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Case Name Madrid v. Gomez PC-CA-0017
Docket / Court 90-3094 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On October 26, 1990, prisoners at the Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the California Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs, represented by the ... read more >
On October 26, 1990, prisoners at the Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the California Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs, represented by the Prison Law Office, alleged that the conditions of their confinement were unconstitutional, and they asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants unconstitutionally condoned a pattern and practice of using excessive force against inmates, failed to provide inmates with adequate medical care, failed to provide inmates with adequate mental health care, imposed inhumane conditions in the Security Housing Unit, utilized cell-assignment procedures that exposed inmates to an unreasonable risk of assault from other inmates, failed to provide adequate procedural safeguards when segregating the prison gang affiliates in the Security Housing Unit, and failed to provide inmates with adequate access to the courts.

On January 10, 1995, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Judge Thelton E. Henderson) granted injunctive relief to the plaintiffs, holding that: 1) there was unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain and use of excessive force at the prison; 2) prison officials did not provide inmates with constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care; 3) conditions of confinement in the Security Housing Unit, which included extreme isolation and environmental deprivation, did not inflict cruel and unusual punishment on all inmates, but conditions in the Security Housing Unit did impose cruel and unusual punishment on mentally ill prisoners; 4) some procedures used to validate inmates as gang members and thus transfer them to the Security Housing Unit violated due process. The court then appointed Thomas F. Lonergan to serve as Special Master for the case, and ordered the defendants to pay him $125 per hour. The court ordered the parties to work with the Special Master in good faith to develop a remedial plan addressing the constitutional violations and to submit the plan to the court within 120 days. Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F.Supp. 1146 (N.D.Cal. 1995). The defendants appealed.

The defendants also asked the district court to modify its order that the they must pay the hourly rate of the special master. They argued that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applied retrospectively to this case, and that the PLRA required the court to reset the special master's rate and the judiciary to bear the expense of paying him. On August 23, 1996, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Judge Henderson) denied the request, holding that the PLRA did not apply retroactively to this case because this case did not provide for prospective relief. Madrid v. Gomez, 940 F.Supp. 247 (N.D.Cal. 1996). The defendants appealed this ruling.

On December 24, 1996, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Betty Binns Fletcher, Judge Joseph Jerome Farris, and Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima) denied the appeal, holding that the district court's determinations were not clearly erroneous. Wilson v. U.S. Dist. Court for the Eastern Dist. of California, 103 F.3d 828 (9th Cir. 1996). The defendants appealed. On May 19, 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. Wilson v. U.S. Dist. Court for the Eastern Dist. of California, 520 U.S. 1230 (1997).

On September 21, 1995, the parties stipulated to, and the district court (Judge Henderson) authorized, an "informal process" of expediting the payments of attorneys' fees. Pursuant to the stipulation, the defendants were to pay fees at the current market rate for all legal services that were useful and necessary to ensure compliance. If the defendants ever disputed an amount and refused to pay, the plaintiffs could seek an order from the district court to resolve the dispute. On April 26, 1996, Congress passed the PLRA, which limited the amount of attorneys' fees that can be awarded to prisoners' counsel by capping the maximum hourly rate and prohibiting payment of fees that are not directly and reasonably incurred in proving a violation of prisoners' rights.

On October 28, 1996, the district court (Judge Henderson) made an award of attorneys' fees for legal services performed prior to the enactment of the PLRA, and on June 13, 1997, the district court ordered payment of fees for services performed subsequent to the enactment of the PLRA. In neither case did the district court invoke the PLRA's limitations, reasoning that applying the attorneys' fee limitations to a case which was pending at the time of the statute's enactment would produce a retroactive effect, violating basic notions of fair notice, reasonable reliance, and settled expectations. The defendants appealed.

On July 2, 1998, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Harlington Wood, Jr., Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall, and Judge Diarmuid Fionntain O'Scannlain) reversed the district court's decision with respect to post-enactment fee awards, holding: 1) that the PLRA's attorney-fee provisions apply to all post-enactment awards, regardless of when the case was filed and regardless of when the legal services were provided; 2) that given the attorneys' unsettled expectations when they took the case, the PLRA would not have an improper retroactive effect if applied here; 3) that strict scrutiny did not apply to the prisoners' claim that the PLRA violated their equal protection rights; and 4) that the PLRA's attorney-fee provisions did not violate the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. Madrid v. Gomez, 150 F.3d 1030 (9th Cir. 1998).

On August 30, 1999, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Wood, Judge Hall, and Judge O'Scannlain) superceded their July 2, 1998 decision, partially affirming and partially reversing the previous ruling. The court held: 1) that the fee limitations of the PLRA did not apply to awards that were entered after the PLRA's enactment but covered services performed prior to enactment; 2) that the PLRA's attorney fee limitations still applied to fee awards entered after the PLRA's effective date, covering fees incurred after that date; 3) that strict scrutiny did not apply to the prisoners' claim that the PLRA violated their equal protection rights; and 4) that the PLRA satisfied the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. Madrid v. Gomez, 190 F.3d 990 (9th Cir. 1999).

On November 17, 2004, after a lengthy investigation and report by the new Special Master John Hagar, the district court (Judge Henderson) found a series of systematic problems in the California Department of Corrections' compliance monitoring in the case the Pelican Bay. The court noted that the defendants' system for investigating and disciplining officers was "broken to the core," and that the defendants had deliberately misled the court by filing false reports. The court gave defendant Thomas Moore two weeks to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for misleading the court through false reports. The court then ordered the defendants to work with the Special Master to develop a remedial plan to address the problems with the investigations. The court also partially granted the motion of the California Correctional Peace Officer's Association (CCPOA) to intervene, ordering them to show cause why they should not be sanctioned for misleading the court. Madrid v. Woodford, C90-3094, 2004 WL 2623924 (N.D.Cal. Nov. 17, 2004).

On March 16, 2005, the district court (Judge Henderson) sanctioned defendant Moore in the amount of $1,500.00, payable within two weeks. The court declined to sanction the CCPOA. On January 13, 2006, the district court ordered the defendants to fund and fill the following full time positions at the prison: one additional registered nurse, one additional psychiatrist or psychologist, one additional associate government program analyst, three additional office technician, three additional medical records technicians, two additional primary care providers.

As of October 3, 2008, the last entry on the docket is listed on September 15, 2008. The case appears to be ongoing, with docket updates following about two weeks behind the court's orders.

Kristen Sagar - 10/03/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Personal injury
Sanitation / living conditions
Supermax conditions or process
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) California Department of Corrections
Pelican Bay State Prison
Plaintiff Description prisoners at the Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Prison Law Office
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Private Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement
Order Duration 1995 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PC-CA-0054 : Ashker v. Brown (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
By: Margo Schlanger (University of Michigan)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ 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)
90-3094 (N.D. Cal.) 09/15/2008
PC-CA-0017-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order 01/10/1995 (889 F.Supp. 1146) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0017-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 08/23/1996 (940 F.Supp. 247) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0017-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 12/24/1996 (103 F.3d 828)
PC-CA-0017-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
On Petition for Writ of Certiorari 05/19/1997 (520 U.S. 1230)
PC-CA-0017-7507 WESTLAW | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion 07/02/1998 (150 F.3d 1030)
PC-CA-0017-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Withdrawal of Opinion 07/07/1999 (179 F.3d 1252)
PC-CA-0017-0008 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Opinion 08/30/1999 (190 F.3d 990)
PC-CA-0017-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Special Master’s Final Report Re: Department of Corrections Post Powers Investigations and Employee Discipline 06/24/2004
PC-CA-0017-0001 PDF | Detail
Order Re: (1) Special Master's Report Re: ""Post Powers"" Investigations and Employee Discipline, and (2) CCPOA's Motion to Intervene 11/17/2004 (60 Fed.R.Serv.3d 56) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0017-0009 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges Farris, Joseph Jerome (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0017-0007
Fletcher, William A. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0017-0007
Henderson, Thelton Eugene (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0017-0005 | PC-CA-0017-0006 | PC-CA-0017-0009 | PC-CA-0017-9000
Larson, James L. (E.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PC-CA-0017-9000
O'Scannlain, Diarmuid Fionntain (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0017-0003 | PC-CA-0017-0004
Tashima, Atsushi Wallace (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0017-0007
Monitors/Masters Hagar, John H. Jr. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0001
Lonergan, Thomas F. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bien, Michael W. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0005 | PC-CA-0017-0007
Cassidy, Bernard J. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Creighton, Susan Abouchar (California)
PC-CA-0017-0003 | PC-CA-0017-0004 | PC-CA-0017-0005 | PC-CA-0017-0006 | PC-CA-0017-0007 | PC-CA-0017-0009 | PC-CA-0017-9000
Erickson, Arnold (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Fabela, Robert (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Fama, Steven (California)
PC-CA-0017-0003 | PC-CA-0017-0004 | PC-CA-0017-0005 | PC-CA-0017-0006 | PC-CA-0017-0009 | PC-CA-0017-9000
Good, Sarah A. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Kharazi, H. Ty (California)
PC-CA-0017-0009 | PC-CA-0017-9000
Madrid, Alejandro (California)
PC-CA-0017-0005
McKay, Heather (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Scully, Joanne (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Shearer, J. Peter (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Solomon, Ellen (California)
PC-CA-0017-0003 | PC-CA-0017-0004
Specter, Donald H. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0003 | PC-CA-0017-0004 | PC-CA-0017-0005 | PC-CA-0017-0006 | PC-CA-0017-0009 | PC-CA-0017-9000
Steuer, David S. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0003 | PC-CA-0017-0004 | PC-CA-0017-0006
Vanyo, Bruce G. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Defendant's Lawyers Bancroft, David P. (California)
PC-CA-0017-9000
Caulfield, Richard H. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0005 | PC-CA-0017-0006
Gifford, Paul D. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Hallam, Jeffrey C. (California)
PC-CA-0017-9000
Jenkins, William (California)
PC-CA-0017-0003 | PC-CA-0017-0004 | PC-CA-0017-0005
Jorgenson, Michael W. (California)
PC-CA-0017-9000
Lee, Susan Duncan (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Lundgren, Daniel E. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006 | PC-CA-0017-0007
McKone, Michael M. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0005 | PC-CA-0017-0006
Moss, Jennifer A. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
O'Linn, Mildred K. (California)
PC-CA-0017-9000
Siggins, Peter J. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0001 | PC-CA-0017-0005 | PC-CA-0017-0006 | PC-CA-0017-9000
Slavin, Bruce Michael (California)
PC-CA-0017-0007
Turner, Sara E. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0009 | PC-CA-0017-9000
Williamson, George H. (California)
PC-CA-0017-0006
Wilson, David J. (California)
PC-CA-0017-9000
Other Lawyers Altshuler, Fred H. (California)
PC-CA-0017-9000
Lye, Linda (California)
PC-CA-0017-9000

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The Clearinghouse has been generously supported by the National Science Foundation.