The United States Supreme Court hears approximately two percent of the thousands of cases submitted to it each year. Last week, the Court announced cases it will hear during its upcoming term. Among those were two filed by pro se (on one’s own behalf) prisoners, one of who is incarcerated at USP Lewisburg:
Well-heeled clients pay tens of thousands of dollars to hit the legal jackpot: Supreme Court review of their appeals. But Tuesday, the court decided to hear cases filed by two people who couldn’t afford or didn’t bother to hire an attorney.
Kim Lee Millbrook, a prisoner at the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., sued the government after accusing prison guards at the Special Management Unit of sexually assaulting him in May 2010. Prison officials said Millbrook’s claim was unsubstantiated.
Lower courts threw out Millbrook’s lawsuit, but justices said they would use his appeal — carefully written in longhand — to decide the narrow issue of when the government can be sued for claims of abuses by federal prison guards. Millbrook wrote on a form that can be printed off the Supreme Court website that he was proceeding without a lawyer because he couldn’t afford one.
According to court documents, the penitentiary’s internal probe of the incident determined that the allegations were unsubstantiated. But all documents explaining how the Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Department of Justice reached that conclusion remain sealed.[…]
The Supreme Court Tuesday accepted his appeal in the earlier case but said its consideration will be limited to the issue of when the government can be sued for claims of abuses by federal prison guards. The judges note that they plan to debate whether prison guards can be held liable for their actions when they are on the job, but not conducting searches or seizures.
Middle District Senior Judge William J. Nealon stated when he dismissed that complaint, Millbrook’s allegations were troubling but his claims were precluded by the Federal Tort Claims Act. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed him in April.
In that suit, Millbrook alleged on May 5, 2010, he was taken to the basement of the special management unit and forced to perform a sex act on a guard while another held his neck and a third stood watch.