Willkie Wins Pro Bono Appeal for Inmate Challenging Prison Restrictions

February 28, 2022

The 9th Circuit reversed the lower court’s dismissal of case over race-based restrictions at a California prison.

On February 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit partially reversed and remanded a case in favor of Willkie client Mr. E, an inmate challenging temporary restrictions that were placed on inmates at a California state prison in July 2010 and February 2011.

The panel reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment against Mr. E on his claim that the prison warden violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by imposing restrictions on him based on an improper racial classification. The appeals court ruled that the prison warden failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish a link between the perpetrators of an assault and the risk of violence from all inmates of a particular race that would justify the imposed restrictions.

At the close of oral argument, the panel commended appellant counsel associate Tiffany Lin and Willkie’s pro bono practice for their efforts on behalf of Mr. E.

The 9th Circuit remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California for further proceedings on Mr. E’s equal protection claim.

The Willkie pro bono team was led by associate Tiffany Lin and included partner Ben Hur and associates Ferdinand Suba Jr. and Ari Blask.