In 1977, an inmate of the Rockingham County Jail brought a pro se lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the officials of Rockingham County Jail. In his complaint he alleged that he was being kept in solitary confinement under ...
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In 1977, an inmate of the Rockingham County Jail brought a pro se lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the officials of Rockingham County Jail. In his complaint he alleged that he was being kept in solitary confinement under conditions so poor as to constitute cruel and unusual punishment, that he was denied medical treatment, and that he was denied the right to confer with his attorney, despite requests. It is unclear what relief he sought at the time.
In 1979, attorney Ronald Cook entered on behalf of the plaintiff and filed an amended complaint, seeking declaratory relief, actual and punitive damages, and costs and attorneys' fees. After over a year of negotiations, both parties entered into a consent decree, which provided no relief to plaintiff but did contain an admission that the defendants violated a term of a court order in Feeley v. Sampson, no. 75-171 (D.N.H. Sept., 24, 1976) JC-NH-0002 in this Clearinghouse. That provision required that due process, in the form of a hearing, be given in any instance of solitary confinement lasting more than twenty-four hours. Plaintiff had spent seven days in one instance and three days in another, which the consent decree recognized as unlawful under the rules of the district court's order. However, it awarded no damages or any other relief, and reserved the question as to what fees and costs were to go to the attorneys.
Plaintiff's attorneys, who at this time consisted of two practicing attorneys and a law student intern, petitioned for attorneys' fees, which the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire (Judge Shane Devine) awarded in reduced amount. The attorneys appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals at the same time they submitted a motion for clarification seeking an explanation for what hours they were being compensated for. The attorneys challenged both the initial fee award and the more detailed explanatory response. The First Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Stephen Breyer) affirmed the lower court, finding that the attorneys' failure to obtain a wholly successful result on plaintiff's complaint, coupled with an appropriate fee structure (despite attorneys' argument to the contrary) indicated that their cause had no merit. Miles v. Sampson, 675 F.2d 5 (1st Cir. 1982).
No further information is available on PACER or Westlaw.Rebecca Bloch - 02/20/2006