University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Ngo v. Woodford PC-CA-0039
Docket / Court 5:01-cv-20674-JF ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On July 18, 2001, a California state inmate serving a life sentence for murder filed a § 1983 action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging restrictions placed on his participation in special prison programs, including a variety of religious activities. The ... read more >
On July 18, 2001, a California state inmate serving a life sentence for murder filed a § 1983 action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging restrictions placed on his participation in special prison programs, including a variety of religious activities. The restrictions followed a period of administrative segregation for allegedly engaging in "inappropriate activity" in the prison chapel. Plaintiff initially filed a grievance with California prison officials about his prison conditions, but it was rejected as untimely under state law. His federal court suit followed.

Plaintiff claimed that the restrictions violated his First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of his religion. He also claimed that the restrictions lessened his chances for parole eligibility.

The District Court (Judge Jeremy Fogel) dismissed the case for failure to exhaust all of his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (''PLRA'') 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Plaintiff appealed.

The Ninth Circuit Court of appeals reversed, holding that plaintiff had exhausted administrative remedies simply because no such remedies remained available to him. Ngo v. Woodford, 403 F.3d 620 (9th Cir. 2005). Defendants' petition for certiorari was granted.

The U.S. Supreme Court (Justice Samuel Alito) reversed and remanded the case, holding that the PLRA exhaustion requirement required proper exhaustion and that plaintiff's filing an untimely or otherwise procedurally defective administrative grievance did not satisfy the exhaustion requirement. Woodford v. Ngo, 126 S.Ct. 2378 (2006).

Dan Dalton - 10/16/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Disciplinary procedures
Grievance Procedures
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) California Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description California state prisoner challenging restrictions on his participation in special programs.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
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 ]

Links The Oyez Project, Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. ___ (2006).
www.oyez.org
Posted: Jun. 22, 2006
By: Oyez Project (IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
05-416 (U.S. Supreme Court) 08/01/2006
PC-CA-0039-9002.pdf | Detail
Supreme Court website
03-16042 (U.S. Court of Appeals) 09/06/2007
PC-CA-0039-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
5:01-cv-20674-JF (N.D. Cal.) 02/06/2009
PC-CA-0039-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Appellate Opinion (Ninth Circuit) 03/24/2005 (403 F.3d 620)
PC-CA-0039-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Petition for a Writ of Certiorari Granted 11/14/2005 (546 U.S. 1015)
PC-CA-0039-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Brief for Petitioners 12/29/2005
PC-CA-0039-0001.pdf | Detail
Brief of the States of New York, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, et al. as Amici Curiae in Support of the Petitioners 12/29/2005
PC-CA-0039-0010.pdf | Detail
Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners 02/01/2006
PC-CA-0039-0004.pdf | Detail
Brief for Amici Curiae Law Professors in Support of Respondent 02/01/2006
PC-CA-0039-0005.pdf | Detail
Brief of the American Bar Association as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondent 02/01/2006
PC-CA-0039-0007.pdf | Detail
Brief for Respondent Viet Mike Ngo 02/02/2006
PC-CA-0039-0002.pdf | Detail
Brief for the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization of the Yale Law School as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondent 02/02/2006
PC-CA-0039-0006.pdf | Detail
Brief of the ACLU, ACLU of Northern California, Legal Aid Society of the City of New York, Ohio Justice and Policy Center, Prison Law Office, Prisoners' Legal Services of New York, and the Uptown People's Law Center as Amici Curiae 02/02/2006
PC-CA-0039-0008.pdf | Detail
Order: Leave to Participate in Oral Argument Granted 02/21/2006 (546 U.S. 1167)
PC-CA-0039-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Reply Brief for Petitioners 03/09/2006
PC-CA-0039-0003.pdf | Detail
Oral Argument Before the U.S. Supreme Court 03/22/2006
PC-CA-0039-0009.pdf | Detail
Supreme Court Opinion 06/22/2006 (548 U.S. 81)
PC-CA-0039-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (Third Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-CA-0039-0014
Breyer, Stephen Gerald (First Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-CA-0039-0014
Fogel, Jeremy D. (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0039-9000
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-CA-0039-0014
Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (Ninth Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-CA-0039-0014
Kozinski, Alex (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0039-0011
Pregerson, Harry (Ninth Circuit, C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0039-0011
Rhoades, John Skylstead Sr. (S.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0039-0011
Roberts, John Glover Jr. (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-CA-0039-0014
Scalia, Antonin (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-CA-0039-0014
Souter, David Hackett (First Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-CA-0039-0014
Stevens, John Paul (Seventh Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-CA-0039-0014
Thomas, Clarence (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-CA-0039-0014
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ayer, Donald B. (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0002 | PC-CA-0039-0014
Bushman, Kate (New York)
PC-CA-0039-0002 | PC-CA-0039-0014
Davis, Thomas J. (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0002 | PC-CA-0039-0014
Feder, Meir (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0002 | PC-CA-0039-0009 | PC-CA-0039-0011 | PC-CA-0039-0014 | PC-CA-0039-9000 | PC-CA-0039-9001 | PC-CA-0039-9002
Morse, Charles R. A. (New York)
PC-CA-0039-0002 | PC-CA-0039-0014
Defendant's Lawyers Grunder, Frances T. (California)
PC-CA-0039-0001 | PC-CA-0039-0003 | PC-CA-0039-0014
Humes, James M. (California)
PC-CA-0039-0001 | PC-CA-0039-0003 | PC-CA-0039-0014
Lockyer, Bill (California)
PC-CA-0039-0001 | PC-CA-0039-0003 | PC-CA-0039-0014
Madeiros, Manuel M. (California)
PC-CA-0039-0001 | PC-CA-0039-0003 | PC-CA-0039-0014
Patterson, Thomas S. (California)
PC-CA-0039-0001 | PC-CA-0039-0003 | PC-CA-0039-0014
Perkell, Jennifer G. (California)
PC-CA-0039-0001 | PC-CA-0039-0003 | PC-CA-0039-0009 | PC-CA-0039-0011 | PC-CA-0039-0014 | PC-CA-0039-9000 | PC-CA-0039-9001 | PC-CA-0039-9002
Roost, Kenneth (California)
PC-CA-0039-9001
Other Lawyers Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0008
Banks, Steven L. (New York)
PC-CA-0039-0008
Clement, Paul D. (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0004 | PC-CA-0039-9002
Dearing, Richard (New York)
PC-CA-0039-0010
Easton, Robert H. (New York)
PC-CA-0039-0010
Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0008
Garre, Gregory G. (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0004
Greco, Michael S. (Illinois)
PC-CA-0039-0007 | PC-CA-0039-9002
Halligan, Caitlin J. (New York)
PC-CA-0039-0010 | PC-CA-0039-9002
Herwig, Barbara L. (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0004
Himmelfarb, Dan (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0004 | PC-CA-0039-0009 | PC-CA-0039-0014 | PC-CA-0039-9002
Keisler, Peter D. (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0004
Lidsky, Isaac J. (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0004
Roosevelt, Kermit (Pennsylvania)
PC-CA-0039-0005 | PC-CA-0039-9002
Schlanger, Margo (Missouri)
PC-CA-0039-0008 | PC-CA-0039-9002
Shapiro, Steven R. (New York)
PC-CA-0039-0008
Shay, Giovanna (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0039-0006 | PC-CA-0039-9002
Spitzer, Eliot (New York)
PC-CA-0039-0010

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