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Case Name Newman v. Alabama PC-AL-0017
Docket / Court 3501N ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Court-ordered receiverships
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
In 1972, Alabama prisoners filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Alabama in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The plaintiffs, who were represented by court appointed attorney Joe Phelps, asked the Court to grant them declaratory and ... read more >
In 1972, Alabama prisoners filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Alabama in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The plaintiffs, who were represented by court appointed attorney Joe Phelps, asked the Court to grant them declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that their constitutional rights had been violated by inadequate medical care.

On October 4, 1972, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (Judge Frank M. Johnson) found 8th and 14th Amendment violations relating to the inadequate medical care and treatment of state inmates. The Court granted declaratory and injunctive relief, finding that approximately 10% of the inmate population was psychotic and another 60% mentally disturbed enough to require treatment and ordering the Board of Corrections to undertake extensive changes in its present practices in order to provide adequate medical care to inmates. The Court also awarded the plaintiffs their attorney fees. Newman v. State of Alabama, 349 F.Supp. 278 (M.D.Ala. 1972). The defendants appealed.

On November 8, 1974, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sustained the District Court's finding of constitutional violations and held that the case was properly decided. Newman v. State of Alabama, 503 F.2d 1320 (5th Cir. 1974). The defendants asked for a rehearing en banc; the Fifth Circuit refused. The defendants then sought Supreme Court review, and on January 10, 1975, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the writ of certiorari. Newman v. State of Alabama, 421 U.S. 948 (1975).

On January 13, 1976, in the class action lawsuit Pugh v. Locke, the District Court (Judge Johnson) found Alabama's prison system's living conditions to be unconstitutional in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments. The District Court enjoined the State of Alabama and the Board of Corrections from maintaining a prison system not in compliance with constitutional standards, appointing a 39-member Human Rights Committee for the Alabama Prison System (with Rod Nachman as chair) to monitor implementation of the court order. Pugh v. Locke, 406 F. Supp. 318 (M.D.Ala. 1976).

The defendants appealed, and on September 16, 1977, the Fifth Circuit consolidated Pugh v. Lock with Newman v. Alabama and with a third case named James v. Wallace, where Alabama inmates were challenging the conditions of their confinement. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court's finding of constitutional violations, but they dissolved the 39-member Human Rights Committee ordering that their functions would terminate and remanding the case to the District Court to appoint a separate monitor for each prison. Newman v. Alabama, 559 F.2d 283 (5th Cir. 1977).

On May 18, 1981, the District Court held a hearing, where it was stipulated that Alabama prisons had not met deadlines set by the federal court order, and that the overcrowding situation had actually gotten worse. On July 15, 1981, the District Court ordered the defendants to release 400 inmates, whose names were to be specified 9 days later.

Before the names of the inmates to be released were specified, Attorney General Graddick sought to intervene and filed a notice of appeal with the Fifth Circuit, requesting that they stay the District Court's order until the appeal was settled. On July 23, 1981, the Fifth Circuit refused to stay the District Court's order. Pursuant to the order of the District Court, 400 inmates were to be released at midnight on July 24, 1981, but this was halted when the U.S. Supreme Court (Justice Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.) granted a temporary stay. Attorney General Graddick requested a permanent stay, but the Supreme Court declined. Graddick v. Newman, No. A-72, 1981 WL 381035 (U.S. July 25, 1981). On September 2, 1981, Graddick's reapplication for a stay, which was filed with the Chief Justice, was denied by the full Supreme Court. Graddick v. Newman, 453 U.S. 928 (1981).

On August 9, 1982, the Fifth Circuit (Judge Robert Varner) ruled on the appeal, holding that the District Court erred in ordering the defendants to reduce unconstitutional overcrowding by releasing prisoners. The Fifth Circuit found that the District Court had abused its discretion, ordering relief that was "impermissibly intrusive on State's prerogative to administer its prison and parole system." Newman v. Alabama, 683 F. 2d 1312 (11th Cir. 1982).

On January 18, 1983, the District Court entered a consent decree in the case, and the Commissioner of Corrections began to submit quarterly compliance reports. On September 6, 1983, the plaintiffs filed a motion for additional relief, claiming that the prisons were still overcrowded and asking the District Court to enjoin the defendants from holding more prisoners than the prisons were equipped to handle. On November 4, 1983, the District Court issued an order restraining the defendants from enforcing a separate State court order (concerning which we have no information) and ordered the defendants to release enough prisoners to bring the prisons back within their proper occupancy levels. The District Court ordered Commissioner Smith to continue implementation of the quarterly reporting program and held Graddick in contempt of court. On December 7, 1983, the District Court issued a further order holding Commissioner Smith in contempt for his refusal to release prisoners. Both Graddick and Smith appealed.

On September 10, 1984, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, reviewed the orders issued by the District Court and reversed the findings of contempt against Graddick and Smith. The Eleventh Circuit also held that the District Court erred in ordering release of inmates without allowing a showing that conditions of confinement were no longer unconstitutional. Newman v. Graddick, 740 F. 2d 1513 (11th Cir. 1984).

On November 27, 1984, the District Court (Judge Varner) dismissed the case without prejudice pursuant to a consent order of dismissal that had been jointly filed by all parties.

On December 29, 1987, the Implementation Committee, which was created for monitoring purposes, reported to the District Court that overcrowding was still a big problem in the Alabama prisons. The next day, the District Court reactivated the case so that the Court could conduct further review of the prisons. The Committee the filed a further report with the Court, in which it concluded that even though constitutional violations may occur in the future, "future claims of constitutional violations should be resolved in other litigation properly presented to the courts," and that this case should be dismissed. On December 28, 1988, the District Court (Judge Varner) dismissed the case with prejudice.

Dan Dalton - 09/24/2007


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Receivership
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
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) Alabama Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmates within the Alabama Penal System.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
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
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1972 - 1988
Case Closing Year 1984
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-AL-0010 : Pugh v. Locke (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0030 : James v. Wallace (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0003 : Alabama v. Smith (State Court)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

  Prison Litigation and Bureaucratic Development
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law)
Citation: 17 L. & Soc. Inquiry 125 (1992)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Punitive Conditions of Prison Confinement: An Analysis of Pugh v. Locke and Federal Court Supervision of State Penal Administration Under the Eighth Amendment
By: Ira P. Robbins and Michael B. Buser (American University)
Citation: 29 Stan. L. Rev. 893 (1977)
[ Detail ]

  Reform and Regret: The Story of Federal Judicial Involvement in the Alabama Prison System
By: Larry W. Yackle (Boston University School of Law)
Citation: (1989)
[ Detail ]

  The Alabama Prison Litigation
By: Tinsley E. Yarbrough (East Carolina University)
Citation: 9 Justice Sys. Journal 276 (1984)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
3501-N (M.D. Ala.) 12/29/1983
PC-AL-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
General Documents
Opinion 10/04/1972 (349 F.Supp. 278) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Table of Decisions 10/16/1974 (503 F.2d 565)
PC-AL-0017-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Appellate Decision 11/08/1974 (503 F.2d 1320)
PC-AL-0017-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Table of Decisions 01/10/1975 (506 F.2d 1056)
PC-AL-0017-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Denial of Petition for Writ of Certiorari 04/28/1975 (421 U.S. 948)
PC-AL-0017-0019.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Appellate Decision 10/29/1975 (522 F.2d 71)
PC-AL-0017-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Appellate Decision 09/16/1977 (559 F.2d 283)
PC-AL-0017-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Table of Decisions 11/07/1977 (564 F.2d 97)
PC-AL-0017-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Dismissal of Appeals Case [Table] 01/31/1978 (568 F.2d 204)
PC-AL-0017-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Denial of Petition for Writ of Certiorari 07/03/1978 (438 U.S. 915)
PC-AL-0017-0020.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Appellate Decision 08/07/1978 (578 F.2d 565)
PC-AL-0017-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum 02/02/1979 (466 F.Supp. 628) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
On Application for Stay 07/25/1981 (1981 WL 381035)
PC-AL-0017-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Supreme Court Opinion 09/02/1981 (453 U.S. 928)
PC-AL-0017-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Appellate Decision 08/09/1982 (683 F.2d 1312)
PC-AL-0017-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Appellate Decision 01/05/1983 (696 F.2d 796)
PC-AL-0017-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Denial of Petition for Writ of Certiorari 04/18/1983 (460 U.S. 1083)
PC-AL-0017-0021.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Appellate Decision 09/10/1984 (740 F.2d 1513)
PC-AL-0017-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Consent Order of Dismissal 11/29/1984 (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Order 12/28/1988 (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0002.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion 12/28/1988 (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0003.pdf | Detail
Judges Ainsworth, Robert Andrew Jr. (E.D. La., Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006
Bell, Kenneth B. (State Supreme Court)
PC-AL-0017-0006
Brown, Janice Rogers (D.C. Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006
Clark, Charles (Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006
Clark, Thomas Alonzo (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0010 | PC-AL-0017-0011
Coleman, James Plemon (Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0013
Dyer, David William (Fifth Circuit, S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006
Fay, Peter Thorp (Fifth Circuit, S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0011
Gee, Thomas Gibbs (Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0013
Gewin, Walter Pettus (Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Godbold, John Cooper (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006
Goldberg, Irving Loeb (Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006
Johnson, Frank Minis Jr. (Fifth Circuit, M.D. Ala., Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0008
Kravitch, Phyllis A. (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0009
Kunzig, Robert Lowe ()
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0013
Morgan, Lewis Render (Fifth Circuit, N.D. Ga., Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0009
Powell, Lewis Franklin Jr. (SCOTUS)
PC-AL-0017-0017 | PC-AL-0017-0018
Rehnquist, William Hubbs (SCOTUS)
PC-AL-0017-0018
Roney, Paul Hitch (Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit, FISCR)
PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0010 | PC-AL-0017-0011
Simpson, John Milton Bryan (Fifth Circuit, M.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit, S.D. Fla.)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Thornberry, William Homer (W.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Tjoflat, Gerald Bard (Fifth Circuit, M.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0009
Tuttle, Elbert Parr (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0010
Varner, Robert Edward (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0001 | PC-AL-0017-0002 | PC-AL-0017-0003
Wisdom, John Minor (Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bell, John C. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Butler, Philip H. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Cameron, John F. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-9000
Carroll, John L. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-0011 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Curtis, Jack M. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-9000
Levin, Joseph J. Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007
Phelps, Joseph D. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007
Segall, Robert D. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Taylor, George Peach (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008
Teague, Barry E. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Wallis, Kenneth Dallon II (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Agricola, Algert Swanson Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0011 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Ansley, Eva (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-9000
Barnes, William Scears Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009
Baxley, William J. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007
Beck, George (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007
Drake, Jack (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009
Graddick, Charles A. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Hamlett Davis, Rosa G. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Henry, Herbert H III (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Lamar, Robert S. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007
Lawson, Thomas S. Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007
Lockett, John R. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009
Martin, William K. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007
McAlpine, Thomas R. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0011
Nachman, M. R. Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Newman, Larry R. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008
Samford, Jimmy (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0010
Smyly, Terry (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0011
Sorrels, Thomas (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Strickland, Edwin A. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009
Waters, Michael D. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0008
Wilson, Frank M. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0011 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Other Lawyers Bailey, Dennis R. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0010
Barnett, Walter W. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007
Bronstein, Alvin J. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-0010 | PC-AL-0017-0011 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Dale, Mitchell W. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-9000
De Ment, Ira (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Eisenstein, Miriam R. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0011
Fuoco, Philip Stephen (New Jersey)
PC-AL-0017-0004
Hoyle, John C. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0007
Knowles, Ralph I. Jr. (Georgia)
PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-0010
Littlefield, Patricia Gail (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Loftman, Michael S. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Myers, Matthew L. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008
Norman, David L. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0004
Pottinger, J. Stanley (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Schneider, Charles A. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-9000
Shinbaum, Richard D. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0010
Thrasher, Louis M. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0004
Whinston, Stephen A. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008

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