› Forums › Legal News › WASHINGTON DOC PAYS PRISONER $7,645.79 FOR RETALIATION LAWSUIT.
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May 24, 2018 at 7:58 pm #241briannaParticipant
By: Brian Matthews, #796769
Song Pick: “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco
In Washington’s prisons, the level of unprofessional disrespect prisoners receive from prison staff for practicing their First-Amendment-protected law-related activities is absurd. Although there are very clear laws prohibiting retaliation for exercising the very few civil rights prisoners have while incarcerated, that doesn’t stop Washington’s DOC from still doing it.
Bryan Stetson may not be the most intellectual prisoner in Washington’s DOC, but that wasn’t stopping him from assiduously fighting over his custody and visitation rights for his daughter in a California Court via the mail. Like is common behavior with tile brainwashed overseers in DOC, Court documents indicate that one day the Office Assistant Supervisor (OAS) made some photocopies for Bryan’s litigation, charged him for the copies, then arbitrarily decided to destroy the copies instead of giving them to Bryan.
Bryan tried to peacefully redress this issue by way of a formal grievance complaint within the prison. After grieving the issue, Bryan was uprooted from his cell in the H1 Living unit and forced to move to another unit (H5) on the other side of the prison. When Bryan asked why he was moved, he received no answer, so he grieved the fact that he was moved in apparent retaliation for having filed the grievance against the OAS.
Grievance coordinator D. Dahne responded to the grievance and flat-out told Bryan that he could not grieve the cell-move issue. Dahne also told Bryan that he was moved to accommodate a wheelchair-bound prisoner who needed the bed. Get this: Bryan was moved from the top bunk–how in the fuck is a wheelchair-bound prisoner going to occupy the top bunk? So Bryan did a public records request and got the emails between the H1 Correctional Unit Supervisor (CUS) Kathryn Bruner and other CUS’s which show that Bryan’s move wasn’t because of
a wheelchair-bound prisoner’s need, but instead was because Bryan was
considered a “leagle beagle and takes up too much staff time” making legal copies, and CUS Bruner wanted to “get rid of” him. Despite the blatant bold-faced lies on official DOC documents, the bottom line is CUS Bruner committed retaliation against Bryan for nothing more than grieving the H1 OAS regarding his custody fight over his daughter in court.
So Bryan brought a federal suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. He alleged a pattern and practice of DOC retaliating against prisoners for their practicing law-related activities, and requested punitive, declaratory, and injunctive relief. Of course, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) defended DOC’s crimes, and immediately started playing their bullshit games that they always play against prison litigators. But Bryan stayed with it. The AGO moved the court for Summary Judgment, claiming qualified immunity because they alleged CUS Bruner acted in good faith when she was intentionally violating Bryan’s civil rights (I know, ridiculous, right? “Although my client was intentionally committing crimes against you and intentionally lying about it, my client was doing it in good faith and shouldn’t be punished.”). Bryan responded, and pointed out that (1) he was originally on the top bunk, and a wheelchair-bound prisoner could
not climb the ladder to access the top bunk; (2) no wheelchair-bound prisoner was moved into his old cell after he (Bryan) was relocated; (3) CUS Bruner’s emails indicate that she was targeting him for his law-related activities; and (4) CUS Bruner was not entitled to qualified immunity because the law in the 9th Circuit is–and has been–well-settled in that retaliation against prisoners is absolutely prohibited. The Court agreed with Bryan, noting that the evidence submitted shows that there is a question of retaliation by Bruner. The Court appointed Bryan an Attorney from Seattle, Harry Williams, IV. Harry started preparing for trial, and insinuated to DOC that they should settle the case because this would not go well for the State if it went to
trial. After a few rounds of negotiations, DOC agreed to give Bryan $5,000 plus $2,377.25 in copy costs and $268.54 in mailing costs as a settlement.
Yet again DOC has covered up their crimes by using the AGO to defend their intentional civil rights violations against prisoners. This is not a once-every-now-and-then thing: this is how these despots in Washington’s DOC consistently react to prisoners who stand up for themselves. Worse yet, try to imagine how they treat the majority of prisoners who don’t know how to stand up for themselves. It’s almost as if DOC expects all prisoners to remain ignorant and pretend we’re in a feudal tenure and run around saying “yes, m’lord” to every aspect of their criminal regime. News flash: Some of those ignorant prisoners have learned to read and write, and are not going to let the bullshit fly any longer without bringing it to the Court’s attention. Our Republic form of State government is meant to be OF the People. By the People. For the People. It would behoove DOC’s personnel to understand that prisoners
are imprisoned AS their punishment, not to RECEIVE punishment.
Bryan’s lawsuit can be found at U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington under Case #3:15-cv-05524-BHS KLS.
(c)Copyright 2018 BRIAN DAVID MATTHEWS.
All Rights Reserved.
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