Federal appeals court rejects suit filed by inmate who implicated Quayle in drug sale
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In early October the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington (D.C. Cir.) ruled that the government officials accused of silencing a federal prisoner who claimed he sold marijuana to Dan Quayle are entitled to summary judgment on the prisoner’s First Amendment claims.
Four days before the 1988 presidential election, Michael J. Quinlan, the director of the Bureau of Prisons, canceled a press conference arranged for the prisoner, Brett Kimberlin, and ordered that Kimberlin be placed in administrative detention.
Kimberlin then scheduled a telephone interview for the day before Election Day with journalists gathered at a Washington hotel. Before the interview could take place, however, Kimberlin was locked in an administrative detention cell, where he remained for seven days. He was not permitted to call the press.
In July 1990 Kimberlin filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against Quinlan, a Justice Department official, and the United States, claiming that they had violated his First Amendment and other rights. When the district court refused to award the defendants summary judgment on Kimberlin’s First Amendment claims, they appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington (D.C. Cir.).
In a 2-1 opinion in early October, the appeals court concluded that the officials had qualified immunity from Kimberlin’s claims, because the prisoner’s pleadings presented only circumstantial evidence of the officials’ unconstitutional intent, rather than direct evidence such as a confession.
The dissenting judge pointed out that circumstantial evidence may be enough to prove a case, and that no other circuit court of appeals requires plaintiffs like Kimberlin to plead direct evidence.
(Kimberlin v. Quinlan; Counsel: Howard T. Rosenblatt, Washington, D.C.)