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Trial Coverage: Week One

Feb. 10, 2012: Steve J. Martin spent three days testifying for the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit about conditions in the S.C. prison system for inmates with mental health issues. Martin has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Correctional Administration as well as a Juris Doctorate. In addition to serving as a corrections officer, he has served as chief of staff and attorney for the director of the Texas prison system, during which time he was in charge of all class action litigation and was special assistant to the attorney general as well as helped develop a private prison system. Read more...

Feb. 9, 2012: Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, a nationally recognized forensic psychiatrist, testified that, according to the S.C. Department of Corrections' own internal audit, 40 percent of their mental health counselors do not have adequate credentials to perform necessary services for those with serious mental illnesses.  Read more...

Feb. 8, 2012: Dr. Jeffrey Metzner continued his testimony in day three of the trial. Dr. Metzner, a nationally recognized forensic psychiatrist (see bio in left panel under Expert Opinions), conducted inspections at several South Carolina prisons during 2008 and 2010 (See Reports of Site Inspections, left panel). He testified to the conditions he observed. He specifically discussed the national standards on restraint use and the potentially fatal dangers of improper use. The lawsuit alleges that inmates who exhibit suicidal or self-destructive behavior are not always given immediate clinical attention, but instead may be beaten, gassed, and placed in restraint chairs for extended periods of time. During Dr. Metzner's inspections, he said he observed a lack of access to adequate, continuous, and frequent counseling for South Carolina inmates. 

Court reconvenes at 9:30 a.m. Thursday with the cross-examination of Dr. Metzner by defense attorneys for the S.C. Department of Corrections.

Feb. 7, 2012: Opening arguments were heard Tuesday from attorneys. Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, an expert on mental health issues in prison settings, was the first witness called by the plaintiffs. Dr. Metzner is expected to continue his testimony when proceedings resume at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012.

Feb. 6, 2012: Motions were heard Monday on the first day of trial in the lawsuit filed by Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, on behalf of inmates with serious mental health needs, against the S.C. Department of Corrections. Ten formal motions were heard and decided. Opening arguments are expected to begin Tuesday, Feb. 7, in Courtroom 2A of the Richland County Courthouse at 1701 Main St., Columbia, S.C. Proceedings resume at 9:30 a.m.