Sep 01, 2019
I’d like to respond to a letter printed in your #58, Spring 2019 issues, page 6. It was by Anonymous about taking all civil litigations to trial. I was raised in Cali’s CYA’S and state prisons for about 23 years of my life. Before I tried to outrun the 3 strikes law in 2000 and ended up in a worse mandatory minimum sentence called measure II in Oregon.
I agree with Anonymous ["to break the prison system by statewide civil litigations where all prisoner cases proceed to trial and absolutely no settlements."] but would argue this needs to be done on a nationwide basis, not just state-wide. § 1983 Civil Rights Cases arise in U.S District Courts which are federal and subsidized by the Federal Government and any settlements or damages are paid by the state’s insurance and/or bonding company, so you cannot “break the state” this way.
I’ve settled two cases out of court now and so know a bit about which I speak, and that’s another problem we face. They have deep pockets and rely upon the knowledge that the majority of us [don’t have]. The majority of us are poor and have never seen “real money” before and so they pay us off to dismiss cases. It’s very hard to turn down offers in the six digits! But consider this, they do not settle cases with losers! They file motions to dismiss or summon judgment motions they know they’ll win, and so if they’re offering to settle it’s probably because you’re going to win.
Keep in mind as well you’ll have to show the court a good faith effort. If you’re unreasonable or refuse to negotiate, the court won’t look on you favorably. However, if you just fail to reach any agreement you can say you tried. Also, you run the risk of turning down a large settlement and the jury only awards you one dollar! It’s happened before so you need to know the strength and severity of your case.
Before reading that article, I had already decided that all future cases (lifer) will go to trial to set precedent that we can all build upon, Cali, Oregon, and others are all within the 9th circuit jurisdiction. So a win for one is a win for all. And be assured that if you win at trial the A.G. will surely appeal to the 9th circuit, and their decisions are binding on all of us. Also, I would encourage someone somewhere to create a website to make these lawsuits easily available to the public so they can see the abuses for themselves. This would bring awareness to the general masses and if you want real change you have to change the public’s perceptions on crime and justice!
Lastly all newspapers have investigative journalists whom you can write to, every state has a disability rights organization or system designed to protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with mental illness; They investigate incidents of abuse, neglect, etc. and are authorized under 42. V.S.C. 10801-10851. They are government funded (so you pay nothing) or funded by private charities.
You’ve heard the old saying, the pen is mightier than the sword.
This is true but like the sword, you must first learn to wield it.
Respect to all my Modesto homeboys, Anonymous