Judge renews order in prison inmate’s lawsuit for more exercise time

FILE - In this April 15, 2015, file photo, is High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs, Nev....
FILE - In this April 15, 2015, file photo, is High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)(John Locher | AP)
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 1:08 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A federal judge has renewed her court order in a case filed by a prison inmate who said that he wasn’t receiving enough outdoor exercise time at the facility.

In a June 6 order, Judge Cristina D. Silva renewed her preliminary injunction and also ordered that counsel be appointed for the plaintiff, Jesse Aron Ross, who is serving a life sentence at High Desert State Prison. An injunction that went into effect on March 3 mandated that Ross be provided with at least seven hours of access to outdoor exercise per week.

Defendants admitted that they were not complying with the order due to staffing shortages at the prison. At a June 2 hearing, some of them provided additional testimony that the judge felt “demonstrate that the staffing shortage at HDSP is not temporary and that ongoing constitutional violations—at least, in the form of inmates being denied outdoor exercise—are likely to continue.”

Because preliminary injunctive relief automatically expires 90 days after entry, Judge Silva renewed the prior injunction. The judge noted that the prison is currently “woefully understaffed” as it seeks to fill 128 vacant positions.

The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee legal counsel in a civil case like this one, but the judge elected to appoint one for Ross in this case.

“I already found a likelihood of success on the merits of Ross’s lawsuit when I issued my order granting a preliminary injunction,” Silva wrote in her June 6 filing. “While Ross has demonstrated a rather impressive ability to articulate his claims pro se thus far, I find that the complexity and scope of the legal issues involved and those that could arise in the natural course of this litigation warrant the appointment of counsel for Ross.”

The judge’s order renewed the injunction for another 75 days from June 2, ordering that Ross be allowed seven hours of outdoor exercise time per week.