NATIONAL NEWS

Supreme Court denies California’s appeal for immunity for COVID-19 deaths at San Quentin prison

May 13, 2024, 4:53 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal from California corrections officials who sought immunity from lawsuits claiming they acted with deliberate indifference when they caused a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at one of the world’s most famous prisons four years ago.

The justices turned down the appeal without comment or dissent.

The lawsuit stemmed from the botched transfer of infected inmates in May 2020 from a Southern California prison to San Quentin, which at the time had no infections. The coronavirus then quickly sickened 75% of inmates at the prison north of San Francisco, leading to the deaths of 28 inmates and a correctional officer.

California now faces four lawsuits from the relatives of those who died as well as from inmates and staff who were infected but survived.

“The state has had its due process all the way to the Supreme Court. They’re not getting off on a technicality,” Michael J. Haddad, an attorney for the families, said in a statement following the high court’s decision. “Now it’s time to face the facts. Prison administrators killed 29 people in what the 9th Circuit called a ‘textbook case’ of deliberate indifference.”

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Monday that it does not comment on active legal proceedings.

Prison officials “ignored virtually every safety measure” in making the transfers, Marin County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Howard wrote in a 2021 tentative ruling in the case.

In 2021, California workplace safety regulators hit San Quentin with a $421,880 fine, one of the largest pandemic-related penalties against an employer.

State Sen. Mike McGuire, who represents the San Quentin area, called the deaths “completely avoidable” and said the transfer never should have happened. “I don’t say this lightly, but this is a failure of leadership,” McGuire said during a 2020 Senate oversight hearing.

Lawyers for the state have maintained prison officials took numerous steps to try to protect inmates from infection, including temporarily reducing the population of the state’s oldest prison by 40%, short of the 50% recommended in June 2020 by health experts.

Prison officials said the botched transfer itself was a flawed but well-intentioned effort to move 121 vulnerable inmates away from an outbreak at the California Institution for Men in Chino.

National News

Associated Press

More severe weather forecast in Midwest as Iowa residents clean up tornado damage

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — The skies were blue and the wind was blowing as residents of the small city of Greenfield, Iowa, worked to clean up two days after a destructive tornado ripped apart more than 100 homes in just one minute, took the lives of four residents and injured at least 35 more. All […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Ohio governor calls special session to pass legislation ensuring President Biden is on 2024 ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that he is calling a special session of the General Assembly next week to pass legislation ensuring President Joe Biden is on the state’s 2024 ballot. “Ohio is running out of time to get Joe Biden, the sitting President of the United States, on […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. California’s law is meant to circumvent an Arizona law — first passed in 1864 — that bans nearly all abortions in that state. The Arizona Supreme Court had ruled that […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge says $475,000 award in New Hampshire youth center abuse case would be ‘miscarriage of justice’

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The judge who oversaw a landmark trial over abuse at New Hampshire’s youth detention center says capping the verdict at $475,000 as the state proposes would be an “unconscionable miscarriage of justice.” In a lengthy order issued Wednesday, Judge Andrew Schulman outlined five options for addressing the dispute that arose after […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Those who helped file voting fraud allegations are protected from suit, North Carolina justices say

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a defamation lawsuit against attorneys who assisted voters with submitting some 2016 ballot complaints, saying the fraud allegations they helped make were broadly protected within the protest process. The 5-0 ruling overturns the decision of a lower appeals court that determined only […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A northern Arizona man was convicted in a jury trial Thursday of first-degree murder and other crimes in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son. Authorities say the boy was locked in a tiny bedroom closet for 16 hours a day over a month with his older brother as punishment […]

12 hours ago

Supreme Court denies California’s appeal for immunity for COVID-19 deaths at San Quentin prison