University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Flora v. Luzerne County PD-PA-0002
Docket / Court 3:12-cv-00665 ( M.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On April 10, 2012, the Public Defender of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Luzerne County. Represented by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Plaintiff alleged that his termination was ... read more >
On April 10, 2012, the Public Defender of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Luzerne County. Represented by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Plaintiff alleged that his termination was being threatened because of complaints he had made against the county with regards to lack of funding for the public defender's office, lack of attorneys for the public defender's office, and inability to adequately represent clients. The Plaintiff alleged that the threatened termination would violate his 1st and 14th Amendment rights and he sought injunctive relief to prevent the loss of his 1st Amendment rights. Plaintiff requested the issuance of a temporary restraining order to prevent his removal from the position of Chief Public Defender for Luzerne County, the issuance of preliminary and permanent injunctions, and attorney's fees.

The same day, the plaintiff in this case, along with citizens who were unable to obtain a public defender based on lack of availability, filed a class action suit in state court under the Civil Rights Act, 42 USC §1983, and Article I, §9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The class action suit sought to compel the County to increase resources for the Public Defender. Plaintiffs requested an order requiring Defendants to promptly appoint private or conflict counsel when the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) declines representation of any adult defendant due to excessive workloads or lack of resources. Plaintiffs also sough an order requiring defendants to lift the hiring freeze; an order allowing plaintiff Public Defender to continue with his work until the OPD has adequate resources to represent all indigent adult criminal defendants prosecuted in Luzerne County; a peremptory judgment compelling defendants to provide necessary funding so that the OPD is capable of providing representation to all qualified indigent defendants prosecuted in Luzerne County that satisfies standards set by the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions' and attorneys' fees and costs.

In the federal court case, the plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction. On April 19th, 2012, the parties entered a stipulation requesting withdrawal of plaintiff's request for preliminary injunction. The judge approved the request to withdraw that same day. The terms of the withdrawal stipulated that the plaintiff shall remain in his official capacity as public defender, that he will not be subject to any adverse employment action in retaliation for protected First Amendment activity, and that his job is not in imminent danger. The case was dismissed on March 11, 2013.

Frances Hollander - 04/07/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Funding
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Quality of representation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Luzerne County
Plaintiff Description The Public Defender of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Indigent Defense Reform: The Role of Systemic Litigation in Operationalizing the Gideon Right to Counsel
Written: May. 07, 2007
By: Vidhya K. Reddy (Washington University in St. Louis)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.
Written: Apr. 14, 2009
By: National Right to Counsel Committee (The Constitution Project)
Citation: National Right to Counsel Committee, Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel (2009)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense
By: Norman Lefstein (Indiana University--Indianapolis)
Citation: (ABA 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Third Generation of Indigent Defense Litigation
New York University Review of Law and Social Change
By: Cara Drinan (Columbus School of Law, Catholic University)
Citation: 33 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 427 (2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:12-cv-00665 (M.D. Pa.) 03/11/2013
PD-PA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 04/10/2012
PD-PA-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction 04/10/2012
PD-PA-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Complaint 04/10/2012
PD-PA-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order approving re 11 Stipulation re; Motion for Preliminary Injunction 04/19/2012 (M.D. Pa.)
PD-PA-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Order of Dismissal 03/05/2013 (M.D. Pa.)
PD-PA-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Caputo, A. Richard (M.D. Pa.)
PD-PA-0002-0002
Mannion, Malachy Edward (M.D. Pa.) [Magistrate]
PD-PA-0002-0004 | PD-PA-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Borland, Kimberley D. (Pennsylvania)
PD-PA-0002-0001
Emerson, Hilary J (Pennsylvania)
PD-PA-0002-0003 | PD-PA-0002-0005 | PD-PA-0002-9000
Roper, Mary Catherine (Pennsylvania)
PD-PA-0002-0001 | PD-PA-0002-0002 | PD-PA-0002-0003 | PD-PA-0002-0004 | PD-PA-0002-0005 | PD-PA-0002-9000
Rudovsky, David (Pennsylvania)
PD-PA-0002-0001
Walczak, Witold J. (Pennsylvania)
PD-PA-0002-0001 | PD-PA-0002-0003 | PD-PA-0002-0005 | PD-PA-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carmody, Matthew John (Pennsylvania)
PD-PA-0002-9000
Dean, John G (Pennsylvania)
PD-PA-0002-0002 | PD-PA-0002-0004 | PD-PA-0002-9000
Simon, Deborah Hart (Pennsylvania)
PD-PA-0002-0004 | PD-PA-0002-9000
Wolff, Joel M (Pennsylvania)
PD-PA-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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