Malta Prisoner Obtains Partial Pension Benefit

By Christopher Zoukis

Today we have an interesting case out of Malta, where a prisoner is asserting that he is entitled to his full retirement pension benefits even though he is currently incarcerated in a prison.

The story starts in 2003 when a man by the name of Paul Hill attempted to murder Victor Testa by repeatedly beating him in the head with a wooden plank.  Come August 2004, Mr. Hill was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.  Upon appeal, the Court of Appeal reduced Mr. Hill’s sentence to 12 years imprisonment.

Prior to Mr. Hill’s imprisonment, he was an employee of Air Malta.  In 2011, he turned 61, the age his retirement pension would vest.  As such, while in prison, he applied for pension benefits.

While Mr. Hill’s pension application was accepted, a decision was made against him which stated that he would only receive half of his pension while in custody.  This way his wife would be supported while he was in prison, and that upon his release from custody he would receive his full pension benefits.

The case becomes even more convoluted when the Social Security Department uncovered that Mr. Hill’s wife was already receiving an invalid pension.  This resulted in an agreement being struck between the Social Security Department and Mr. Hill’s wife which stipulated that she was ineligible for half of Mr. Hill’s pension.  Since she had already received 9,257 Euros of Mr. Hill’s pension, she agreed to reimburse the Social Security Department with 5 percent of each future payment, until the 9,257 Euros issued to her in error were paid back.

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Prison Disciplinary Proceedings: What to Inform Your Clients

By Christopher Zoukis As part of my role as a prison litigator and advocate, I review a number of Incident Reports and Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) Reports every month.  Most of the time I do a quick once over to advise fellow federal prisoners if they have good cause to…

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Prison Disciplinary Hearings: Lack of Notice, a Valuable Defense

By Christopher Zoukis The vast majority of inmates incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons will one day face a disciplinary proceeding.  These proceedings could be the result of a serious allegation of misconduct (e.g., fighting or brewing alcohol) or a less serious allegation (e.g., feeding the birds, or not…

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Federal Court Grants Six-Month Extension to Reduce CDCR Prison Population

By Prison Legal News The three-judge federal court over a long-standing prison healthcare class-action suit against California took a slight turn on January 29, 2013, when the court gave the state a six-month extension to achieve the prison population reduction it had ordered previously. The court had required the California…

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Impaired Driving, Just Not Impaired

By Christopher Zoukis On March 12, 2013, USA Today ran an opinion piece entitled “Drivers Aren’t High, Still Busted for DUI.”  This editorial, authored by EJ Montini, presented a very troubling situation which is repeating itself time and time again in numerous cities across the country.  Simply stated, persons who have utilized…

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ADX Prisoner Not Allowed to Communicate with Family Members or Receive Publications under SAMs

By Christopher Zoukis In another series of court rulings upholding the use of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), a prisoner at the federal ADX supermax facility in Florence, Colorado was prohibited from receiving certain publications and communicating with his nieces and nephews. The federal Bureau of Prisons’ use of SAMs originated in a…

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Prisoners’ Access to the Courts

By Christopher Zoukis In Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977), the Supreme Court held that “the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance…

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Public Defenders Falter Under Budgetary Constraints: Is Gideon No Longer Absolute?

By Christopher Zoukis In the last week, several intriguing articles and editorials have been published concerning the Supreme Court’s landmark 1963 decision in Gideon v. Wainwright and the fundamental Sixth Amendment right to counsel in criminal proceedings.  The New York Times ran the story “The Right to Counsel: Badly Battered…

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