University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Prieto v. Clarke PC-VA-0018
Docket / Court 12-cv-01199 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On October 24, 2012, a prisoner on death row at Sussex I State Prison ("SISP") in Waverly, Virginia, filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia under 42 U.S.C. §1983, against the director, deputy director and warden at SISP. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court ... read more >
On October 24, 2012, a prisoner on death row at Sussex I State Prison ("SISP") in Waverly, Virginia, filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia under 42 U.S.C. §1983, against the director, deputy director and warden at SISP. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory relief, claiming that the conditions of his confinement and the restrictive visitation policy of the prison violated the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause, Due Process, and the VDOC rules and regulations.

On November 2, 2012, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema dismissed the claim on the prison's visitation policy for failure to state a claim. The plaintiff appealed this decision, but the 4th Circuit dismissed the appeal on February 6, 2013, for failure to prosecute pursuant to Local Rule 45.

On January 25, 2013, the defendants moved for summary judgment, which Judge Brinkema denied on February 20, 2013.

Subsequently, both parties moved for summary judgment. On November 12, 2013, Judge Brinkema granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and denied the Defendant's motion for summary judgment. 2013 WL 6019215. In the opinion, Judge Brinkema gave the State two options going forward: (1) provide the plaintiff with an individualized classification determination using procedures that are the same or substantially similar to the procedures used for all non-capital offenders, or (2) vary the basic conditions of confinement on death row, if only slightly, such that confinement there would no longer impose an atypical and significant hardship on the plaintiff. The State appealed this decision and moved to stay the order pending appeal. Judge Brinkema denied this motion on January 10, 2014. On December 13, 2013, Judge Brinkema ordered the State to pay attorney's fees and costs totaling $165,395.99.

On March 10, 2015, the Fourth Circuit reversed both the injunctive order and the order granted fees. In an opinion by Judge Diana Motz, joined by Judge Shedd, the Court of Appeals held that the state procedure requiring all capital offenders to be housed on death row was constitutional. Although conditions were harsh, the Court said, the plaintiff had no entitlement to anything more -- and therefore no due-process-protected liberty interest in avoiding the harsh conditions. Judge Wynn dissented: Under Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209 (2005), he said, the plaintiff did indeed have a liberty interest and was therefore entitled to individualized process prior to confinement in the solitary conditions of Virginia's death row.

Jessica Kincaid - 02/10/2014
- 03/13/2015


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary segregation
Grievance Procedures
Recreation / Exercise
Visiting
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Virginia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Death row prisoner in Virginia
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
None
Source of Relief Litigation
None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2013 - 2015
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
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)
1:12-cv-1199 (E.D. Va.) 02/20/2014
PC-VA-0018-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion and Order 11/02/2012 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 11/02/2012 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Dismissing Proceeding for Failure to Prosecute Pursuant to Local Rule 45) 02/06/2013 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Complaint Under Civil Rights Act 42 U.S.C. 02/15/2013
PC-VA-0018-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 02/20/2013 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Denying Without Prejudice Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment) 02/20/2013 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 11/12/2013 (2013 WL 6019215) (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/12/2013 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment 11/13/2013 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Entitling Plaintiff Attorneys' Fee and Canceling Hearing) 12/13/2013 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Temporary Stay Pending Appeal (Attached: Inmates Sentenced to Death Housing Policy) 12/31/2013
PC-VA-0018-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Denying Defendants' Motion for Temporary Stay Pending Appeal) 01/10/2014 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0018-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 03/10/2015 (780 F.3d 245)
PC-VA-0018-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Brinkema, Leonie M. (E.D. Va.) [Magistrate]
PC-VA-0018-0001 | PC-VA-0018-0002 | PC-VA-0018-0003 | PC-VA-0018-0004 | PC-VA-0018-0006 | PC-VA-0018-0009 | PC-VA-0018-0011 | PC-VA-0018-0012 | PC-VA-0018-9000
Motz, Diana Jane Gribbon (Fourth Circuit)
PC-VA-0018-0013
Wynn, James Andrew Jr. (Fourth Circuit)
PC-VA-0018-0013
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Qureshi, Abid Riaz (District of Columbia)
PC-VA-0018-0014 | PC-VA-0018-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dwyre, Kate Elizabeth (Virginia)
PC-VA-0018-9000
Vorhis, Richard Carson (Virginia)
PC-VA-0018-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -