Nevada Law Journal Forum

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In September 2013, an inmate in a Texas prison allegedly spent six days in two uninhabitable cells. One cell was covered in “massive amounts of feces;” the other cell was freezing cold and lacked a sink, a bunk and a toilet, containing only a clogged floor drain for him to relieve himself. Confinement under these abominable conditions were plainly illegal under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Yet, two lower federal courts found, for slightly different reasons, that the inmate had no actionable constitutional claim and that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. Both decisions displayed a lack of common sense and a blatant disregard for the humanity of the particular plaintiff and inmates generally. The Supreme Court’s reversal of the federal courts’ decision should not have been necessary, but was; and the high court’s decision will hopefully spur positive changes in the law regarding confinement conditions and the Eighth Amendment.

Publication Citation

Zamir Ben-Dan, Taylor v. Riojas: Anatomy of a Supreme Court Intervention that Should Not Have Been Necessary, 5 Nev. L.J. Forum 23 (2021).



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