University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name U.S. v. Maricopa County JC-AZ-0002
Docket / Court 97-2273 ( D. Ariz. )
State/Territory Arizona
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Arizona officials in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on October 31, 1997, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action stems from an investigation authorized under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act ( ... read more >
The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Arizona officials in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on October 31, 1997, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action stems from an investigation authorized under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, as a result of allegations that poor conditions in the Maricopa County Jails (Jails) violated inmates' constitutional rights. The investigation was commenced on August 8, 1995, and it focused on allegations of excessive force and denial of adequate medical care. On March 25, 1996, the Justice Department sent a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, stating that the Department of Justice had concluded that unconstitutional conditions exist at the Jails with respect to the use of excessive force against inmates and deliberate indifference to inmates' serious medical needs. Letter from Deval L. Patrick, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, to Ed King, Chairman, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (Mar. 25, 1996).

The findings of excessive force included punching and kicking inmates and the use of cuffs, restraint chairs and stun guns. Systematic factors in the Jails were found to lead to excessive force because of inadequate and inexperienced staffing, the overavailability of non-lethal weapons, overcrowding in intake, insufficient training and inadequate tracking of potentially problematic staff. The findings regarding medical care included insufficient access to medical care, inadequate medical screenings in intake, inadequate protection from infectious disease, inadequate psychiatric care and deficient medical care for prisoners on work furlough. The letter concluded by stating that pursuant to CRIPA, the Attorney General would be permitted to institute a lawsuit if the identified deficiencies were not corrected.

The instant lawsuit was subsequently filed, alleging that Maricopa County had failed to adequately address the stated constitutional violations resulting from the CRIPA investigation.

On November 18, 1997, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona (Judge Roger G. Strand) issued an order granting the dismissal of the civil action conditioned upon compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement by the defendants. U.S. v. County of Maricopa, No. 97-2273 (D.Ariz. Nov. 18, 1997) (order granting conditional dismissal). The remedies mandated by the settlement agreement included the construction of a new intake facility to reduce congestion and waiting time, access to adequate toilet and shower facilities for inmates on work furlough, increased staffing, increased in-service training, changes in Jail policy regarding use of force and restraint techniques, and improved investigations and increased sanctions for incidents of use of excessive force. The case was dismissed by Judge Strand on July 6, 1998.

Tom Madison - 02/04/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Restraints : physical
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Maricopa County Jails
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
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 1997 - 1998
Case Closing Year 1998
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JC-AZ-0008 : Graves v. Arpaio (D. Ariz.)
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 ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Written: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
97-CV-02273-RGS (D. Ariz.) 07/06/1998
JC-AZ-0002-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Maricopa County Jails 03/25/1996
JC-AZ-0002-0001 PDF | Detail
Complaint 10/30/1997
JC-AZ-0002-0002 PDF | Detail
Settlement Agreement 10/31/1997
JC-AZ-0002-0003 PDF | Detail
Order 11/09/1997 (D. Ariz.)
JC-AZ-0002-0004 PDF | Detail
Judges Strand, Roger Gordon (D. Ariz.)
JC-AZ-0002-0004 | JC-AZ-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bartels, Robert (Arizona)
JC-AZ-0002-0003
Masling, Mark S. (District of Columbia)
JC-AZ-0002-0002 | JC-AZ-0002-0003 | JC-AZ-0002-9000
Napolitano, Janet (Arizona)
JC-AZ-0002-0002 | JC-AZ-0002-0003
Nelson, Mellie H. (District of Columbia)
JC-AZ-0002-0002 | JC-AZ-0002-0003
Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia)
JC-AZ-0002-0002
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia)
JC-AZ-0002-0002
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
JC-AZ-0002-0002 | JC-AZ-0002-0003
Stein, Lee David (Arizona)
JC-AZ-0002-0002 | JC-AZ-0002-0003 | JC-AZ-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Duke, Cleon M. (Arizona)
JC-AZ-0002-9000
Jones, William R. Jr. (Arizona)
JC-AZ-0002-0003 | JC-AZ-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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