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Case Name Diaz v. Romer PC-CO-0001
Docket / Court 77-C-103 ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On November 30, 1977, an inmate at the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City ("Old Max") filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against the Governor of Colorado, several senators, the Department of Corrections, and ... read more >
On November 30, 1977, an inmate at the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City ("Old Max") filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against the Governor of Colorado, several senators, the Department of Corrections, and administrators of the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City, Colorado. The class consisted of all persons who were or would be incarcerated in a maximum security unit of Old Max. The ACLU and the National Prison Project represented the class. The class sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the totality of conditions at the Old Max violated various constitutional rights of the inmates confined there.

After extensive discovery and a five week trial, the District Court (Judge John L. Kane Jr.) ruled from the bench on November 15, 1979 and issued a memorandum opinion and order on December 20, 1979. Ramos v. Lamm, 485 F. Supp. 122 (D. Colo. 1979). The court held that the conditions at Old Max constituted various statutory and constitutional violations. Specifically, the conditions included insufficient living space with inadequate sanitation, ventilation, light, heat, noise control, and fire safety; lack of protection from violence; pervasive idleness because of lack of productive activity; inadequate health care; unnecessarily restrictive classification of inmates. The court ordered that the Old Max facility be closed, but temporarily stayed its order on the condition that the State take immediate states to provide the plaintiff class with basic human needs and that the State present a detailed plan regarding the protection of the plaintiff class from further constitutional violations.

The defendants appealed. On September 25, 1980, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Judge William Judson Holloway, Jr.) affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the District Court. Ramos v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559 (10th Cir. 1980). The court held that the District Court did not err in refusing to abstain from deciding the case, that the District Court did not err in finding Eighth Amendment violations in the areas of shelter, sanitation, food, safety, and health care, and a finding of a violation of the right of access to the courts. The court also upheld the District Court's ruling regarding the mail policies at Old Max. The court set aside the District Court's rulings regarding visitation restrictions, finding that the restrictions imposed were not unreasonable and serve legitimate penal concerns, and regarding idleness, classification and motility, because those areas were not of constitutional dimension. The Tenth Circuit vacated the remedial order and remanded the case for further proceedings. Both parties petitioned for writ of certiorari and were denied on April 6, 1981. Ramos v. Lamm, 450 U.S. 1041 (1981); Lamm v. Ramos, 450 U.S. 1041 (1981).

The plaintiffs applied for attorneys' fees and the District Court (Judge Kane) awarded fees and costs on March 17, 1982. Ramos v. Lamm, 539 F. Supp. 730 (D. Colo. 1982). The defendants' appealed the award of attorneys' costs and fees and the Tenth Circuit (Judge James Kenneth Logan) established guidelines for the award of attorneys' fees under the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and remanded for further proceedings. Ramos v. Lamm, 713 F.2d 546 (10th Cir. 1983). The District Court (Judge Kane) re-evaluated the fees and costs and determined an award on June 3, 1985, which was withdrawn upon the parties' objections and requests for another hearing on the matter. On March 27, 1986, the District Court (Judge Kane) again evaluated attorneys' fees and costs and awarded the plaintiffs' attorneys a total of $1,059,913.45 less the amount the defendant had previously paid. Ramos v. Lamm, 632 F. Supp. 376 (D. Colo. 1986).

Sometime between 1986 and 1990, Ramos v. Lamm became Diaz v. Romer. On August 7, 1985, the District Court entered a Consent Order directing defendants to comply with numerous provisions in the operation of three facilities. The case was to terminate within eighteen months of the order. As a result of changed circumstances, the 1985 Consent Order remained in effect. On March 21, 1989, the court entered the Amended (Master) Consent Order, which maintained and modified the provisions of the 1985 order. The plaintiffs continued to investigate and monitor the conditions at the facilities, and compliance with the court orders. In February 1990, the plaintiffs raised the issue of defendants' compliance with the Court's orders and filed a formal pleading.

After substantial discovery and negotiations, the parties made a Joint Motion for Entry of an Amended Consent Order. In September 1990, during the fairness hearing, the District Court (Judge James R. Carrigan) created two sub-classes of plaintiffs (those who were HIV positive, and those who were HIV negative). On March 7, 1990, the court refused to approve the provision of the consent order regarding the policies for HIV testing. The defendants appealed these decisions. On April 20, 1992, the Tenth Circuit (Judge Monroe G. McKay) affirmed the decision of the District Court. Diaz v. Romer, 961 F.2d 1508 (10th Cir. 1992).

On February 24, 1992, the parties made another joint motion for the approval of proposed settlement agreements. The proposed settlement agreements were to settle three class action lawsuits (this case (previously Ramos v. Lamm), Nolasco v. Romer (Docket No. 90-00340), and Arguello v. Romer (Docket No. 88-01335)) each challenging conditions of confinement in Colorado prisons. On June 12, 1992, the District Court (Judge Carrigan) granted the motion and approved the settlement agreements. Diaz v. Romer, 801 F. Supp. 405 (D. Colo. 1992). The Tenth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision on October 21, 1993. Diaz v. Romer, 9 F.3d 116 (10th Cir. 1993).

The settlement agreement for Diaz v. Romer provided for the hiring of a full-time medical director, the hiring of an additional full-time psychiatrist, the establishment of a unit for the chronically mentally ill, and the hiring of forty-eight additional correctional and health care staff. The agreement further provided that inmates would not be double-bunked for a two-year period, unless necessary for renovations. The defendants agreed to arrange for qualified representatives from the American Correctional Association or the National Institute of Corrections to review the operations of the correctional facilities. The Settlement Agreement dissolved all previous consent orders of the District Court, and the court only retained jurisdiction to insure compliance with the settlement agreement.

Nolasco v. Romer and Arguello v. Romer had not proceeded to trial, unlike Diaz v. Romer. These two cases challenged the conditions at Colorado correctional facilities as unconstitutional. The jointly submitted settlement agreement in these cases appears to be substantially similar to the agreement in Diaz v. Romer. The only obvious difference is the obligation of the defendants to provide sex offenders with sex offender treatment. The court dismissed these cases with prejudice and ordered the parties to carry out the terms of the agreement.

In response to the motion filed by a member of the plaintiff class attacking the final judgment and dismissal of the class action, the District Court ruled that the class action was closed and that any motion should be filed by the class counsel. On November 30, 1993, the Tenth Circuit (per curiam) affirmed the District Court's decision. Diaz v. Romer, 13 F.3d 405 (10th Cir. 1993).

The case appears to be closed.

Kaitlin Corkran - 06/06/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Fire safety
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Buena Vista Correctional Facility
Colorado Department of Corrections
Colorado State Penitentiary
Colorado Women's Correctional Facility
Fremont Correctional Facility
Plaintiff Description All persons who were or would be incarcerated in the maximum security unit of the Colorado State penitentiary. Later, the class became all persons who were or would be confined in three specific correctional facilities in Colorado.
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 Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1985 - 1994
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-CO-0004 : Nolasco v. Romer (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0005 : Ramos v. Lamm (D. Colo.)
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)
88-1335 (D. Colo.) 11/08/1994
PC-CO-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
90-cv-00340-JRC (D. Colo.) 11/08/1994
PC-CO-0001-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion and Order 12/20/1979 (485 F.Supp. 122) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0001-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 09/25/1980 (639 F.2d 559)
PC-CO-0001-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Petition for writ of certiorari denied 04/06/1981 (450 U.S. 1041)
PC-CO-0001-0012 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order 08/26/1981 (520 F.Supp. 1059) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0001-0009 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order Awarding Attorneys Fees 03/26/1982 (539 F.Supp. 730) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0001-0008 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 06/15/1983 (713 F.2d 546)
PC-CO-0001-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order 04/08/1986 (632 F.Supp. 376) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0001-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Final Agreement and Stipulation 02/24/1992 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Reported Opinion 04/20/1992 (961 F.2d 1508)
PC-CO-0001-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 06/12/1992 (801 F.Supp. 405) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0001-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order and Judgment 10/21/1993 (9 F.3d 116)
PC-CO-0001-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Order and Judgment 11/30/1993 (13 F.3d 405)
PC-CO-0001-0011 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Barrett, James Emmett (FISCR, Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0001-0005
Brorby, Wade (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0001-0011
Carrigan, James R. (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0001-0003 | PC-CO-0001-9000 | PC-CO-0001-9001
Ebel, David M. (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0001-0010
Holloway, William Judson Jr. (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0001-0005
Kane, John L. Jr. (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0001-0004 | PC-CO-0001-0007 | PC-CO-0001-0008 | PC-CO-0001-0009
Logan, James Kenneth (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0001-0005 | PC-CO-0001-0006 | PC-CO-0001-0011
McKay, Monroe G. (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Seymour, Stephanie Kulp (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0001-0010
Thompson, Ralph Gordon (D.D.C., W.D. Okla.)
PC-CO-0001-0010
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barajas, Johnny C. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-9001
Black, Steven W. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0001 | PC-CO-0001-0003 | PC-CO-0001-9000
Downing, Peter W. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Gottschalk, Hugh Q. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0004 | PC-CO-0001-0005
Haddon, Harold A. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Hartley, James Edward (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0001 | PC-CO-0001-0002 | PC-CO-0001-0003 | PC-CO-0001-0005 | PC-CO-0001-0009 | PC-CO-0001-9000 | PC-CO-0001-9001
Jester, Jay S. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-9001
Kahn, Edwin S. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0006 | PC-CO-0001-0007 | PC-CO-0001-0008
Knowles, Ralph I. Jr. (Georgia)
PC-CO-0001-0004 | PC-CO-0001-0005
Lane, David A. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Lopez, Mark J. (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0001-9001
McKinnon, Caroline M. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Miller, David H. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0001 | PC-CO-0001-0002 | PC-CO-0001-9000 | PC-CO-0001-9001
Mueller, Norman R. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Spiller, Dudley P. Jr. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0004 | PC-CO-0001-9001
Wiesenberg, Peggy A. (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0001-0004 | PC-CO-0001-0005
Defendant's Lawyers Bromley, Tarquin Jay (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0005 | PC-CO-0001-0008 | PC-CO-0001-0009
Dailey, John Daniel (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0007
de Raismes, Joseph N. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0004
Farley, Paul (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0001 | PC-CO-0001-0002 | PC-CO-0001-0003
Forman, Richard H. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Goldberg, Richard H. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0004
Hennessey, Richard F. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0005 | PC-CO-0001-0006
Higgins, William J. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0001 | PC-CO-0001-0003 | PC-CO-0001-9000 | PC-CO-0001-9001
Howe, Charles B. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Little, David Russell (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-9000
Lizza, John August (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
MacFarlane, John D. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0004 | PC-CO-0001-0005 | PC-CO-0001-0006
Marquez, Anthony (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0001 | PC-CO-0001-0003 | PC-CO-0001-9000 | PC-CO-0001-9001
Mikulecky, Scott Joseph (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-9000
Mullarkey, Mary J. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0005 | PC-CO-0001-0006
Norton, Gale A. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Parsons, John R. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Phelan, Maureen E. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0004
Rees, David K. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0005 | PC-CO-0001-0006
Sammons, Sarah Scott (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0005
Solano, Henry L. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0004
Sousa, Dennis (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0004
Tymkovich, Timothy M. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Weinman, Jeffrey (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0004
Widick, Barbara L. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Woodward, Duane (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0002
Other Lawyers Cherner, Philip Alan (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-9001
Dufford, Philip G. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0005
Risner, Michael T. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0005
Robb, William C. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0001-0005

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