Today the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal allowed James Terry to proceed with his lawsuit against Warden Cornel Hubert of Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, for damages resulting from his treatment during and after Hurricane Katrina.
James Terry was arrested at his home in New Orleans in the days following the 2005 levee breaks. He was sent to Elayn Hunt, where he spent almost seven months in jail without being charged with a crime. With no access to an attorney or a law library, Mr. Terry wrote to Warden Hunt seeking information about how to obtain his release. He got no response, and ultimately was released without formal charges. James Terry tells his own story at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww6jIOhP5oU
Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles ruled that Mr. Terry had sufficiently alleged that Warden Hubert showed deliberate indifference to his plight such that Mr. Terry could proceed with his suit against the Warden.. On appeal, the U.S. Fifth Circuit agreed, ruling that Warden Hubert's claim of immunity is one for the trial court to determine.
This case is the second in which Warden Hubert's claim of immunity has been denied by the courts. "All prisoners have the right to due process and to be treated fairly under the law," said ACLU staff attorney Katie Schwartzmann. "James Terry was held for seven months simply for being at his home. His pleas for help were denied. He has the right to proceed with a lawsuit against warden who denied his pleas for help. All he wants is the right to proceed with his lawsuit, and we're pleased that he can do so now."