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Case Name U.S. v. LaVallee PC-CO-0010
Docket / Court 1:00-cr-00481 ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On November 2, 2000, a federal grand jury indicted seven officers of the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. The indictment, superseded in February 2001, charged the defendants with one count of conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate by falsely justifying uses of force ... read more >
On November 2, 2000, a federal grand jury indicted seven officers of the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. The indictment, superseded in February 2001, charged the defendants with one count of conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate by falsely justifying uses of force against inmates; the remaining nine counts alleged physical assaults of individual inmates, depriving them of their Eighth Amendment right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. The charges were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242.

On December 15, 2000, each of the seven officers, represented by private counsel, entered "not guilty" pleas. Days before the trial was set to begin in April 2003, the prosecutors asked the court for a continuance because a key witness was ill and unable to come to court to testify. The court (Judge Wiley Y. Daniel) denied the motion, and the prosecutors appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the denial of the prosecution's motion, holding that outside circumstances preventing the witness from testifying did not constitute exclusion. U.S. v. LaVallee, 61 Fed. Appx. 631 (10th Cir. 2003).

The trial lasted two months and included testimony from guards, former guards, inmates, prison administrators, and three of the defendants. On June 23 and 24, 2003, after ten days of deliberation, the jury returned verdicts. Two of the seven inmates were convicted of the conspiracy charge. The same two defendants, Mike LaVallee and Rod Schultz, were also convicted of physically assaulting individual inmates. In addition, a third defendant, Robert Verbickas, was convicted of physically assaulting an inmate. The remaining four defendants were acquitted of all charges.

LaVallee, Schultz, and Verbickas each moved to be released from jail pending sentencing. After a hearing on July 1, 2003, the court (Judge Daniel) found that the defendants' conviction of a violent crime precluded their release pending sentencing and denied the motions on July 2, 2003. U.S. v. LaVallee, 269 F. Supp. 1297 (D. Colo. 2003). The defendants appealed the District Court's decision, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed the denial of their motion to be released pending sentencing on September 2, 2003. U.S. v. Verbickas, 75 Fed.Appx. 705 (10th Cir. 2003).

On November 21, 2003, the court (Judge Daniel) sentenced LaVallee and Schultz to incarceration terms of three years and five months; Verbickas' term was two-and-one-half years.

Parts of the docket are missing, but it appears that the Schultz, LaVallee, and Verbicks moved for a new trial. On December 10, 2004, the district court denied the request. The defendants appealed the decision later that month. The government also cross-appealed, asserting that the sentences were insufficient.

On May 17, 2005, Schultz filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Judge Wiley Y. Daniel denied the motion on May 20, 2005.

On October 21, 2005, Schultz filed a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidenced. It was denied in August of 2006.

On February 28, 2006, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued their opinion concerning Schultz, LaVallee, and Verbickas (appellants) and the government's cross-appeal. Appellants claimed their constitutional right to a fair trial was violated, that there were erroneous jury instructions, and that they were denied their due process right through discovery errors. They also appealed their sentences. Judges Tacha, Lucero, and Briscoe, in concurrence, affirmed the Appellants' convictions and sentences. They found that the Appellants suffered no constitutional defect in their trials, that the erroneous juror instructions were harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and that there were no errors in the discovery rulings. The court also upheld the sentences. 439 F.3d 670.

On April 19, 2007, Schultz filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on grounds that he was denied due process and effective assistance of counsel. On June 28, 2007, he moved for leave to interview trial jurors, arguing that it would determine if there had been a reasonable probability that their verdicts would have been different had they heard a witness testify. On October 30, 2008, the court denied it, asserting that it was a "fishing expedition" in a trial that had occurred over five years ago. 2008 WL 4787564. Schultz responded by filing a motion for reconsideration of the order denying leave to interview trial jurors.

On June 17, 2009, Judge Daniel denied Schultz' motion for reconsideration and the motion to vacate. He found that the motion for reconsideration was not based on newly discovered evidence and thus still amounted to a fishing expedition. He also found that the motion to vacate was based on claims that had already been sufficiently heard and thus did not warrant an additional evidentiary hearing. Schultz filed an appeal of the order on June 26, 2009.

On July 8, 2010, the Tenth Circuit of Appeals issued their opinion. Judges Holmes, Brorby and Ebel affirmed the holding of the district court, finding that there was no reasonable probability that the testimony of a witness would have changed the outcome. 385 Fed.Appx. 842.

Schultz then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court on November 24, 2010. On January 10, 2011, the Supreme Court denied the writ of certiorari.

The case is closed.

Laura Uberti - 06/01/2006
Cedar Hobbs - 03/13/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Assault/abuse by staff
Disciplinary procedures
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Criminal Conspiracy to Violate Federal Rights, 18 U.S.C. § 241
Criminal Violation of Federal Rights Under Color of Law, 18 U.S.C. § 242
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Mike LaVallee
Robert Verbickas
Rod Schultz
U.S. Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice (Criminal prosecution)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Criminal Conviction
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 11/02/2000
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
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
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

1:00-cr-00481-WYD (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0010-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/10/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order and Judgment (61 Fed.Appx. 631)
PC-CO-0010-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/09/2003
Source: Westlaw
Order (269 F.Supp.2d 1297) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0010-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/02/2003
Source: Google Scholar
Order and Judgment (75 Fed.Appx. 705)
PC-CO-0010-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/02/2003
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (439 F.3d 670)
PC-CO-0010-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/28/2006
Source: Westlaw
Order [ECF# 1679] (2006 WL 2475299) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0010-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/24/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 1695] (2008 WL 4787564) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0010-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/30/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 1707] (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0010-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/17/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Judgment [Ct. of App. ECF# 1730] (385 Fed.Appx. 842)
PC-CO-0010-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/08/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Briscoe, Mary Beck (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-0008
Brorby, Wade (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
Daniel, Wiley Young (D. Colo.) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0002 | PC-CO-0010-0003 | PC-CO-0010-0006 | PC-CO-0010-0007 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Ebel, David M. (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
Kelly, John David (Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
Lucero, Carlos F. (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-0008
McConnell, Michael W. (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
Murphy, Michael R. (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
Tacha, Deanell Reece (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Blumberg, Mark (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0003 | PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Gellert, Karl N. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Mydans, Robert E. (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0003 | PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Russel, Robert M. (Colorado) show/hide docs
Silver, Jessica Dunsay (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-0005
Suthers, John W. (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-0005
Defendant's Lawyers Banta, Richard James (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Covino, James S. (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0003 | PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Hammond, Thomas James (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0003 | PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Holland, Brian K. (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-9001
MacFarlane, Neil E. (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0003 | PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Sears, Daniel Joseph (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Smith, Daniel T. (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Stanton, Boston Henry Jr. (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0003 | PC-CO-0010-0004 | PC-CO-0010-0005 | PC-CO-0010-9001
Toray, Eric Richard (Colorado) show/hide docs
PC-CO-0010-0003 | PC-CO-0010-9001

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