University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Steinke v. Washington County JC-OR-0003
Docket / Court 94-396 ( D. Or. )
State/Territory Oregon
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
On April 18, 1994, criminal defense attorneys who represent inmates confined in the Washington County Jail in Hillsboro, Oregon, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon against the county under 42 U.S.C. §1983 requesting that the county provide them with adequate and ... read more >
On April 18, 1994, criminal defense attorneys who represent inmates confined in the Washington County Jail in Hillsboro, Oregon, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon against the county under 42 U.S.C. §1983 requesting that the county provide them with adequate and private space in which they could confer with their clients at the jail. The plaintiffs alleged that the use of the space available to them for client consultation violated their rights to practice their profession according to the highest standards under the Fourteenth Amendment, violated their First Amendment rights to free speech, and violated their clients' right to counsel by inhibiting full and free communication. The conditions of attorney-client communication was alleged to be unconstitutional because male inmates had to sit close to one another in their second floor interview room, allowing inmate statements in a normal conversational tone to be overheard by other inmates in the room. Also, the third floor interview room for female inmates contained a window that opened at the bottom directly into the corrections staff office. The window was located three feet from where the attorney sits, permitting corrections staff to eavesdrop at will.

On July 1, 1994, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (Judge Helen J. Frye) ordered the criminal defense attorneys to attempt to resolve the issues of inadequate communication in the context of actions filed by criminal defendants themselves raising the same issues. Steinke v. Washington County, 857 F.Supp. 55 (D.Or. 1994). Judge Frye referred to the consent decrees in Jungwirth v. Barnes, No. 83-634 (JC-OR-005), regarding male inmates at the Washington County Jail, and Davis v. Friese, No. 83-1272 (JC-OR-004), regarding female inmates at the jail. The court noted that the decrees in those cases included provisions specifically addressing the issue of adequate space for confidential attorney-client conferences. Accordingly, Judge Frye transferred this case to Judge James A. Redden, who was assigned to Jungwirth, for further action consistent with his continued jurisdiction in the Jungwirth case.

Judge Redden entered a consent decree on June 28, 1995, in which Washington County agreed to soundproof the interview rooms and to obtain more space in the jail for private consultations. On September 8, 1995, Judge Redden held that the criminal defense attorneys were entitled to a fee award under 42 U.S.C. §1988 as a prevailing party. Steinke v. Washington County, 903 F.Supp. 1403 (D.Or. 1995). The criminal defense attorneys had achieved prevailing party status as a result of the consent decree entered in the case that increased the privacy that is necessary for attorney-client consultations.

The attorney's fee issue is the last substantive entry in the docket; the docket concludes with a notation dated July 20, 1998, that the case file was sent to the Federal Records Center.

Kristen Sagar - 06/30/2009


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Law library access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Washington County Jail
Plaintiff Description Criminal defense attorneys requesting that county provide them with adequate and private space in which they could confer with their clients at county jail
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
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 Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1995 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
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)
94-396 (D. Or.) 07/20/1998
JC-OR-0003-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion 07/01/1994 (857 F.Supp. 55) (D. Or.)
JC-OR-0003-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 09/08/1995 (903 F.Supp. 1403) (D. Or.)
JC-OR-0003-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Frye, Helen Jackson (D. Or.)
JC-OR-0003-0002
Redden, James Anthony (D. Or.)
JC-OR-0003-0001 | JC-OR-0003-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers LeSage, Lisa M. (Oregon)
JC-OR-0003-0001 | JC-OR-0003-0002 | JC-OR-0003-9000
Neal, Spencer M. (Oregon)
JC-OR-0003-0001 | JC-OR-0003-0002 | JC-OR-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Junkin, John M. (Oregon)
JC-OR-0003-0001 | JC-OR-0003-0002 | JC-OR-0003-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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