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Long Road In Prisoners' Rights Case Reaches Supreme Court


It's been a long road for Mayer Brown in prisoners' rights case Ross v. Blake; the firm's been involved pro bono since the trial level, and handled the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The lawyers stopped for a picture on the Supreme Court steps after Supreme Court & Appellate practice partner Paul Hughes (third from left) argued the case before SCOTUS.

Surrounding Paul are former litigation associate Scott Claffee, litigation partner Reg Goeke, former litigation associate Scott Noveck, litigation associate John Lewis, and Supreme Court & Appellate practice partner Michael Kimberly. Reg served as second chair in the Supreme Court, and he and Scott Claffee tried the case at the District Court; Scott Noveck argued in the Fourth Circuit. John and Michael assisted Paul with the Supreme Court briefs.

The Supreme Court is considering whether Maryland had an administrative remedy process “available” to certain inmates in compliance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act—or whether its procedures were so confusing that they were not available whatsoever.

The matter started in '07 when Shaidon Blake was assaulted by a prison guard while handcuffed and being moved between prison cells. Blake filed an action against the prison guards under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 and the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. In 2010, Mayer Brown was appointed by the district court to represent him, and at trial won a judgment against one of the defendants for $50k. The case eventually made its way to the Fourth Circuit, which found in Mayer Brown's favor, and the State filed a cert petition, which was granted.