On April 21, 2020, Mr. David Terwilliger, an 80-year-old disabled veteran approaching the final year of a twenty-year sentence in Connecticut state prison, filed suit in federal court seeking his release. Mr. Terwilliger had been approved for community release but continued to be incarcerated. The suit sought emergency relief in light of his serious underlying medical conditions and vulnerability to COVID-19. The suit named Department of Correction Commissioner Rollin Cook and Warden Nick Rodriguez as defendants. Mr. Terwilliger is represented by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic.
Mr. Terwilliger’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus argued that the conditions at Osborn Correctional Institution where he was being held violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and his right to be free from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The day after filing the petition, on April 22, Mr. Terwilliger filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. He asked the court to grant his immediate release pending a decision on the merits of his petition in light of the grave and imminent risk that COVID-19 poses to him. The court also issued an order to show cause requiring the defendants to respond to the petition by May 1.
The following day, attorneys for the state notified the district court and the parties that Mr. Terwilliger would be released to a halfway house in Connecticut on April 24. The suit remains pending while Mr. Terwilliger continues to seek release to his family in Georgia.