In March, Emergent filed a Supreme Court amicus brief on behalf of the National Police Accountability Project and Human Rights Defense Center in Ross v. Blake, a prison brutality case in which the defendant guards argued that a prisoner should not be permitted to pursue civil rights claims in federal court if he fails to follow all the steps in any grievance system -- even if that system is not effectively available because it is a dead end, confusing, or manipulated by prison officials.
This month, the Supreme Court handed down its opinion and ruled in favor of the prisoner, Shaidon Blake. Blake had requested an internal investigation, which was carried out and found he had been beaten while handcuffed and held against a wall. The guards (and a large group of states) argued that, because Blake did not also file a formal grievance, he should be barred from court. Because prison documents showed that wardens had refused to consider grievances while investigations were in process, the Supreme Court ordered the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to determine whether the prison had effectively made the grievance system unavailable to Blake.
Emergent dedicates a significant amount of its time every year to pro bono work. To find out more, contact us.