On June 30, 1995, prisoners at MCI-Cedar Junction (MCI) filed this §1983 suit in Suffolk Superior Court against the Massachusetts Department of Correction alleging violations of their Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that the conditions of confinement in the East Wing units violated their due process rights, and that defendant's policy for identifying, classifying, and punishing prison gangs violated their equal protection rights. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief.
The incidents underlying the case began on April 3, 1995, when about a dozen prisoners attacked a correctional officer in MCI's East Wing. In response, defendant instituted a lockdown that continued through August. Plaintiffs' challenge was to two policies implemented during during this lockdown.
On July 14, 1995, the trial court (Judge Paul A. Chernoff) ordered defendants to meet minimum requirements regarding inmates' out-of-cell time; access to showers, cleaning equipment and cleansers; and access to the law library and paralegals. 1995 WL 17814072.
On November 15, 1995, the trial court certified two classes for the action. The due process claim class was defined as "all prisoners who are now confined or may at some point be confined at/in any housing unit other than the Department Disciplinary Unit" at MCI. Regarding the equal protection claims, the class was defined as "Hispanic inmates who have been or will in the future be assigned to the Plymouth housing units" at MCI. 2003 WL 25530367 at fn3.
On October 13, 1999, the trial court (Charles M. Grabau) granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on the due process claim and denied summary judgment as to all other claims. 11 Mass.L.Rptr. 252. Defendants appealed.
On October 10, 2002, the Supreme Judicial Court (Chief Justice Marshall) affirmed in part, holding that the Departmental Segregation Units (DSU) regulations apply to the East Wing blocks at MCI-CJ and must be obeyed. 437 Mass. 737 (2002); 776 N.E.2d 973.
On February 7, 2003, the trial court (Patrick J. King) ruled on the equal protection claim, granting equitable relief to prisoners in the form of good time credits. 2003 WL 25530367. Defendants' application for leave to take an interlocutory appeal was allowed by Justice Cordy of the Supreme Judicial Court.
On August 8, 2003, the Supreme Judicial Court (Justice Spina) found that the trial court was not authorized to award unearned good time credits as an equitable remedy. 440 Mass. 1 (2003); 792 N.E.2d 989. Timothy Shoffner - 04/30/2013