Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Overdetention is One Thing; Getting Judicial Relief is Quite Another

The Fifth Circuit acknowledged yesterday that detaining a prisoner beyond their release date is a classic violation of due process. But it said that a prisoner's claim was barred by qualified immunity. This, despite a recent DOJ report finding "systemic overdetentions" by the Department and Department "deliberate indifference to the systemic overdetentions."

The case, Taylor v. LeBlanc, arose when the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections "overdetained" prisoner Percy Taylor. According to the court, "Department officials gave him credit for time served in pre-trial detention, but only for one (rather than both) of his two consecutive sentences." As a result, Taylor spent more than a year (a year!) longer in prison than he should have.

Taylor sued the Department secretary (LeBlanc), arguing that LeBlanc should have delegated authority to calculate release dates to an attorney, not to the non-attorney officials who misread the release-date law, and that LeBlanc's failure to do so was objectively unreasonable.

The court disagreed. It wrote that "Taylor does not point to anything that suggests the Constitution requires these determinations be made by attorneys." Taylor gets qualified immunity; case dismissed.

Cases and Case Materials, News, Opinion Analysis, Procedural Due Process | Permalink


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