Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 6 (2002)

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

Opinion of the Court

day while the sun burned his skin.2 He remained attached to the post for approximately seven hours. During this 7-hour period, he was given water only once or twice and was given no bathroom breaks.3 At one point, a guard taunted Hope about his thirst. According to Hope's affidavit: "[The guard] first gave water to some dogs, then brought the water cooler closer to me, removed its lid, and kicked the cooler over, spilling the water onto the ground." App. 11.

Hope filed suit under Rev. Stat. 1979, 42 U. S. C. 1983, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama against three guards involved in the May incident, one of whom also handcuffed him to the hitching post in June. The case was referred to a Magistrate Judge who treated the responsive affidavits filed by the defendants as a motion for summary judgment. Without deciding whether "the very act of placing him on a restraining bar for a period of hours as a form of punishment" had violated the Eighth Amendment, the Magistrate concluded that the guards were entitled to qualified immunity.4 Supplemental App. to Pet. for Cert. 21. The District Court agreed, and entered judgment for respondents.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. 240 F. 3d 975 (2001). Before reaching the

2 "The most repeated complaint of the hitching post, however, was the strain it produced on inmates' muscles by forcing them to remain in a standing position with their arms raised in a stationary position for a long period of time. In addition to their exposure to sunburn, dehydration, and muscle aches, the inmates are also placed in substantial pain when the sun heats the handcuffs that shackle them to the hitching post, or heats the hitching post itself. Several of the inmates described the way in which the handcuffs burned and chafed their skin during their placement on the post." Id., at 1248.

3 The Court of Appeals noted that respondents had not produced any activity log for this incident, despite the policy that required that such a log be maintained. 240 F. 3d, at 977, n. 1.

4 Supplemental App. to Pet. for Cert. 21-27.


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