University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Morgan v. City of Houston JC-TX-0011
Docket / Court H-76-629 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
In 1976, a lawsuit was filed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf of inmates who were incarcerated for failure to pay a fine, alleging that the City of Houston violated their due process rights because they had not been given the opportunity to show whether they ... read more >
In 1976, a lawsuit was filed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf of inmates who were incarcerated for failure to pay a fine, alleging that the City of Houston violated their due process rights because they had not been given the opportunity to show whether they could afford to pay the fines, they were not provided with lawyers, and they were not informed of their right to defer payment rather than face incarceration. The complaint further alleged that conditions at the Houston City Jail were unconstitutional. The inmates sought injunctive and declaratory relief. Specific details about proceedings early in the case are not available because we only found a digital copy of the paper form of the docket, and we do not have access to the orders and pleadings that were filed.

In 1979, the Court (Judge Sim Lake) certified a class and allowed the litigation to proceed as a class action. Another case, filed in 1980, was consolidated into this case.

On September 25, 1989, the parties entered into a consent decree, which established procedures for medical care, food service, provision of a pharmacy, 24-hour medical intake, 24-hour medical call, and training for health workers. It also provided for the closure of the Municipal Prison Farm, the implementation of capital improvements for the construction of police command stations and lock-up facilities. The consent decree required the City to pay $41,933.04 in attorney fees as well.

In October 1994, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce provisions of the decree relating to portions of the medical policies, specifically complaining of the failure to implement 24-hour medical intake, failure to provide certain medical screenings, and the provision of on-call pharmacists. In 1996, the parties agreed to an order for the enforcement of the consent decree provisions, and for the provision of attorney fees and court costs in the amount of $12,747.89 to the plaintiffs (for a combined total of $54,680.93 when combined with previous attorney fees paid by the City).

On February 8, 2011, the plaintiffs alleged that the City still had periods of overcrowding, which resulted increased the likelihood of violence among inmates and between inmates and staff. However, because the City has substantially complied with almost all provisions of the consent decree, and has been able to reduce crowding since the status conference, the Court granted defendant's motion to terminate the consent decree on August 1, 2013.

Denise Lieberman - 11/14/2005
Maurice Youkanna - 07/08/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Hire
Monitoring
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Failure to train
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) City of Houston
Plaintiff Description Inmates incarcerated for failure to pay a fine.
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 Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1989 - 2013
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JC-IL-0004 : Ortiz v. Turner (S.D. Ill.)
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)
H-76-0629 (S.D. Tex.) 05/29/1997
JC-TX-0011-9000 PDF | Detail
H-76-629 (S.D. Tex.) 08/01/2013
JC-TX-0011-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Motion for Enforcement of Consent Decree and for Sanctions
JC-TX-0011-0003 PDF | Detail
Notice of Class Action and Proposed Settlement 09/11/1989
JC-TX-0011-0001 PDF | Detail
Consent Decree 09/25/1989
JC-TX-0011-0002 PDF | Detail
Order [Granting Motion to Terminate Consent Decree] 08/01/2013 (S.D. Tex.)
JC-TX-0011-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lake, Simeon Timothy III (S.D. Tex.)
JC-TX-0011-0004 | JC-TX-0011-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Daniel, Luke (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9000
Nelson, Eric (Washington)
JC-TX-0011-9000
Vaughn, Stephen (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9000 | JC-TX-0011-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Camprice, Robert (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9000
Chan, Andrea (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9000 | JC-TX-0011-9001
Higley, Timothy James (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9001
Other Lawyers None on record

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