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Scott v. Lawrence

filed*fn*: September 29, 1994.

FLOYD SCOTT, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
RONALD A. LAWRENCE; RICHARD W. SCICLUNA; GILBERT R. HUDSON; AND JEAN RUPERT, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California,. D.C. No. CV-89-0135-JFM. John F. Moulds, Magistrate Judge, Presiding.

Before: Betty B. Fletcher and Stephen S. Trott, Circuit Judges, and Samuel P. King,*fn** District Judge. Opinion by Judge King; Concurrence by Judge Trott.

Author: King

KING, District Judge:

California state prisoner Floyd Scott appeals pro se the district court's denial, following a jury trial, of his 42 U.S.C. 1983 civil action against prison officials Ronald A. Lawrence, Jean Rupert, Richard W. Scicluna and Gilbert R. Hudson, alleging cruel and unusual punishment when the officials physically restrained Scott after he attacked one of the defendant officials. Scott contends that: (1) the district court erred in informing the jury on voir dire that Scott had two prior convictions for rape and sexual assault; (2) there was insufficient evidence to support the jury verdict in favor of the prison officials; (3) the district court erred in admitting statements by defendant Lawrence concerning the restriction against Scott's contact visits with his children; and (4) the jury was tainted. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and reverse and remand.

I.

On December 31, 1989, Scott and co-inmate Thomas went to the dining room hall at the New Folsom prison in Sacramento to see appellee Lawrence. Lawrence supervised inmates, including Scott and Thomas, in the dining room hall kitchen.

It was Scott's day off, but he and Thomas went to the dining room to get information from Lawrence regarding the amount of money in his inmate trust account. In the past, Lawrence had gotten such information for Scott as a favor. Thomas first asked Lawrence about his trust account balance following his having worked during the month of December. While Thomas asked Lawrence about his trust account balance, Scott, who had been hiding behind the door, jumped out and said "Boo, guess who's here." Lawrence, surprised, told both Thomas and Scott that he could not help them because the trust office was closed, and that he would get the information for them during the next week. Lawrence then told Thomas and Scott that they were out of bounds, and that they had to leave. Neither inmate heeded Lawrence's order to leave, and both continued to ask about their accounts.

After giving the inmates six unheeded orders to leave, Lawrence told them that he was going to escort them out of the area. Thomas started to leave, but Scott did not. Scott was facing Lawrence and he had begun to speak very loudly and was very agitated. Lawrence then heard a noise in the kitchen, and as he turned his head to see what the matter was, Scott hit him on the side of the head. Lawrence was stunned but managed to grab Scott. Officer Rupert responded to help and grabbed Scott. Both officers attempted to get Scott to the ground so he could be handcuffed.

Officer Scicluna then came to assist, and used a leg trip to get Scott to the ground. Scott, Lawrence and Rupert fell in a heap. The three officers wrestled with Scott, trying to get his hands in a position for handcuffing. An alarm then sounded and Officer Hudson responded to help. Hudson grabbed Scott's hands to get them in position for handcuffing. As he did, Scott bit him on the hand. Hudson then punched Scott in the face twice. Scott then ceased struggling and was placed in handcuffs.

On January 30, 1989, Scott filed his complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant's motion for summary judgment was denied on November 7, 1990. Both parties consented to have the matter tried by Magistrate Judge John F. Moulds. The case came on for jury trial on May 21, 1992, and the jury returned a defense verdict on May 22, 1992. This appeal followed.

II.

Scott first argues that he was prejudiced by the court's revelation of his two prior rape and sexual assault convictions before the jury on voir dire. We agree.

On May 21, 1992, prior to trial, defense counsel advised the court in chambers that it would seek to introduce appellant's prior convictions into evidence for purposes of impeachment.*fn1 Neither Scott nor defense counsel sought any proposed voir dire questions regarding the prior convictions or the nature of the offenses leading to the convictions. The ...


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