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Case Name Toussaint v. McCarthy / Wright v. Enonmoto PC-CA-0023
Docket / Court 73-1422 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection California's Prisoners' Rights Bar article
Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization MALDEF
Prison Law Office
Case Summary
In 1973, prisoners confined in administrative segregation in four California state prisons - San Quentin, Folsom, Dueul Vocational Institute at Tracy, and the Correctional Training Facility at Soledad - filed a class-action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the California Department of ... read more >
In 1973, prisoners confined in administrative segregation in four California state prisons - San Quentin, Folsom, Dueul Vocational Institute at Tracy, and the Correctional Training Facility at Soledad - 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 sought relief on two claims: 1) that they had been placed in administrative segregation without any procedural examination of whether they should be there, and 2) that they had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment due to the poor conditions in which they were confined.

The administrative segregation claim was tried in a separate case called Wright v. Enomoto. In that lawsuit, a three-judge panel granted relief, finding that the plaintiffs' rights had been violated by a lack of due process when they were placed into administrative segregation. Wright v. Enomoto, 462 F.Supp. 397 (N.D.Cal. 1976). The defendants appealed this finding, and the Supreme Court affirmed it two years later. Wright v. Enomoto, 434 U.S. 1052 (1978).

This case involved the second claim for relief, in which the plaintiffs argued that their constitutional rights had been violated by poor conditions of confinement, including physical conditions, sanitation, food services, educational practices, medical services, placement and retention procedures, and the psychological impact of confinement in administrative segregation. On November 3, 1980, the District Court (Judge Stanley A. Weigel) granted a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs, finding that the totality of conditions at Deuel, San Quentin, and Soledad were unconstitutional. The Court did not find that any specific part of the prison was unconstitutional, but the Court felt that the conditions as a whole were not good enough. The defendants appealed. On March 13, 1981, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Joseph Tyree Sneed III) vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded the case for reconsideration. The Court found that the District Court had erred in its use of the "totality of conditions" approach, finding that only specific unconstitutional conditions may be remedied by the Eighth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit chided the District Court for trying to institute a prison reform program on its own under the guise of correcting cruel and unusual punishment. Wright v. Rushen, 642 F.2d 1129 (9th Cir. 1981).

On remand two years later, the District Court (Judge Weigel) re-issued the preliminary injunction, finding that specific conditions of confinement, including double-celling in small, window-less cells, inadequate lighting, heating, ventilation and plumbing, poor sanitation, inadequate food service, and inadequate medical care, were unconstitutional because they violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Toussaint v. Rushen, 553 F.Supp. 1366 (N.D.Cal. 1983).

The defendants appealed, and on January 5, 1984, the Ninth Circuit (Judge William Cameron Canby, Jr.) partially affirmed and partially vacated the District Court's issuance of the preliminary injunction, finding that the District Court's finding that double-celling engendered violence, tension, and psychiatric problems, as well as the finding that physical conditions of the cells were inadequate, were valid. The Ninth Circuit vacated the portion of the injunction specifying the types and quantities of food that the inmates must be provided was invalid and must be overturned. Toussaint v. Yockey, 722 F.2d 1490 (9th Cir. 1984).

On October 18, 1984, following a trial on the merits, the District Court held that the conditions of confinement were unconstitutional with respect to double-celling, heating, ventilation, lighting, noise, plumbing, food preparation and storage, access to courts, clothing, laundry, and bedding. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 597 F.Supp. 1388 (N.D.Cal. 1984). The defendants appealed.

On September 30, 1986, the Ninth Circuit (Judge Robert R. Beezer) partially affirmed and partially vacated the District Court's opinion, remanding it for reconsideration. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit held that 1) due process required only that prison officials hold an informal nonadversary hearing within a reasonable time after the prisoner is placed in segregation, inform him of the charges against him, and give him an opportunity to present his views, 2) that it was error for the District Court to substitute its views for those of the prison administrator in determining when a prisoner should be released, 3) that review of segregation should be conducted more frequently than annually, 4) that the decision to place a prisoner in segregated confinement must be supported by some evidence, 5) that complaints about medical care did not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation, and 6) that the denial of contact visits and work programs did not violate the Eighth Amendment. Toussaint v. McCarthy 801 F.2d 1080 (9th Cir. 1986). The parties sought Supreme Court review, and on May 26, 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. McCarthy v. Toussaint, 481 U.S. 1069 (1987).

On remand on April 20, 1989, the District Court (Judge Weigel) held that the review of indeterminate segregation decisions was required to occur every 90 days, that the defendants must undergo special procedures before placing inmates in indeterminate segregation, and that the defendants could not rely on polygraph examinations regarding gang affiliations as the basis for assigning prisoners to segregation. Toussaint v. Rowland, 711 F.Supp. 536 (N.D.Cal. 1989).

Both parties appealed, and on October 30, 1990, the Ninth Circuit (Judge John T. Noonan, Jr.) partially affirmed and partially reversed, holding that the continued appointment of a monitor to review decisions to assign inmates to segregation for administrative reasons was unwarranted. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 926 F.2d 800 (9th Cir. 1990). The parties sought Supreme Court review, and on October 7, 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 502 U.S. 874 (1991).

On June 29, 1992, the District Court (Stanley Weigel) entered a judgment that noted that the case was being "dismissed," but apparently continuing post-judgment monitoring. (We have only the docket sheet, not the order itself.) The state appealed this and other orders relating to fees, but the parties then agreed to dismissal of those appeals in July 1994. In January 1997, the parties jointly applied to vacate the injunctions and finally dismiss the case. The Court agreed, dismissing the case with prejudice on Feb. 13, 1997.

Kristen Sagar - 10/08/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Administrative segregation
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Disciplinary segregation
Education
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Protective custody
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Totality of conditions
Visiting
Medical/Mental Health
Medical 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
Plaintiff Description prisoners confined in administrative segregation in four California state prisons – San Quentin, Folsom, Dueul Vocational Institute at Tracy, and the Correctional Training Facility at Soledad
Indexed Lawyer Organizations MALDEF
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 Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1976 - 1997
Case Closing Year 1997
Case Ongoing No
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)
C-73-1422 SAW (N.D. Cal.) 11/25/1997
PC-CA-0023-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgment 09/30/1976 (462 F.Supp. 397) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memo Decision 02/21/1978 (434 U.S. 1052)
PC-CA-0023-0014 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Opinion 02/12/1981 (642 F.2d 1129)
PC-CA-0023-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on Granting Preliminary Injunction 01/14/1983 (553 F.Supp. 1365) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 01/05/1984 (722 F.2d 1490)
PC-CA-0023-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law 10/18/1984 (597 F.Supp. 1388) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order on motion for adjudication of contempt 10/18/1984 (597 F.Supp. 1427) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 09/30/1986 (801 F.2d 1080)
PC-CA-0023-0008 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 05/26/1987 (481 U.S. 1069)
PC-CA-0023-0017 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order affirming magistrate's order on defendants' motion for recoupment of attorneys' fees 07/16/1987 (662 F.Supp. 1583) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0011 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 07/29/1987 (826 F.2d 901)
PC-CA-0023-0012 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 03/31/1988 (849 F.2d 380)
PC-CA-0023-0013 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order 04/20/1989 (711 F.Supp. 536) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0009 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 08/06/1990 (909 F.2d 1489)
PC-CA-0023-0015 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Opinion 10/30/1990 (918 F.2d 752)
PC-CA-0023-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 02/27/1991 (926 F.2d 800)
PC-CA-0023-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 10/07/1991 (502 U.S. 874)
PC-CA-0023-0016 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Beezer, Robert R. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0012 | PC-CA-0023-0013
Brazil, Wayne D. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PC-CA-0023-9000
Canby, William Cameron Jr. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0013 | PC-CA-0023-0015
Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (SCOTUS, Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0012
Kozinski, Alex (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0013
Noonan, John T. Jr. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002
Rea, William J. (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0015
Schroeder, Mary Murphy (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0015
Sneed, Joseph Tyree III (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0004
Weigel, Stanley Alexander (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Wright, Eugene Allen (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0012
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Arriola, Anita P. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Asaro, Andrea G. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Baller, Morris J. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Bergesen, B. E. III (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003
Chambers, Julius LeVonne (New York)
PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Chavez, Mark A. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0013
Comiskey, Paul Wayne (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005
Fama, Steven (California)
PC-CA-0023-0009
Fiering, Susan S. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0009
Fins, Deborah (New York)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Flanagan, Sarah G. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Goldblatt, Ellen Sue (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Greenberg, Jack (New York)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Hernandez, Antonia (California)
PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Hulett, Denise M. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0009
Jones, Constance M. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0008
Lew, David (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006
Littlefield, Margaret (California)
PC-CA-0023-0011
Martinez, Vilma S. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003
Miller, Samuel R. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Phillips, Barbara Y. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Resnick, Andrea (California)
PC-CA-0023-0006
Reynolds, Gary P. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0004
Rosen, Sanford Jay (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0004 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011 | PC-CA-0023-0012 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Satris, Michael H. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Smith, James F. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006
Specter, Donald H. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Sturdevant, James C. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Ternus, Frances (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005
Turner, William Bennett (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003
Wolinsky, Sidney M. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Zimmerman, Bernard S. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Defendant's Lawyers Buzzell, C. Michael (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003
Cuneo, James B. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005
Dove, Thomas P. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Gifford, Paul D. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0008
Lungren, Daniel E. (California)
PC-CA-0023-9000
Mayer, Karl S. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Murphy, John T. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0004
OReilley, Michael D. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0011
Prahl, William G. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005
Prince, George D. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002
Rivlin, Catherine A. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0012
Siggins, Peter J. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Slavin, Bruce Michael (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0011 | PC-CA-0023-0013 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Stein, William D. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0006
Utz, Jerome C. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003
Van de Kamp, John K. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Williamson, George H. (California)
PC-CA-0023-9000
Younger, Evelle J. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003
Other Lawyers None on record

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