Mayer Brown lawyers in Chicago recently secured a pro bono appellate victory in Mays v. Springborn, a prisoner civil rights case alleging a number of constitutional violations in connection with strip searches performed at an Illinois prison.

The case had been appealed once, remanded, and retried by other counsel before Mayer Brown took the successive appeal. In reversing and remanding for a second time, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Mayer Brown’s position that the district court plainly erred in causation instructions given to the jury on Mr. Tiberius Mays’s First Amendment retaliation claim and in special interrogatories given to the jury on Mr. Mays’s Eighth Amendment cruel-and-unusual-punishment claim.

In so holding, the Court confirmed that the burden of proof for First Amendment retaliation claims is divided between the parties at trial—an issue that had been the subject of some disagreement in recent Seventh Circuit case law.

Mayer Brown Litigation & Dispute Resolution associate Logan Steiner briefed the appeal, with support from partner Jim Schroeder and Marc Kadish, Director of Pro Bono Activities and Litigation Training.