University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Spears v. Johnson PC-AL-0018
Docket / Court 1:87-cv-00829-M ( S.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Sometime before 1987, an inmate in the Alabama prison system filed a pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Alabama Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. The plaintiff asked the court for injunctive relief and damages, alleging that ... read more >
Sometime before 1987, an inmate in the Alabama prison system filed a pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Alabama Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. The plaintiff asked the court for injunctive relief and damages, alleging that his constitutional rights had been violated by the general conditions of his confinement.

For the previous decade, a class action lawsuit had been pending in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama challenging conditions of confinement at Alabama penal institutions. The plaintiff in this case, an Alabama inmate, was a member of the plaintiff class in the class action, Pugh v. Locke, PC-AL-0010. That case resulted in a consent decree in 1984 over which the Middle District of Alabama retained jurisdiction, and under which the defendants in this case alleged plaintiffs' claims fell. In 1987, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama (Judge William Brevard Hand) dismissed plaintiffs' petition without prejudice to allow him to present the claim to an oversight committee that oversaw implementation of the consent decree. The plaintiff appealed.

On October 19, 1988, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Judges James C. Hill, Phyllis A. Kravitch, and James L. Edmondson) issued a per curiam opinion vacating the district court's decision and reinstating the plaintiff's petition. Spears v. Johnson, 859 F.3d 853 (11th Cir. 1988). The court then transferred the case to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, where the class action was pending.

On June 21, 1989, the Eleventh Circuit (Judges Hill, Kravitch, and Edmondson) issued another opinion, ruling that their earlier decision was based upon an incorrect premise, as the case in the Middle District Court (with which they ordered this case to be merged) had already closed. They then ordered that this case should be sent back down to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. Spears v. Johnson, 876 F.2d 1485 (11th Cir. 1989).

Kristen Sagar - 09/27/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Totality of conditions
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 Alabama inmate alleging unconstitutional conditions of his confinement
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Unknown
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Case Listing PC-AL-0010 : Pugh v. Locke (M.D. Ala.)
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 ]

Docket(s)
87-00829 (S.D. Ala.) 12/28/1989
PC-AL-0018-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Reported Opinion 10/19/1988 (859 F.2d 853)
PC-AL-0018-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 06/21/1989 (876 F.2d 1485)
PC-AL-0018-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges Edmondson, James Larry (Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0018-0001 | PC-AL-0018-0002
Hill, James Clinkscales (N.D. Ga., Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0018-0001 | PC-AL-0018-0002
Kravitch, Phyllis A. (Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0018-0001 | PC-AL-0018-0002
Milling, Bert W. Jr. (S.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
PC-AL-0018-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers Bjurberg, P. David (Alabama)
PC-AL-0018-0001 | PC-AL-0018-0002
Siegelman, Don (Alabama)
PC-AL-0018-0001 | PC-AL-0018-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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