BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge is scolding attorneys in a lawsuit alleging understaffing and mismanagement at a private Idaho prison, warning both sides that they need to play nice or risk losing their case.
U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge wrote in an order Wednesday that attorneys for private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America and attorneys representing a group of inmates at the CCA-run Idaho Correctional Center have refused to interact with each other reasonably and civilly.
Lodge says he considered lots of ways to make them get along, but decided against ordering the attorneys to play a game of "rock, paper, scissors" on the courthouse steps — a measure that was taken by another frustrated judge in a separate case out of Florida in 2006. Instead, Lodge is sending them to mediation, where they must try to resolve all their pending disputes over what evidence they must share and other pretrial issues.
"Many of the motions and briefs filed by both parties are full of hyperbole and include unfounded accusations against opposing counsel," Lodge wrote in his order sending the sides to mediation. "... In participating in the conference, all counsel shall act reasonably."
The judge ended with a stern warning: "Counsel are reminded that discovery abuses are grounds for the imposition of sanctions, up to and including dismissal or default judgment," Lodge wrote.
Neither CCA's attorneys nor the inmates' attorneys immediately responded to requests for comment on the order from The Associated Press.
CCA runs the prison south of Boise under a $29 million contract with the Idaho Department of Correction. A group of eight inmates at the facility filed the lawsuit in 2012, contending that poor management and chronic understaffing led to an attack in which they were jumped, stabbed and beaten by members of a prison gang. CCA has denied the inmates' claims and says safety at the prison is a top priority for the Nashville, Tenn.-based company.