Opinions Relating to Orders - 2021

Cope v. Cogdill

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, dissenting from the denial of certiorari. Jail officials placed Derrek Monroe, a pretrial detainee whom they knew to have twice recently attempted suicide by strangulation, in a cell with a 30-inch telephone cord, an obvious ligature, contrary to statewide guidance and at least one official’s training.

The lone jailer on duty then watched for approximately 10 minutes as Monroe wrapped the cord tightly around his neck and grew motionless. The jailer had neglected to call 911, despite having been specifically trained to do so. Monroe died the next day. The Fifth Circuit concluded that the jail officials were entitled to qualified immunity.

I disagree and would summarily reverse. I The facts and circumstances surrounding Monroe’s suicide are not in dispute. Monroe was arrested on a suspected drug offense and booked at a county jail. During intake, he stated on a screening form that he “‘wished [he] had a way to’” kill himself that day. 3 F. 4th 198, 202 (CA5 2021). The form also reported that he had attempted suicide two weeks earlier, had received psychiatric services, had been diagnosed with “‘some sort of schizophrenia,’” and displayed other signs of mental illness and emotional disturbance. Ibid. This information was relayed to Sheriff Leslie Cogdill and jail administrator Mary Jo Brixey. Brixey placed Monroe on a temporary suicide watch.