State Supreme Court upholds dismissal of prisoner lawsuit

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday said Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis was correct when she dismissed a complaint filed by an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Corrections against four correctional officers.

The complaint, filed by Kenneth Ray Pitts, 58, alleged excessive use of force, failure to protect, negligence and due process and equal protection violations by officers Lewis Rafter, Eddie Knight, Russell Meadows and Sgt. Michael Richardson.

Pitts was convicted of second-degree sexual assault and sexual indecency with a child as a habitual offender in Pulaski County in 2006 and was sentenced to 80 years in prison. He is serving his sentence at the Maximum Security Unit at Tucker and according to the DOC website, will be eligible to apply for parole in 2070.

The correctional officers asked Dennis to dismiss Pitts’ complaint because allowing it to go forward would violate the “three-strike rule” established by state law.

That rule provides that prisoners who have filed three or more claims that were rejected are prohibited from filing another one except in a case where a prisoner is deemed to be in “imminent danger” of serious physical harm.

Dennis approved the motion to dismiss, ruling that Pitts had at least four prior complaints dismissed as frivolous, malicious or for failure to state an action upon which relief could be granted. Dennis also ruled that Pitts was not in “imminent danger.”

The Supreme Court ruling said that in his appeal, Pitts failed to cite any errors Dennis allegedly made in dismissing his complaint, nor did he list any legal reasons for overturning that ruling.