Supreme Court Says Inmate Stabbed After Warning Nebraska Prison Officials Of Danger He Could Not Prosecute State | national news



The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state was not prosecuted for placing an inmate in the same accommodation as his brother’s killer, a decision that ultimately resulted in him being stabbed in his cell.

But in fiery dissent, Judge Lindsey Miller-Lerman said, in her opinion, “the majority continues to retreat.”

Cameron williams

In the majority’s reasoning, she said, the state can indeed promote a “inmate cage match” and be immune from prosecution if the expected assault ensues.

“This is how it works in current Nebraska case law: State actors can be dangerously negligent with impunity and immunity if a non-state actor later commits an expected assault,” Miller-Lerman wrote.

She called it “judicial enlargement beyond the text of the law” and “usurpation of legislative power”.

Friday’s ruling came in Cameron Williams’ case against the Nebraska Department of Corrections and Principal Scott Frakes. But this was just the latest in a string of cases where Miller-Lerman has found himself at odds with fellow judges.

The lawsuit alleged that while Williams was serving time for second degree murder, Jonathan Armendariz began serving time in 2011 for killing Williams’ brother.

Corrections knew that Armendariz and the other inmates associated with him posed a threat to Williams, and he was placed on a “keep away” list.

Despite this and assurances given to Williams’ mother that they would not be housed together, Armendariz was transferred to Tecumseh Prison where Williams was serving his sentence and, on May 25, 2018, was moved to his housing unit.

Fearing that he would be assaulted or killed, Williams assaulted Armendariz. He was eventually transferred to the State Penitentiary, where two inmates entered his cell and repeatedly stabbed him in what was believed to be retaliation for Tecumseh’s assault.

In 2019, Williams sued. The state decided to dismiss the case, and Lancaster County District Judge Lori Maret allowed the petition in July 2020, and Williams appealed.

In Friday’s ruling, the majority agreed with Maret’s ruling, which concluded that Williams’ case was excluded from sovereign immunity because it resulted from multiple layers of bodily harm.

“Our cases interpreting and applying the intentional tort exception have consistently barred claims like the one alleged by Williams,” the majority wrote.

They cited their recent ruling in a lawsuit brought by the family of Terry Berry Jr., an inmate placed with murderer Patrick Schroeder, who killed him; and in another trial where a woman held hostage and sexually assaulted by a former boyfriend alleged the county was negligent in handling a series of 911 calls.

In these and other cases, the High Court said prosecution was prohibited because it resulted from an underlying assault.

Following the ruling in the case filed by Berry’s family, the justices jointly said the legislature has begun to consider proposed changes to the wording of the law.

“This public policy debate in the Legislature is ongoing, and this tribunal should allow it to develop without being hampered by judicial rhetoric urging a particular legislative outcome,” they said.

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