Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 4 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 730 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

chael Fisher of Pennsylvania, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Mark L. Shurtleff of Utah, and Darrell V. McGraw, Jr., of West Virginia.*

Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit concluded that petitioner Larry Hope, a former prison inmate at the Limestone Prison in Alabama, was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment when prison guards twice handcuffed him to a hitching post to sanction him for disruptive conduct. Because that conclusion was not supported by earlier cases with "materially similar" facts, the court held that the respondents were entitled to qualified immunity, and therefore affirmed summary judgment in their favor. We granted certiorari to determine whether the Court of Appeals' qualified immunity holding comports with our decision in United States v. Lanier, 520 U. S. 259 (1997).


In 1995, Alabama was the only State that followed the practice of chaining inmates to one another in work squads. It was also the only State that handcuffed prisoners to "hitching posts" if they either refused to work or otherwise disrupted work squads.1 Hope was handcuffed to a hitching

*Mark R. Brown, James K. Green, and Steven R. Shapiro filed a brief for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. as amici curiae urging reversal.

1 In its review of the summary judgment, the Court of Appeals viewed the facts in the light most favorable to Hope, the nonmoving party. 240 F. 3d 975, 977 (CA11 2001) (case below). We do the same. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U. S. 194, 201 (2001). The Court of Appeals also referenced facts established in Austin v. Hopper, 15 F. Supp. 2d 1210 (MD Ala. 1998). 240 F. 3d, at 978, n. 6. This was appropriate because Austin is a class-action suit brought by Alabama prisoners, including Hope, and the District Court opinion in that case discusses Hope's allegations at some length. 15 F. Supp. 2d, at 1247-1248. In their summary judgment papers, both Hope and respondents referenced the findings in Austin, and thus those


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