University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Cherco v. County of Sonoma JC-CA-0099
Docket / Court 3:80-cv-00334 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection California Jail Population Caps
Case Summary
On February 8, 1980, prisoners at the Sonoma County Jail in Santa Rosa filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, against the County of Sonoma. The plaintiffs brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the ... read more >
On February 8, 1980, prisoners at the Sonoma County Jail in Santa Rosa filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, against the County of Sonoma. The plaintiffs brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the constitutionality of their conditions of confinement. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief. We have limited documentation of this case - only the docket is available to us, and it does not include entries for the first decade of litigation -- but we do have the following information:

The District Court appointed Thomas Lonergan as a monitor for this case in December 1982 and he served in that capacity until the Court dismissed the case in June 1994. Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F. Supp. 1146, 1282 n.231 (N.D. Cal. 1995).

In 1985, the parties reached a settlement. Lynn J. Lund, Mark J. Morrise & Alton Jordan, Nat'l Inst. of Corr., 136 Nebraska Jail Bulletin 9 (1997), available at http://www.ncc.ne.gov/pdf/jail_standards/jail_bulletins/136.pdf. It covered, among other things, disciplinary actions, classification decisions, medical treatment, mental health services (including use of force by staff, suicides, attempt suicides, and in-custody deaths), recreation, general living conditions, and adequacy of food, with the monitor tasked with ensuring compliance. Curricula Vitae of Patrick T. Maher, available at http://ca-sanbernardinoschools.civicplus.com/archives/152/June%2008%202011%20Agenda%20package.pdf. The Court also awarded the plaintiffs $2,000,000 in attorneys' fees. Lund et al., supra, at 9.

The docket informs us that construction of a new jail was also a part of the litigation: on August 14, 1991, the Court (Judge Thelton E. Henderson) ordered the County to complete occupation of the new jail by October 18 of that year or be fined $8,000 per day of lateness. The Court also issued an order regarding double celling, but the exact content of that order is unclear from the docket.

On June 22, 1994, the Court (Judge Henderson) dismissed the case with prejudice and declared all prior orders and judgments to be of no further effect, presumably because a new jail had been constructed and occupied.

Christopher Schad - 08/21/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Excessive force
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Recreation / Exercise
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) County of Sonoma
Plaintiff Description prisoners at the Sonoma County Jail in Santa Rosa, California
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1994
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Docket(s)
3:80-cv-00334-TEH (N.D. Cal.) 07/22/1994
JC-CA-0099-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
No documents currently in the collection
Judges Henderson, Thelton Eugene (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0099-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers Bolton, Bennett E. (California)
JC-CA-0099-9000
Sykes, Jeffrey A. (California)
JC-CA-0099-9000
Wulfsberg, Harold James (California)
JC-CA-0099-9000
Other Lawyers Grove, Jesse B. (California)
JC-CA-0099-9000
Niece, William Samuel (California)
JC-CA-0099-9000
Wiezel, James Peter (California)
JC-CA-0099-9000

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