University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Johnnie K. v. Curry Co. JI-NM-0001
Docket / Court CV-81-0914-M ( D.N.M. )
State/Territory New Mexico
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Youth Law Center
Case Summary
On November 4, 1981, juveniles confined in the Curry County Jail in New Mexico filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988, and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5601 et seq., in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico ... read more >
On November 4, 1981, juveniles confined in the Curry County Jail in New Mexico filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988, and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5601 et seq., in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico against Curry County, county commissioners, the sheriff, District Court Judges, and Children's Court Judges. The class consists of all juveniles who were incarcerated as of November 4, 1981 and who would be confined in the Curry County Jail. Southern New Mexico Legal Services and the Youth Law Center represented the class. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the conditions and policies at the Curry County Jail violated the constitutional guarantees of due process, rehabilitative treatment in the least restrictive setting, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants confined "status offenders" and other juveniles who presented no danger to themselves or others, and confined juveniles without adequate separation from adult offenders. The defendants allegedly failed to maintain the jail cells in a sanitary condition, failed to address the inadequacy of the plumbing system, which resulted in the backing up of sewers and flooding, failed to provide adequate ventilation or lighting, failed to take sufficient fire safety precautions, and failed to provide exercise or recreation opportunities to the confined juveniles. Additionally, the plaintiffs alleged that they were not provided medical or mental health screening or services, and that the jail personnel was not trained to identify and respond to problems of juveniles.

On August 31, 1983, a settlement agreement and final order was entered by the District Court (Judge Edwin L. Mechem). The settlement agreement provided that on or before September 1, 1983, juveniles would no longer be detained in the Curry County Jail. The issue of plaintiffs' attorneys' costs fees were still in dispute, so the District Court retained jurisdiction.

Kaitlin Corkran - 05/21/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Classification / placement
Education
Fire safety
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Youth / Adult separation
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Curry County, New Mexico
Plaintiff Description juveniles confined in the Curry County Jail in New Mexico
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Youth Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
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 1983 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Second Amended Civil Complaint for Injunctive, Declaratory and Equitable Relief and Damages (Class Action) 01/15/1982
JI-NM-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Settlement Agreement and Final Order as to Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages 08/31/1983
JI-NM-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bertenthal, Philip J. (California)
JI-NM-0001-0001
McCormack, Charles (New Mexico)
JI-NM-0001-0001
Robinson, Shannon A. (Colorado)
JI-NM-0001-0001 | JI-NM-0001-0002
Shotton, Alice C. (California)
JI-NM-0001-0001 | JI-NM-0001-0002
Soler, Mark I. (California)
JI-NM-0001-0001 | JI-NM-0001-0002
Stanton, John W. (New Mexico)
JI-NM-0001-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Bell, Steven L. (New Mexico)
JI-NM-0001-0002
Murray, Frank A. (New Mexico)
JI-NM-0001-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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