Cases & Deals

Prisoner obtains vacatur of judgment dismissing civil-rights lawsuit

Client(s) Prisoner

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit appointed Jones Day associate Ben Cassady to represent an Illinois prisoner whose civil-rights complaint against Illinois prison officials was dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court ruled that the pro se plaintiff had not filed an emergency grievance with the prison before filing suit. At the evidentiary hearing, prison officials testified that they had checked their grievance log and found no record that the plaintiff had submitted an emergency grievance.

Representing the plaintiff on appeal, Jones Day argued that the district court committed clear error by not confirming that the witnesses reviewed, testified, and produced the correct grievance log: one that tracks emergency grievances. Just before oral argument, the state acknowledged that this significant evidentiary error had indeed occurred, and conceded that the judgment should be vacated. After holding argument, the Seventh Circuit accordingly vacated the district court's exhaustion ruling and remanded for further proceedings.

Boykin v. Sandholm, et al., No. 18-1154 (7th Cir.)