Geneseee County Inmates Sue Over Paralegal Visitations

It hasn’t been an easy year for Geneseee County Jail inmates. Back in March, attorney Daniel Manville representing two jail inmates filed a lawsuit against the Detroit U.S. District Court demanding that all inmates receive bottled water in light of Flint’s contaminated water crisis.

On June 28 the lawsuit was settled, forcing Genesseee County Sheriff Robert Pickell to supply bottled water for both drinking and food preparation purposes to the entire jail population until continual testing results proved the jail’s tap water was again safe for consumption. Yet, inmates are now engaged in another legal battle.

Just two days after the safe water settlement was declared, attorney Trachelle Young filed an injunction against the Genessee County Jail with the Flint U.S. District Court to allow inmates to meet with paralegals that have signed authorization from a supervising attorney. It appears that inmates were denied access to paralegals working for the Civil Rights Clinic during the bottled water lawsuit and still struggle for contact.

According to the Flint Journal, on March 4 Manville told Pickell, that the jail would now prevent detainees from meeting with law students and paralegals unless an attorney is present. The clinic is requesting an amendment to the rule so as to allow law students and paralegal to meet with inmates if an attorney condones it and puts the request in writing.

At the time, Genesseee County Jail deputies allegedly banned paralegals from visiting jail inmates because it violated a policy authorizing only attorneys with bar cards to engage in visitation. However, the June 30 lawsuit claims that inmates have a constitutional right to receive paralegal visitations.

In response to the lawsuit, Pickell has expressed a willingness to alter the jail’s current policy to allow qualified paralegals to meet with inmates.