Friday, April 29, 2011

A Little Bad, A Little Good

Two recent developments in the case the ACLU has against CCA for their operation of the Idaho Correctional Center seem rather noteworthy, imho. First, CCA was successful in getting the judge assigned to the case to recuse himself from the case over a procedural issue that really shouldn't have been an issue. Essentially, because the judge instructed a clerk to seek pro bono assistance for the prisoners at the facility (assistance which came in the form of the ACLU), CCA argued this amounted to conflict of interest. It didn't, and in fact it's pretty common legal practice. Anyway, this sets a dangerous precedent for class action cases in which under-served populations seek to sue large corporations to redress harms they've suffered. This could dissuade judges from assisting in setting up legal representation for people who have been abused by corporations and their greed, which runs counter to any realistic theory of justice.

However, not every development in the case is so dire. CCA just recently lost a bid to have the (new) judge pass a sweeping gag order in the case, which would have prevented much of the information about the horrific abuses perpetrated on the prisoners from being discussed in the media. CCA was essentially looking to keep the details of the sadistic actions of their employees hidden from the public during the course of the trial. The AP scored a point for freedom of the press on this one.

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