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Case Name Tunstall v. Bergeson PC-WA-0018
Docket / Court 97-2-02754-1 ( State Court )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
This class action sought basic and special education services for youth under age 22 who were incarcerated in adult prisons operated by the Washington Department of Corrections. The case was filed on November 21, 1997, in Thurston County Superior Court and named as defendants the Department of ... read more >
This class action sought basic and special education services for youth under age 22 who were incarcerated in adult prisons operated by the Washington Department of Corrections. The case was filed on November 21, 1997, in Thurston County Superior Court and named as defendants the Department of Corrections and the school districts in Washington State where major prisons were located.

Plaintiffs, represented by attorneys with the Columbia Legal Services Institutions Project, specifically alleged violations of Article IX of the Washington Constitution, the Washington Basic Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20U.S.C.§ 1400,et seq.; § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794; and the due process and equal protection clauses of the Washington and United States Constitutions.

At the heart of the case was the issue of whether the State had a duty to provide basic or special educational programs to juveniles who were tried, convicted and sentenced as adults, just as the State provides to children in the public school system. A companion issue was whether any such duty existed as to criminal offenders between the ages of 18 and 22 incarcerated in the state prisons.

Shortly after its filing, the trial court certified the case as a class action. The class was defined as including: "All individuals who are now, or who will in the future be, committed to the custody of the Washington Department of Corrections, who are allegedly denied access to basic or special education during that custody, and who are, during that custody, under the age of 21, or disabled and under the age of 22."

During the course of the litigation, the Washington Legislature passed legislation which provided some DOC prisoners under the age of 18 the opportunity to earn a high school diploma. (Later codified at RCW 28A.193). No such provision was created for inmates between the ages of 18 and 22, except that inmates who pursued their diploma before they turned 18 were allowed to finish the necessary course work.

To streamline the issues, the court appointed a Special Master who worked with the parties to develop a set of stipulated facts. The parties then filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

In October 1998, the trial court issued its ruling on the summary judgment motions, finding that the DOC had a duty to provide basic education to incarcerated youth under 21, and to provide special education to disabled incarcerated youth under 22. The trial court also found that the newly enacted legislation directed at inmate education was unconstitutional. A direct appeal was taken the Washington Supreme Court.

The Washington Supreme Court held that state inmates under age 18 had a constitutional right to public education and that their right was satisfied by the newly enacted legislation directed at inmate education. (RCW 28A.193). The Court found that inmates between the ages of 18 to 22 had no rights to education and declined to address the issue of whether disabled inmates aged 18 and 22 had any constitutional right to special education. Tunstall v. Bergeson, 5 P.3d 91(Wash. 2000). The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in the case. Tunstall, 532 U.S. 920 (2001).

Dan Dalton - 09/14/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Education
Juveniles
Special education
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Cape Flattery School District No. 401
Cheney School District No. 360
Monroe School District No. 103
Peninsula School District No. 401
Shelton School District No. 309
Steilacoom Historical School District No. 1
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Walla Walla School District No. 140
Washngton Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Individuals who are now, or who will in the future be, committed to the custody of the DOC who are allegedly denied access to basic or special education during that custody, and who are, during that custody, under the age of 21, or disabled and under 22.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1998 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2001
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-WA-0017 : Blakeley v. Bergeson (State Court)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Stipulated Facts 08/24/1998
PC-WA-0018-0005.pdf | Detail
Verbatim Transcript of Ruling by the Honorable Christine A. Pomeroy - October 9, 1998 10/09/1998
PC-WA-0018-0004.pdf | Detail
Amended Order 12/03/1998
PC-WA-0018-0003.pdf | Detail
Corrected Brief of Respondents/Cross-Appellants 04/07/1999
PC-WA-0018-0002.pdf | Detail
Corrected Brief of Appellants/Cross Respondents 09/14/1999
PC-WA-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Appellate Opinion (Washington Supreme Court) 07/27/2000 (5 P.3d 691)
PC-WA-0018-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Untitled 03/19/2001 (532 U.S. 920)
PC-WA-0018-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Ireland, Faith (State Supreme Court)
PC-WA-0018-0006
Johnson, Charles W. (State Supreme Court)
PC-WA-0018-0006
Pomeroy, Christine A. (State Trial Court)
PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0004
Talmadge, Philip (State Supreme Court)
PC-WA-0018-0006
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Arthur, Patricia J. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0002 | PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0004 | PC-WA-0018-0005 | PC-WA-0018-0006
Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia)
PC-WA-0018-0002 | PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0004 | PC-WA-0018-0005 | PC-WA-0018-0006
Luera, Angela M. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0002 | PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0005
Niemann, Angela M. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0006
Wagner, Patricia H. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0002 | PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0004 | PC-WA-0018-0005 | PC-WA-0018-0006
Wechkin, Robin E. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Biggs, John S. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0005
Carr, Douglas Wayne (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0005
Coats, William A. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0005 | PC-WA-0018-0006
Fischer, Warren Howard (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0005
Gregoire, Christine O. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0001 | PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0006
Grennan, Philip B. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0004 | PC-WA-0018-0006
Kalzer, Karen A. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0006
Klein, Heather (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0006
Patterson, Robert Edward (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0003
Patterson, Michael A. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0005 | PC-WA-0018-0006
Sutton, Lisa L. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0001 | PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0004 | PC-WA-0018-0006
Young, Thomas J. (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0003 | PC-WA-0018-0004 | PC-WA-0018-0005 | PC-WA-0018-0006
Other Lawyers Orth, Andrea Devine (Washington)
PC-WA-0018-0006

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