University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Lichtenwalter v. DeWine PC-OH-0033
Docket / Court 2020-0401 ( State Court )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a combined mandamus and habeas petition filed in March where an inmate requested release due to his heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, due to his HIV-positive status. Relief was denied on April 16.


On March 19, 2020, the plaintiff, an inmate at ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a combined mandamus and habeas petition filed in March where an inmate requested release due to his heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, due to his HIV-positive status. Relief was denied on April 16.


On March 19, 2020, the plaintiff, an inmate at Belmont Correctional Institute, filed this petition for writ of mandamus or, in the alternative, habeas corpus. The petition was filed against Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and the Warden of Belmont Correctional Institution. He argued that the prison was not engaging in proper social distancing amidst the outbreak of COVID-19 and that the common areas were overcrowded, an environment that would make it particularly easy for the virus to spread. To make matters worse, the plaintiff claimed, he was HIV-positive. He claimed that this brought his chance of death to somewhere between twenty and fifty percent. According to the plaintiff, failure to allow for proper social distancing constituted a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. He sought release in order to avoid contact with the virus.

Early in April, the ACLU of Ohio submitted a motion asking the court to file an amicus brief on behalf of the petitioner.

On April 16, nearly a month later, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph order that denied the petitioner habeas corpus for failure to state a claim, but also allowed the ACLU of Ohio to file an amicus brief. Justice Michael Donnelly wrote a concurring opinion, arguing that habeas was not appropriate because petitioner sought only to get away from the environment of prison, not release from state custody. He also stated that the court did not have the power to force the executive to release the petitioner via a writ of mandamus.

Jack Hibbard - 07/16/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Release Denied
COVID-19 Release Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Appellate Court is initial court
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Governor Mike DeWine
Warden of Belmont Correctional Institution
Plaintiff Description Inmate at Belmont Correctional Institution in Ohio
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 03/13/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Docket(s)
20-401 (State Supreme Court)
PC-OH-0033-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2020
General Documents
[Request for] Writ of Mandamus
PC-OH-0033-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/11/2020
Source: State Court Website
Supreme Court Order
PC-OH-0033-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/16/2020
Source: State Court Website
Motion for Leave to File Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Relator Derek Lichtenwalter
PC-OH-0033-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2020
Source: State Court Website
show all people docs
Other Lawyers Becker, Susan Jane (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0033-0001
Bonham, Elizabeth (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0033-0001
Levenson, Freda J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0033-0001
Mead, Joseph W. (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0033-0001

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -