NINTH CIRCUIT UPHOLDS LBAC JURY VERDICT IN FAVOR OF ORANGE COUNTY IN JAIL SVP CASE

On September 28, 2015, the Ninth Circuit issued an Opinion in favor of Orange County in an SVP case alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Rhoden v. County of Orange et. al, Case No. SACV08-00420 MWF (SSx). Plaintiff was a repeated sex offender, and had been convicted of a series of rapes he committed in California and Tennessee in the 1980s. After completing his criminal sentence, he was detained at Coalinga State Hospital awaiting trial of his civil commitment pursuant to the SVPA (Welfare & Institution Code §§ 6600 et seq.). In the civil lawsuit, Plaintiff alleged that he was subjected to various punitive and retaliatory treatment by Deputies at the Orange County Men’s Jail while housed there from April 2004 until April 2006. After a jury trial and unanimous verdict in favor of all County Defendants in December 2012, Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the District Court improperly granted summary judgment on his claims that jail staff withheld his legal mail, transferred him to a smaller cell in retaliation for filing grievances and the civil rights complaint, and confiscated his legal documents which impeded his right to access the courts by hindering his civil rights claims. In addition, Plaintiff argued that the District Court abused its discretion by allowing evidence at trial of his prior convictions and SVP status.