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Supreme Court of the United States
November 16, 2020, Decided
[*57] [**415] Application to vacate stay presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court denied.
Dissent by: SOTOMAYOR
Justice Sotomayor, with whom Justice Kagan joins, dissenting from the denial of application to vacate stay.
I write again about the Wallace Pack Unit (Pack Unit), a geriatric prison in southeast Texas that has been ravaged by COVID-19. See Valentine v. Collier, 590 U. S. ___, 140 S. Ct. 1598, 206 L. Ed. 2d 930 (2020) (statement respecting denial of application to vacate stay). The Pack Unit is a “‘tinderbox’” for COVID-19, not only because it is a dormitory-style facility, “making social distancing in the living quarters impossible,” but also because the [*58] vast majority of its inmates are at least 65 years old, and many suffer from chronic health conditions and disabilities. Valentine v. Collier, 455 F. Supp. 3d 308, 322, 325 (SD Tex. 2020). These inmates are some of the most vulnerable in the country to the current pandemic.
COVID-19 was first detected in the Pack Unit in April 2020, after one inmate, Leonard Clerkly, contracted the virus and [**416] died. Id., at 312. Since then, over 500 inmates have tested positive (more than 40% of the inmate population), and 19 more have died. See 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178652, 2020 WL 5797881, *7, *29 (SD Tex., Sept. 29, 2020). The Pack Unit’s 20 deaths account for 12% of [***2] all confirmed and presumed deaths from COVID-19 in the entire Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prison system. See Tex. Dept. of Criminal Justice, COVID-19 Dashboard, https://www.tdcj.texas.gov/covid-19/mac_dashboard.html.
In July, the District Court held a weeks-long trial that revealed rampant failures by the prison to protect its inmates from COVID-19. In September, the District Court entered a permanent injunction requiring prison officials to implement basic safety procedures. The Fifth Circuit, however, stayed the injunction pending appeal. Now, two inmates, Laddy Valentine and Richard King, ask this Court to vacate the stay. Because they have met their burden to justify such relief, I would grant the application.
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141 S. Ct. 57 *; 208 L. Ed. 2d 415 **; 2020 U.S. LEXIS 5612 ***; 89 U.S.L.W. 3163; 28 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 600; 2020 WL 6704453
Laddy Curtis Valentine, et al., Applicants v. Bryan Collier, Executive Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, et al.
Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.
Subsequent History: As Revised November 17, 2020.
Prior History: [***1] ON APPLICATION TO VACATE STAY
Valentine v. Collier, 978 F.3d 154, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 32325 (5th Cir. Tex., Oct. 13, 2020)
inmates, injunction, grievance, cleaning, prison, outbreak, testing, deliberate indifference, prison official, exhaustion, wearing, cases, virus, TDCJ, distancing, measures, vacate, dorms, staff, steps