On May 29, 2007, the Supreme Court granted review of four new cases for decision during the October 2007 term, including a federal prisoner's rights case from the 11th Circuit, Ali vs. Federal Bureau of Prisons, Case No. 06-9130, which asserts a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) because prison officials lost an inmate's religious and personal belongings when he was transferred from one prison to another. The federal district court dismissed the inmate's claim on the basis that a law enforcement officer's negligence in losing an item of an inmate's personal property does not fall within the FTCA's enumerated categories of federal tort liability for which the Act waives the Government's sovereign immunity, and the 11th Circuit affirmed.
The question presented to the Court is:
Under 28 U.S.C. 2680(c), the Federal Tort Claims Act's waiver of sovereign immunity does not extend to "[a]ny claim arising in respect of . . . the detention of any goods, merchandise, or other property by any officer of customs or excise or any other law enforcement officer."
The question presented, over which ten circuits are divided six-to-four, is:
Whether the term "other law enforcement officer" is limited to officers acting in a tax, excise, or customs capacity?
Petitioner's motion to have Jean-Claude Andre of Los Angeles appointed as his counsel will be taken up at the Court's "long conference" on September 24, 2007. The case is tentatively set for oral argument on October 29, 2007.