights. Specifically, the ... read more >
On February 24, 2009, the plaintiff, a prisoner at the Wyoming State Penitentiary (WSP) filed a class action lawsuit in the United States Court for the District of Wyoming under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the WSP, alleging violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that he was singled out for filing a complaint against a corrections officer, and denied due process by the WSP warden, who did not allow him to present evidence in his favor during his disciplinary hearing. The plaintiff was represented by the Wyoming ALCU, and sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

On October 28, 2008, approximately 25 prisoners at WSP witnessed an altercation between a guard and a prisoner. The plaintiff claimed to see one of the guards intentionally and unnecessarily kick the prisoner in the head while he was shackled and held beneath several additional guards. When the plaintiff indicated to the officers that he intended to file a complaint against their conduct, he was threatened with a disciplinary action. When the officer did file a grievance against the officer, he was sanctioned. Thereafter, he was not allowed by the officer reviewing his disciplinary sanction to call witnesses who had overheard the threatened action, or others who had witnessed the guards kick the prisoner in the head.

The plaintiff alleged that the Warden summarily denied his appeal of the disciplinary sanction because he did not present any evidence (which he was not allowed to do by the reviewing officer). The plaintiff was put into solitary confinement for two months as a result.

The plaintiff filed suit alleging violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The plaintiff challenged the disciplinary procedures and the specific policy of overly redacting documents provided to prisoners that were non-confidential.

On July 30, 2009, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the suit. He was no longer a prisoner at WSP, and was living at home with his ailing mother as her full-time caregiver in a bordering state. According to the stipulation of dismissal, he could not attend the depositions and maintain the action along with his caregiving responsibilities. The Court (Judge Alan B. Johnson) dismissed the case without ruling on class certification on the same day.

The case was not closed, and it was not dismissed with prejudice. However, because the plaintiff may have lost standing to restart the action, this case is likely over.

Blase Kearney - 07/03/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by staff
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Grievance Procedures
Loss or damage to property
Pepper/OC spray
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Wyoming
Plaintiff Description A prisoner at Wyoming State Penitentiary.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
2:09−cv−0004 (D. Wyo.) 07/30/2009
PC-WY-0005-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 02/24/2009
PC-WY-0005-0001 PDF | External Link | Detail
Document Source: ACLU National Prison Project
Stipulation Allowing Plaintiff's Voluntary Dismissal of this Case 07/30/2009
PC-WY-0005-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Beaman, William C. (D. Wyo.) [Magistrate]
PC-WY-0005-9000
Johnson, Alan Bond (D. Wyo.) [Magistrate]
PC-WY-0005-0002 | PC-WY-0005-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Horvath, Jennifer (Wyoming)
PC-WY-0005-0001 | PC-WY-0005-0002 | PC-WY-0005-9000
Pevar, Stephen L. (Colorado)
PC-WY-0005-0001 | PC-WY-0005-0002 | PC-WY-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cox, Christine (Wyoming)
PC-WY-0005-0002 | PC-WY-0005-9000
Westby, Melissa E. (Wyoming)
PC-WY-0005-0002 | PC-WY-0005-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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