Alston v. Murphy
To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must establish: 1.) irreparable harm; and 2.) either a.) a likelihood of success on the merits or b.) sufficiently serious questions going to the merits of its claims to make them fair ground for litigation, plus a balance of hardships tipping decidedly in favor of the moving party. The plaintiff inmate, Ira Alston, requested injunctive relief, because he is required to exercise at Northern Correctional Institution with his hands handcuffed behind his back during his one-hour recreation period, and other inmates may harm him, if he disturbs them when he exercises in his prison cell, when his hands are not handcuffed. The plaintiff alleged that the lack of meaningful exercise could harm his physical and mental health. The defendants objected that typically inmates who comply with prison rules and regulations remain in Phase I of the security risk group safety program, where hands are handcuffed during recreation period, a minimum of 120 days. Dr. Carson Wright apparently examined the plaintiff's cell and concluded that there was enough space to exercise. Evidence existed that the plaintiff can walk 3.5 miles per hour safely during his recreation periods, with his hands handcuffed. The plaintiff, who received disciplinary reports that extended his stay in Phase I, failed to establish irreparable harm, in the absence of injunctive relief. The District Court denied the request for injunctive relief. "During recreation in Phase I," wrote the court, "the plaintiff can walk about, breathe fresh air, be exposed to sunlight and socialize with other inmates."