Pittman v. Madison County

In 2007, Pittman, a pretrial detainee in the Madison County, Illinois, jail, hanged himself in his cell. He did not die, but he sustained brain damage that has left him in a vegetative state, cared for entirely by his mother with no government benefits. Pittman left a suicide note in which he said that he was killing himself because the guards were “fucking” with him by not letting him see crisis counselors. In a suit under the Eighth Amendment, the district court granted defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed as to two guards. A jury then returned a verdict in favor of both defendants. The Seventh Circuit vacated. Another inmate, Banovz, stated that in the five days preceding Pittman’s suicide attempt, the guards ignored Pittman’s requests to see the crisis staff. Three hours after the suicide attempt a county detective obtained a 25-minute interview with Banovz about the attempt, which was captured on video. The video was not admitted at trial, even though Banovz’s testimony was the lynchpin of the plaintiff’s case and the defendants had stipulated to the showing of the video. While Banovz testified at trial, the passage of seven years had dimmed his recollection and his demeanor at trial was notably different from his demeanor in the video. The court stated it had “no assurance that Pittman’s claim was fairly tried.” View "Pittman v. Madison County" on Justia Law