Twenty years ago, Johnny killed his wife in a fit of rage when he came home one night and saw her in bed with another man. Based on the mandatory sentencing guidelines at the time of his conviction, Johnny was sentenced to life in prison without any opportunity for parole.
For the past 20 years, Johnny has been a model prisoner. He finished his college degree and worked as a cook in the prison kitchen. One day, a fight in the mess hall between two other prisoners resulted in the death of one prisoner and several injuries to prison guards. At the time, Johnny was working in the kitchen and took no role in the fight.
After the fight, the warden of the prison imposed a series of punishments. First, the warden ordered a 24-hour lockdown of the prison. This lockdown lasted 10 days, during which prisoners were not allowed out of their cells.
Second, the warden ordered that prisoners be deprived of all “treats” including adult magazines, reading materials, caffeinated sodas, candy, and desserts; visiting privileges for all prisoners were halted for one year.
Finally, and perhaps worst, the warden decided to isolate the most violent prisoners for an extended period. Because of Johnny’s murder conviction, the warden ordered Johnny to serve six months in solitary confinement.
After doing his time in solitary, Johnny filed an internal complaint with the warden. In his complaint, Johnny argued that the warden’s punitive measures violated his Eighth Amendment rights. The warden denied Johnny’s complaint and Johnny then filed a complaint in the federal court.
If your last name starts with A – L, please argue this case on the part of Johnny. Show, using case law and other legal arguments, how the warden’s measures constituted violations of the Eighth Amendment.
If your last name starts with M – Z, please represent the warden, who is most likely represented by the government. Show, using case law and other legal arguments, how the warden’s measures did not constitute violations of the Eighth Amendment.
***Please note that the Week 7 Content section contains review of the case law relevant to this discussion so please be sure to review that material. ***
Have fun with this! Be strong advocates for your clients but be sure to use the law to support your position, not simply opinions.
Please note that your answers have nothing to do with your personal feelings, thoughts or experiences with these issues. Your answers are to be based purely on the law, specifically precedent set by case law. Reviewing the Week 7 Content will be very helpful to you in finding relevant case law.