Update: November 28, 2022- VICTORY
On November 28, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in favor of the late Angelo Clark, who despite having serious and known mental health issues, was placed in solitary confinement by Department of Correction (DOC) officials for seven months while housed in a Delaware prison.
The court ruled Clark successfully alleged that prison officials at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, DE, violated Clark’s Eighth Amendment right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. Importantly, the court also found officials were not protected by qualified immunity. After a lengthy appeal process, this decision marks a consequential victory not only for Clark’s family, who continue to serve as Mr. Clark’s personal representative after his passing in January 2022, but also for the rights of the many other incarcerated individuals.
Update: March 31, 2022
Oral arguments, handled by the ACLU of Delaware, took place on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. A recording of those oral arguments is available on the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's website.
ACLU of Delaware Legal Director Susan Burke wrote the briefs for this matter, with the assistance of co-counsel Chad Stover of Barnes & Thornburg and Michael Broadbent of Cozen O’Connor.
Update: February 2, 2022
Angelo Clark, who lived with serious mental illnesses, was placed in solitary confinement by Department of Correction (DOC) officials for seven months while he was housed in a Delaware prison. This violation of his Constitutional rights caused severe and irreversible harm to Clark, who passed away before he was able to finish his fight for justice.
At trial, the Court erroneously dismissed his claim that the extended solitary confinement violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Among other reasons, the trial court held that the DOC officials enjoyed qualified immunity — meaning that they were immune from accountability.
Before he passed away in January 2022, Clark appealed this dismissal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The ACLU of Delaware, in coordination with Barnes & Thornburg LLP and Cozen O’Connor, are moving forward with Mr. Clark’s case this week, seeking justice for the late Mr. Clark and attempting to abolish the excessive use of solitary confinement, especially for people with mental health issues.
Oral arguments, handled by the ACLU of Delaware, took place on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. A recording of those oral arguments are available on the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's website.
Dwayne J. Bensing of ACLU Delaware, Chad S.C. Stover of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, and Michael J Broadbent of Coven O'Connor are prosecuting Mr. Clark's appeal before the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The panel for this case are Judges Fuentes, Restrepo, and Roth. Four amici have filed briefs in support.