My pet project this spring is to investigate prison conditions in the brigs and at Leavenworth. Hopefully next week I will be receiving the results of a FOIA request for all Article 138 complaints at the Marine Corps Brigs. My motivation was the seemingly black box of the prisons, and a series of ACCA opinions dispensing with conditions of confinement claims in footnotes (without any reference to the basis for the claim).
Thus, I want to commend AFCCA for the below opinion (download below) in Merritt. The prisoner in this case has a very weak claim for an Eighth Amendment violation--a failure to provide sterile water for his CPAP machine. Nevertheless, the court engaged in an extensive analysis of the relevant law and decided the case. The legal discussion alone was very helpful as a guide for practitioners. The dissenting judge also raised important issues with the various doctrinal bars to relief in this area. The most significant bar, of course, is the administrative exhaustion requirement. A crusty CPAP machine does not cry out to heaven for redress, but that is not the point. The point is that the same difficulties in getting relief for this claim apply also to serious claims (at least with respect to exhaustion).
-Current Term Opinions
Joint R. App. Pro.
Global MJ Reform
LOC Mil. Law