University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Teddy R. Serrano v. County Executive Hartzell JC-PA-0017
Docket / Court 88-8966 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
On November 20, 1988, a class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of prisoners at Northampton County Prison challenging the adequacy of the prison law library materials and inmates' access to the courts. The plaintiff class was ... read more >
On November 20, 1988, a class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of prisoners at Northampton County Prison challenging the adequacy of the prison law library materials and inmates' access to the courts. The plaintiff class was represented by the Philadelphia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. We do not have access to the original complaint or the ensuing court decree so we do not know whether the issues in the case were limited solely to inmates' access to the courts or if it covered institutions other than Northhampton.

On March 8, 1989, a consent decree was entered in the case. Serrano v. Northampton County Prison Commission, No. 88- 8966 (E.D.Pa.1989). It required a number of changes to law library policies, including establishing hours of operation, ensuring current volumes of a number of specific law reporters, rules and journals, providing inmates with timely access to materials requested that were not in the library, ensuring a working typewriter, and staffing the prison law library with an inmate trained in legal research to assist inmates in research. In subsequent separate litigation concerning adequacy of law library materials, prison officials submitted an affidavit attesting to the procedures they employed to remain in compliance with the 1989 decree.

According to the docket on PACER, the case was closed in June 1990. Because the docket is devoid of content save a listing of parties, all information about this case was obtained from a reference to the court decree in Thomas v. Olander, 877 F.Supp. 242 (E.D. Pa. 1995), a different case that addressed adequacy of law library provisions.

Denise Lieberman - 11/14/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Law library access
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Northampton Prison
Plaintiff Description inmates at Northampton County Prison
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 Unknown
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1989 - 1990
Case Closing Year 1990
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)
88-08966 (E.D. Pa.) 11/16/2005
JC-PA-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
General Documents
Opinion 01/09/1995 (877 F.Supp. 242) (E.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0017-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Huyett, Daniel Henry III (E.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0017-0001 | JC-PA-0017-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers Baratta, Stephen G. (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0017-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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