Shapiro Arato Bach Wins Prisoner Civil Rights Appeal

On July 23, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of our client, Jarvis Elder, on all but one of the claims raised in his civil rights appeal.  Mr. Elder spent 6 months in a punitive “special housing unit” after a prison disciplinary hearing at which he was convicted of stealing from another prisoner.  Mr. Elder later obtained a reversal of this conviction in state court, and then sued prison employees and officials in federal district court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating his due process rights at the disciplinary hearing and subjecting him to conditions of confinement that violated the Eighth Amendment.  The district court dismissed his Eighth Amendment claim and granted summary judgment to the defendants on his due process claims.  On appeal, the Second Circuit appointed Shapiro Arato Bach as pro bono counsel.  In its decision on the merits, the Second Circuit directed the entry of summary judgment in Mr. Elder’s favor on his claims that the defendants had failed to call the witnesses he requested and had convicted him based on inadequate evidence.  The Second Circuit also remanded for a trial on Mr. Elder’s claim that the officer assigned to assist his defense failed to provide constitutionally adequate assistance, and it granted him leave to replead his Eighth Amendment claim.

Associate Fabien Thayamballi argued the appeal and co-authored the briefs with partner Alexandra Shapiro.

The opinion in Elder v. McCarthy can be found here.

Copies of the briefs can be found here and here. A recording of the oral argument can be found here.