BC Detention Center inmate files suit against jail in federal court

Gregory Mayfield has filed paperwork in Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas alleging ill treatment while an inmate in the Baxter County jail.According to jail records, since Mayfield was last booked into the detention center June 23, he has filed 43 documents where he has spelled out grievances, complained about conditions and the actions or inactions of jail staff.

The allegations in the documents he filed with the court range from the mundane to claims he was assaulted and his life threatened.

Jail staff contends Mayfield tells only part of the story in his court filings.

He has, for example, complained about not being permitted to take a shower, or being prohibited access to the recreation yard when, in fact, Mayfield is alleged to have refused to do both.

Mayfield also alleges water to his cell was shut off for three days, lights were left on all night, and he was supplied a plunger to flush his toilet.

He said jail personnel withheld medicine that could have caused him to lose sight in one of his eyes.

Mayfield’s eye was not injured in jail, but when he was pistol-whipped in a Mountain Home residence

He alleges the things that happened to him in the Baxter County jail add up to cruel and inhuman punishment in violation of the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

He names a number of jail staff as defendants in his filing.

A Conway attorney representing the staff members has filed a general denial of Mayfield’s allegations.

Mayfield’s filing with the federal court is commonly referred to as Section 1983 litigation, since it is based on Section 1983 of the U.S. Code.

Section 1983 permits prisoners to sue correctional officials when conditions of confinement fail to meet constitutional standards in a number of areas — including physical security, medical care and freedom of religious expression.

According to federal court records, Mayfield’s complaint was filed January 20.

Mayfield asked the court to appoint an attorney for him, since he has no funds to hire one. The request was denied, meaning he will either hire an attorney or represent himself.

Inmates acting as their own lawyers handle 96% of Section 1983 litigation, according to a study of the cases being handled in federal district courts in nine states.

There is no constitutional right to an attorney in a civil case such as Mayfield’s.

Although statistics show the chances are slim, there could be an evidentiary hearing, at some point, if the court believes there is sufficient merit to Mayfield’s complaints.

An evidentiary hearing is held in only about 3% of the cases the courts receive on an annual basis.

The case could also be dismissed outright by the court — which is the fate of a large majority of them.

There are thousands of such cases filed yearly — to the point Section 1983 litigation represents a major portion of the caseloads being handled by U.S. District Courts across the country, according to several published studies.

Many of the lawsuits are termed frivolous, having no basis in law or fact. A judge is quoted as saying, Section 1983 litigation is “written by people with too much time on their hands.”

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