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Civil Rights Action by Pretrial Detainee, and Criminal and Government Benefits Matters

By FindLaw Staff on June 10, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Davis v. Oregon County, No. 09-2700, concerned an action by a pretrial detainee at the Oregon County jail asserting that defendants violated his rights in failing to ensure his safety after a fire broke out at the jail.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, on the grounds that 1) plaintiff's allegations regarding the correctional officers' disregard for the jail's smoking policy was contradicted by the undisputed facts in the record demonstrating the officers' sweeps for contraband as recently as five days before the fire; 2) the jail's inoperable sprinklers and lack of extra fire equipment such as oxygen tanks did not, standing alone, amount to deliberate indifference in light of the officers' actions in searching for contraband, as well as the fire extinguishers and smoke detectors that were present at the time of the fire; and 3) the conditions at the Oregon County jail were not so dangerous as to violate contemporary standards of decency.

In US v. MacInnis, No. 09-2710, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's sentence for possession of pseudoephedrine while knowing or having reasonable cause to believe it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine, on the grounds that 1) given the number and nature of defendant's unscored convictions, there was no error, plain or otherwise, in the district court's imposition of an upward departure; and 2) the court of appeals' careful review of the record and defendant's sentence revealed no abuse of the district court's considerable sentencing discretion and no basis for concluding defendant's within-Guidelines sentence was substantively unreasonable.

Kluesner v. Astrue, No. 09-2831, involved a petition for review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of petitioner's application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income.  The court of appeals denied the petition, on the grounds that 1) the medical records from the period that petitioner used marijuana were substantial evidence that his substance abuse was a contributing factor material to his disability; 2) the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) initial finding that petitioner's symptoms, regardless of cause, constituted disability did not preclude an ultimate finding that substance abuse was a contributing factor simply because petitioner was not abusing marijuana at the time of the hearing; and 3) the ALJ did not reject petitioner's testimony that he had stopped using marijuana, and in fact, he found that his substance abuse was "in remission."

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