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Case Name Gavin v. Ray PC-IA-0003
Docket / Court 78-62-2 ( S.D. Iowa )
State/Territory Iowa
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On March 14, 1978, an inmate at Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP) filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials at ISP in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Central Division. The plaintiff, represented by the University of Iowa Legal Clinic, ... read more >
On March 14, 1978, an inmate at Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP) filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials at ISP in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Central Division. The plaintiff, represented by the University of Iowa Legal Clinic, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging various practices and policies of disciplinary segregation in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Apparently, in 1981, there was large riot at ISP during which the administration building was burned down, hostages were taken, an inmate was killed and millions of dollars of damage were done; the riot was followed by a prolonged lockdown situation.

On May 3, 1984, after extensive pre-trial processes, the parties entered a settlement agreement respecting disciplinary segregation as well as related issues, including exercise, restraints, use of tear gas, strip cells, and access to the courts. The court approved the agreement on June 13, 1984. The Gavin decree was subsequently modified and supplemented on numerous occasions.

On March 30, 1993, the District Court (Judge Harold D. Vietor) consolidated the case with several others. The United States subsequently intervened as plaintiff.

On August 9, 1996, the District Court (Judge Vietor) denied the defendants' motion to stay the Gavin decree pursuant to the automatic stay requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), holding that a lack of an active and ongoing Gavin decree represented irreparable and irremediable harm to the plaintiff class.

On September 18, 1996, the District Court (Judge Vietor) denied the defendants' motion to terminate the consent decree pursuant to PLRA. Gavin v. Ray, No. 4-78-CV-70062, 1996 WL 622556 (S.D. Iowa, Sept. 18, 1996). The Court held that the termination provisions of the PLRA violated the separation of powers principles and should not be enforced.

On September 19, 1997, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Judge Pasco M. Bowman, II) reversed the District Court's September 18, 1996, decision and remanded. Gavin v. Branstad, 122 F.3d 1081 (8th Cir. 1997). The Court held that the immediate termination provisions did not violate separation of powers, equal protection, or due process. A rehearing was denied on October 7, 1997. The Supreme Court denied certiorari on June 26, 1998. Gavin v. Branstad, 524 U.S. 955 (1998). And the Supreme Court denied a rehearing on October 5, 1998. Gavin v. Branstad, 525 U.S. 923 (1998).

On January 21, 1999, the District Court (Judge Vietor) granted the defendants' motion to terminate the consent decree. The plaintiffs appealed.

On December 22, 1999, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (per curiam) affirmed the District Court's January 21, 1999, termination of the consent decree.

We have no further information on this case.

Josh Altman - 06/27/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Disciplinary segregation
Law library access
Restraints : chemical
Restraints : physical
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Iowa Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description disciplinary segregation inmates at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Ft. Madison, IA
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1984 - 1999
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-IA-0002 : Dee v. Brewer & Hazen v. Reagan (S.D. Iowa)
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)
78-70062 (S.D. Iowa) 03/14/1978
PC-IA-0003-9000 PDF | Detail
General Documents
Ruling and Order Staying Automatic Stay Provision 08/09/1996 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0003-0002 PDF | Detail
Order denying Motion for Termination 09/18/1996 (1996 WL 622556 / 1996 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 20497) (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0003-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Reported Opinion 08/05/1997 (122 F.3d 1081)
PC-IA-0003-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 06/26/1998 (524 U.S. 955)
PC-IA-0003-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Decision 10/05/1998 (525 U.S. 923)
PC-IA-0003-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Bowman, Pasco Middleton II (Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0003-0004
Vietor, Harold Duane (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0003-0002 | PC-IA-0003-0005 | PC-IA-0003-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Schwartz, Barbara A. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0003-0004 | PC-IA-0003-0005 | PC-IA-0003-9000
Whiston, John B. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0003-0002 | PC-IA-0003-0005 | PC-IA-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Gordon E. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0003-0004
Lindebak, Layne M. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0003-0002 | PC-IA-0003-0005 | PC-IA-0003-9000
Other Lawyers Hagen, Christopher D. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0003-0005 | PC-IA-0003-9000
Herwig, Barbara L. (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0003-0005 | PC-IA-0003-9000
Hoyle, John C. (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0003-0004 | PC-IA-0003-0005
Schmann, Jon (District of Columbia)
PC-IA-0003-0002

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