Another nail in the AA coffin :->

From the Sacramento Bee sacbee.com

Atheist parolee wins federal appeal, is entitled to damages in rights case
By Denny Walsh
dwalsh@sacbee.com
Published: Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B Last Modified: Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 - 9:20 am

An atheist parolee who was sent back to prison after he balked at participating in a religious-oriented drug treatment program must receive monetary compensation, a federal appellate court ruled Friday.

The ruling overturned the verdict of a Sacramento jury, which decided that Barry A. Hazle Jr. was not entitled to monetary damages, even though his constitutional rights had been violated.

Hazle did a year in state prison on a drug conviction. When he got out, his parole agent, over Hazle's strong objections, forced him to enter a treatment program that required acknowledgment of a higher power.

Hazle continued to complain, so he was removed from the program and arrested. His parole was revoked and he was thrown back in prison for an additional three months and 10 days.

In September 2008, Hazle sued California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials. Six weeks later, the department issued a directive that parole agents may not compel a parolee to take part in religious-themed programs. A parolee who objects should be referred to nonreligious treatment, the directive said, citing federal case law.

U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. found that Hazle's forced participation in the program ran "afoul of the prohibition against the state's favoring religion in general over non-religion," thus violating rights guaranteed him by the Constitution.

But, when the case went to trial on the issue of money, the jury refused to award damages for his loss of liberty and emotional distress.

Burrell denied Hazle's motion for a new trial, ruling he had forfeited a challenge to the verdict by not objecting before the jury was discharged, and that the jury did not find a specific defendant responsible for damages.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Burrell is wrong on multiple issues.

Citing a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court opinion, the panel declared that awarding compensatory damages in a civil rights action is not a matter of discretion.

Quoting the high court, the panel said, "Compensatory damages … are mandatory; once liability is found, the jury is required to award … damages in an amount appropriate to compensate the plaintiff for his loss."

The appellate judges sent the case back to Burrell for a new damages trial, and they directed Burrell to instruct the jury that Hazle is entitled to damages. The three judges also said it doesn't make any difference that the jury did not fix responsibility on individual corrections officials named as defendants because they are jointly responsible for the damages.

The panel further ruled that Hazle is entitled to a new trial as to emotional distress damages because of erroneous instructions on the law given to the jury by Burrell, and because the verdict form was flawed.

"It's a great day," exclaimed Hazle, a 45-year-old computer technician, when reached Friday by phone at his home in Redding. "Justice has been served. Now, at least, we'll get a fair trial."

The 33-page opinion was authored by Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt, with the concurrences of Circuit Judges Dorothy W. Nelson and Milan D. Smith Jr.

The panel also reversed Burrell's ruling that let defendant Westcare California Inc. off the hook.

The company contracts with CDCR to coordinate drug treatment for parolees in an area that includes Shasta County.

There is "a genuine issue of material fact" whether Westcare contributed to the violation of Hazle's constitutional rights when it chose to contract with treatment facilities offering only religious-based programs, and when it arranged for Hazle to attend one despite knowing he is an atheist who had objected to such a program.

Finally, the panel reversed Burrell's denial of an injunction blocking the expenditure of state funds on an unconstitutional practice. Burrell concluded the request was mooted by CDCR's 2008 directive forbidding forced attendance at religious-based programs.

The evidence, however, is that "the defendants do not appear to have taken any concrete steps to prevent other parolees from suffering the same constitutional violations Hazle suffered," the three appellate judges said.

Westcare's culpability and possible nonenforcement of the directive were sent back to Burrell "for further consideration."

Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/08/24/5676856/atheist-parolee-wins-federal-ap...

Comments

massive's picture

Tom Horvath sent me this tonight!! I was so happy to see this win for all of us. ANyone want pamphlets let me know I will send you some.

Massive

criticoolthinking's picture

but my mind is not made up against prisoners being screened and made to see an actual doctor, still even when i tried t o find help from a realMD it was often poor quality.

the only thing we have to fear; is man himself. CGJung

Punish for the crime, if there is one. I happen to think that Meth holding isn't an awful offense, btw. Dealing is another story though....

Making someone go to treatment is impractical and not a judges job anyway.

It's a different and complicated issue so I'd happily listen and read about other thoughts regarding this. I'm not trying to blame the U.S. government for people becoming addicted, but I do blame them for claiming "war" and doing a piss poor job of keeping drugs from being so readily available. There shouldn't be much surprise about how many addicted persons there are considering 1) Many are becoming addicted after (even properly) dosing a from a doctor's script 2) Lots of corrupt doctors out there 3) Lack of proper education regarding the negative affects of drug use 4) The type of treatment that is offered. I'd of thunk that these issues would have been thoroughly examined and part of the international "attack" on drugs. Lots of money spent on it, I wonder how it was all spent?

Pro Empowerment!

JR Harris's picture

OOPS - I guess he didn't know....

DWI attorney who came to court drunk gets probation

Posted at: 08/22/2013 2:08 PM | Updated at: 08/22/2013 2:10 PM
By: KOB.com staff

ALBUQUERQUE -- A New Mexico DWI attorney is now on probation after showing up to a court hearing drunk.

A judge ruled Thursday that John Higgins be placed on probation. He must also attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three times a week.

This comes after he was taken into custody for direct contempt of court in July. Officials said he stumbled around drunk in the wrong courtroom for 45 minutes.

If he violates his terms, he could face 30 days in jail.

This is the second-time Higgins has faced alcohol-related charges. In 2009, he was arrested for drunk driving after his car crashed into a curb. Police cameras then recorded Higgins mouthing-off to officers from the back of a police car.

Source: http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s3137308.shtml?cat=516

Mr. Higgins will most likely find out that this is his new office three times a week.........

Alcoholics Anonymous Albuquerque, NM Central Office is located at
1921 Alvarado Drive
Albuquerque, NM 87110
http://www.albuquerqueaa.org/

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

This is great news !!!!!!!!!!

"I welcome all allies in the fight against A.A. hegemony" -Orange

www.expaa.org EXPOSE AA

NA DAYTONA- Violent Criminals Being Mandated to AA and NA Meetings
http://nadaytona.org/alcoholics-anonymous-votes-no-to-protect-members-from...

Orange's picture

This strikes me as being a very important case.
Judge Burrell went out of his way to avoid the actual payment of monetary damages for bad behavior, and he got reversed by the higher court. I'm sure that Judge Burrell knows that money is where the rubber meets the road. It's all just talk, and pretty inconsequential, until the offending state officials and Westcare California Inc. start having to pay large sums of money in damages. Then they will change their behavior fast.

All I can do is smile...

I'll have to send this SacBee article to Judge David Nelson (and others) here in town...

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Hi. I'm Rainbow, and I'm a belligerent savage...

Does anyone know how much this "treatment" was going to cost and who was supposed to pay for it?

Pro Empowerment!

Iamnotastatistic's picture

I agree that this court decision is a good one but what confuses me is why did Hazle even have to take this case to court? Why does the criminal justice system continue to violate constitutional rights in this regard when coerced 12 step attendance has already been ruled unconstitutional in the 9th Circuit?
Back in 2007 the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Inouye v. Kemna, 504 F.3d 705 (9th Cir 2007) stated:
"...was the pertinent Establishment Clause law “clearly established” on this point such that a reasonable official would know that his or her conduct was illegal? Sorrels, 290 F.3d at 969. We find that it was. The vastly overwhelming weight of authority on the precise question in this case held at the time of Nanamori’s actions[2001] that coercing participation in programs of this kind is unconstitutional."
So back in 2007 the 9th Circuit ruled that the action was unconstitutional and that the officials should have known this from as far back as 2001! Then why did the same action occur in 2008 despite the 9th Circuit ruling in 2007 and their opinion that officials should have known about this from 2001 onward?
Why hasn't the system changed?!
What does it take for criminal justice system to change its policies and procedures? How many high level court decisions does it take? Does it require new legislation, directives from state attorneys general? Or can the the system simply ignore the court decisions and continue with the unconstitutional action and fight the occasional cases by Inouye, Hazle, etc., when they occur?
Yes, it's a good decision but what does it achieve if the system doesn't change? What will it take before every defendant in 9th circuit is guaranteed a non religious treatment?