Liman fellows, faculty, and our affiliated and advisory attorneys are working to improve the safety of as many people as possible during the COVID-19 crisis. This work includes court actions to decrease the number of people in detention, halt evictions, and protect immigrants. To help our colleagues in these efforts, we are regularly updating:

  • In the Courts for motions and decisions
  • Press for writings by Liman affiliates and coverage of their work
  • Resources for data sources from around the country

 

In the Courts 

May 29, 2020
Martinez-Brooks v. Easter (Order)
U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut. Granting in part petitioners’ request to extend previous order to those medically vulnerable inmates already determined to be appropriate for placement in a residential reentry center, finding extraordinary circumstances that allow for habeas grant of bail. Limited to those without violent or sexual offenses of conviction and without a PATTERN score of “High.”

May 23, 2020
Wilson v. Williams (Application)
U.S. Supreme Court. Opposition to application for a stay of the injunction issued by the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, and for an administrative stay. Argues that a stay of the injunction ordered against the prison would be inappropriate, given the lack of likelihood of certiorari and lack of irreparable harm. Includes statement of facts, Eighth Amendment risk of harm argument, and expert declarations.

May 19, 2020
Wilson v. Williams (Order)
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio. Citing insufficient testing/reporting and continuing spread of virus, orders Federal Correctional Institution to comply with a preliminary injunction previously issued by expanding releases to home confinement, justifying its denials of compassionate release or transfer, and expanding its list of subclass members eligible for enlargement.

May 12, 2020
Malam v. Adducci (Opinion and Order)
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division. Grants in part plaintiffs’ motion for temporary restraining order as a preliminary Injunction. Orders immediate release for two medically vulnerable noncitizen detainees, in part on Fifth Amendment due process grounds.

May 12, 2020
Savino v. Souza (Memorandum of Decision)
U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts. Grants preliminary injunction in a class action suit regarding individuals in immigration detention, citing likely deliberate indifference from the government. Orders testing and no new admissions or transfers, after granting release to house arrest for a subset of class members.

May 12, 2020
Martinez-Brooks v. Easter (Ruling)
U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut. Grants inmates’ motion for a temporary restraining order and orders Danbury Federal Correctional Institution to accelerate releases. Denies warden’s motion to dismiss.

May 11, 2020
United States v. Funez Osorto (Order)
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. This order rejects the government’s proposed plea requiring waiver of federal statutory right to seek compassionate release as unconscionable and counter to legislative intent.

May 9, 2020
United States v. Amarrah (Order)
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division. Finding the COVID-19 pandemic an extraordinary and compelling circumstance for medically vulnerable detainee, and rejecting as “offensive and meritless” the Bureau of Prison's argument that release is “cutting in line.” 

May 5, 2020
Wilson v. Williams (Order)
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Denies a federal prison's motion for a stay of injunction granted by lower court re: enlargement at the prison. Finds invocation of § 2241 proper, accepts district court’s factual findings, and rejects claim of irreparable harm imposed by compliance.

May 1, 2020
In re: Illinois Courts Response to COVID-19 Emergency/ Impact on Post-Judgment Proceedings (Order)
Supreme Court of Illinois. Directs banks to release funds up to $4,000 from bank accounts frozen due to adverse judgments, and allows banks to release additional funds in response to a request by the judgment creditor’s counsel, without need for a court order, under the Court’s general authority. 

April 29, 2020
Hernandez Roman v. Wolf (Orders and Findings)
U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Grants preliminary injunction and preliminary class certification to ICE detainees at Adelanto, requiring that the facility reduce its population by 70% and adopt social distancing practices. Appeal pending. See also: Order Granting Preliminary Injunction and Provisional Class Certification Order

April 29, 2020
Martinez-Brooks v. Easter (Petition)
U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut. Class action habeas petition filed by prisoners at the Federal Correctional Center at Danbury on 8th Amendment grounds, requesting transfer or release to home confinement for the most medically vulnerable and adoption of social distancing and hygiene measures for those remaining.

April 22, 2020
Wilson v. Williams (Order)
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio. In response to a habeas petition for enlargement based on conditions of confinement brought by class of medically vulnerable inmates, grants a preliminary injunction ordering the prison to begin transfers or releases from the facility. Cites a declaration by Judith Resnik, Liman Center director.

April 19, 2020
United States v. Scparta (Opinion & Order)
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. Grants motion for compassionate release for a medically vulnerable inmate held under indefinite “quarantine” despite eligibility for home confinement. Notably, the court reverses its prior position and excuses failure to exhaust administrative remedies under the First Step Act, citing equitable exception.

April 17, 2020
Barrera v. Wolf (Opinion & Order)
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas. Grants partial injunctive relief on a motion for temporary restraining order, compelling release of medically vulnerable plaintiff from immigration detention on habeas constitutional conditions-of-confinement and Fifth Amendment due process grounds. Denies same relief to additional plaintiff due to perceived risk to public.

April 13, 2020
United States v. Haney (Order)
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. The petitioner moved for compassionate release. The court denied the motion on jurisdictional grounds, ruling that the petitioner had not exhausted other options.

April 10, 2020
Colvin v. Inslee (Order)
Supreme Court of Washington. Order on motion in which five petitioners sought accelerated review. 

April 10, 2020
United States v. Burrill (Order)
U.S. District Court, District of Northern California. An order granting emergency motion for release is granted.

April 9, 2020
United States v. Almontes (Order)
U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut. An order reducing a sentence to time served on a motion for compassionate release for “extraordinary and compelling” reasons (i.e. medical needs and age). 

April 8, 2020
NIPNLG v. EOIR (Motion)
U.S. District Court, District of Columbia. National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) and others moved for an emergency temporary restraining order against the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to cease in-person hearings in immigration courts and develop safer alternatives. The arguments are on Administrative Procedure Act and right-to-counsel, and equity/public interest grounds. (Background on this case from NIPNLG is here.)

April 8, 2020
Money v. Jeffreys (Declaration)
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Declaration regarding provisional remedies for detained individuals by Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Liman Center. This declaration outlines the authority of the courts to protect the health and safety of prisoners and desscribes a provisional remedy known as enlargement.

April 8, 2020
NAACP (North Carolina) v. Cooper (Motion)
North Carolina Supreme Court. Writ of mandamus (or habeas in alternative) against the Governor for state prisons to de-carcerate due to the risks of COVID-19.

March 31, 2020
Plata v. Newsom and Plata v. Newsom (Order)
U.S. District Court, Districts of Eastern California and Northern California. An order granting an unopposed motion to file amicus curiae, allowing a corrections expert to submit statement in support of a motion to modify a prison population reduction order.

March 27, 2020
Coleman v. Newsom and Plata v. Newsom (Amicus curiae statement of corrections expert)
U.S. District Court, Districts of Eastern California and Northern California. Statement of Rick Raemisch, former head of corrections in Colorado and Wisconsin, filed in federal litigation to reduce prison population in California in light of COVID-19. Chuck Weisselberg of UC Berkeley is the attorney and Judith Resnik of Yale Law School is of counsel.

March 15, 2020
Declaration on the risks of COVID-19 in ICE detention centers and jails
Dr. Jaimie Meyer, Affiliated Faculty of the Liman Center, provided this declaration for the NYCLU/Bronx Defenders. She has been asked to testify in cases around the country.

 

Press

April 27, 2020
Clinic Class Action Filed Against CT Bureau of Prisons
A class action lawsuit was filed on in federal court in Connecticut seeking to require federal officials to provide emergency measures to protect the more than 1,000 women and men at the three facilities of the low-security federal prison in Danbury from COVID-19. (Press release from Yale Law School.) Several current and former Liman fellows were involved in the suit.

April 13, 2020
Coronavirus Border Expulsions: CDC’s Assault on Asylum Seekers and Unaccompanied Minors
In a commentary for Just Security, Lucas Guttentag, Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School, writes that a Trump administration COVID-19 border ban “attempts to erect a shadow immigration system devoid of constitutional protections.”

March 27, 2020
Protecting Prisoners in Pandemics Is a Constitutional Must
In a commentary for Bloomberg Law, Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Liman Center, writes “Protecting prisoners from pandemics is not just a ‘should’ or an ‘ought’ but a ‘must’ — as a matter of U.S. constitutional law.”

March 25, 2020
Dr. Jaimie Meyer, Affiliated Faculty of the Liman Center, has been quoted by various news outlets:
Lawyers protest dangers at detention center Investigative Post
Courts Halt Most Hearings As Prison Safety Fears Grow Seven Days (Vermont)

 

Resources

COVID-19 in Your Correctional Facility: Answers, Advice, and Actions
Amend at University of California San Francisco is a team of experts in medicine, public health, correctional policy and education that has developed resources to support correctional leadership, residents in correctional facilities, correctional officers and advocates. Includes Ethical Use of Medical Isolation – Not Solitary Confinement. 

Discussions of Strategies for Jails, Prisons, and Oversight Bodies During the COVID-19 Crisis
NACOLE (National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement) brings together experts, members of the oversight community, and others to share information about how jurisdictions across the country are addressing COVID-19 in jails and prisons and strategies for reducing jail and prison populations.

UCLA Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project
From the UCLA Prison Law and Policy Program and Professor Sharon Dolovich, this source tracks COVID-19 conditions in jails and prisons and the efforts — both in and out of court — to decrease jail and prison populations and improve conditions to ensure the safety of residents and staff. The project's Court Orders page tracks the orders of state and federal judges who have used their authority to release people from jails and prisons and to order improvements to conditions for those who remain.   

Attorneys Seeking Assistance Form
Attorneys working on client matters related to COVID-19 can file a request for pro-bono research. Requests are sent to a list of more than 3,000 law students, paralegal students, and paralegals seeking projects.

Which Companies Still Aren’t Offering Paid Sick Days?
A group of law students have been maintaining this tracker.

50 State Survey of Access to Unemployment Insurance during COVID-19
Report on the People’s Party Project’s survey of how well states are providing 
information about unemployment insurance for workers affected by COVID-19. Summaries for each state are listed.

COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria by State, Commonwealth and Territory
From Columbia Law School, a spreadsheet documenting court, gubernatorial, and legislative actions that affect eviction and foreclosure cases.