Tag Archives | Constitutional Law

Rare 13th Amendment Lawsuit Takes On Prison-Industrial Complex

Picture: Jacob Lawrence (PD)

As previously reported, a Vermont man is currently suing in Federal Court claiming that his forced labor as a pretrial detainee was in violation of the 13th Amendment. From Yahoo via Boing-Boing

The year was December 2008, and University of Vermont graduate student Finbar McGarry faced a dilemma. An inmate in a Vermont county jail, McGarry was required by correctional authorities to work in the jail laundromat for 25 cents per hour. If he refused to work, McGarry would have been thrown in solitary confinement—otherwise known as “the hole.” Not a pleasant alternative.
. . .
McGarry’s charges were ultimately dropped, and he was released. In 2009, he pressed a suit against his former captors in Brattleboro, Vermont, federal court for $11 million—claiming he was made a slave in violation of his 13th Amendment rights. The Brattleboro judge ruled that McGarry’s constitutional rights had not been violated, but that finding was overturned on appeal last week.

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Sister Wives Will Get Their Day In Court, Maybe

Picture: Creator Unknown (CC)

Welcome to the slippery slope, or so you might think. The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that polygamous TLC reality show performers Kody, Robyn, Christine, Meri, and Janelle Brown have successfully beat back Utah’s attempt to have their suit over the state’s anti-bigamy law tossed as non-justiciable:

Utah state attorneys argued the “Sister Wives” suit should be dismissed after a prosecutor pledged not to prosecute them for bigamy, but U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups disagreed. In his Friday ruling, Waddoups wrote that a new Utah County Attorney’s Office policy to avoid prosecuting consenting adult polygamists in the future seems to have been ploy to avoid the suit.

The “strategic attempt to use the mootness doctrine to evade review in this case draws into question the sincerity of [the Utah County Attorney’s]contention that prosecution of plaintiffs for violating this statute is unlikely to recur,” Waddoups wrote.

That means Judge Waddoups believes this case isn’t already moot.… Read the rest

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