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Michigan DOC Cases Alleging Juvenile Sex Abuse Move Forward in Courts

MDOC cellblockFirm attorneys continue their efforts to obtain justice and monetary and injunctive relief in a class action brought in 2013 against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). Doe vs. MDOC, filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, involves a class of juveniles who have suffered sexual harassment by adult prisoners and guards while incarcerated in adult facilities by the MDOC. [caption id="attachment_1381" align="alignright" width="200"]Beth Rivers Bio Photo Mar. 2015 PMP&R Partner Beth Rivers[/caption] "Despite the state's efforts to delay and ultimately deny any consideration of the merits of the claims through dozens of dispositive motions and interlocutory appeals, the case is moving forward on several fronts," said attorney Beth Rivers. The Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that the Court of Appeals had erred in deciding the issue of whether the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act protected prisoners from discrimination. The case was remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings. According to Rivers, a companion case filed in federal court in 2013 also remains active. In that case, the plaintiffs (on behalf of a class of youth incarcerated in adult prisons) allege that the incarceration of juveniles in adult prisons violates their constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, denies them due process and equal protection afforded by the 14th Amendment. The state has also sought to deny the class members a hearing on the merits of this case, but those efforts have been unsuccessful. "Unfortunately, after these lawsuits were filed, the youth who had been brave enough to come forward and report and challenge sexual abuse of youth in adult prisons began to experience retaliation from MDOC officials," said Rivers. Rivers said the retaliation included MDOC officials identifying youths making reports to staff and other prisoners resulting in further abuse and retaliation. "In response to the continuing abuse of these innocent juveniles by MDOC officials, we've filed another lawsuit alleging retaliation in violation of the plaintiffs' First Amendment right to file litigation and complain about the conditions of their confinement," said Rivers. The state is using the same delay tactics, according to Rivers, and has responded to the complaint with a motion for summary judgment. That motion is pending. The legal team remains hopeful that the State will eventually be forced to answer and take responsibility for the department's policy of housing youth in adult prisons, which resulted in severe sexual abuse and harassment of the youths by adult prisoners and MDOC staff.

Palmer Named as 2014 'Leader in the Law'

Michigan Lawyers Weekly has chosen Pitt McGehee Rivers & Palmer Partner Robert Palmer as one of 30 lawyers in the state named to the “Leaders in the Law” Class of 2014. Chosen from dozens of nominations, Palmer and 2014 Leaders were viewed...

McGehee Elected to MSU College of Law Board of Trustees

Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers Partner Cary McGehee has been elected to the Michigan State University College of Law Board of Trustees. Michigan State University College of Law is an independent, non-profit corporation. Its affairs are managed by...

Pitt Crew Adds to Community Service Tradition

The Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers "Pitt Crew" added to their long standing tradition of serving in the community by again pitching in to lend support to the St. Peters Episcopal Church Manna Community Meal Soup Kitchen over the holidays.  An...

Pitt McGehee Rolls Up its Sleeves to Help Soup Kitchen

Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers & Golden, which has never been shy about finding community work that needs to be done, grabbed its staff in October and traveled to St. Peter's Episcopal Church's Soup Kitchen. The firm made sandwiches and served food...

Bonanni Files Suit Against Adult Night Club Owner

Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers & Golden Partner Megan Bonanni has filed a class action lawsuit in Federal Court in Detroit on behalf of three current and former exotic dancers against nightclubs owned by Alan Markovitz. You can read the story...

Pitt's Brown Defense Gets Attention of Oakland Press

Michigan's gay marriage case got another summary from the Oakland Press on October 16, which included an interview with Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers & Golden Partner, Michael Pitt. In the article, Michael discussed his legal defense of Oakland...

Michael Pitt Honored by WSU Law School

[caption id="attachment_653" align="alignleft" width="270"] Wayne State University Law School Dean Jocelyn Benson, right, presents Huntington Woods resident and lawyer Michael Pitt, (far left with wife Peggy) with an award Sept. 28 during the 2013...

Palmer Featured in Legal News Profile

Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers & Golden Partner Robert Palmer was featured in a Legal News profile written by Sheila Pursglove who focused on his childhood dream of becoming and attorney and the path that took him to where he is now. You can read...

McGehee Featured on NPR's All Things Considered

Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers & Golden Partner Cary McGehee was interviewed by NPR host Jennifer White in a feature aired on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" August 20 to discuss how she is hoping that a federal ruling will...