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Case Name Thomas v. Pate PC-IL-0006
Docket / Court 71-1410 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In approximately 1971, two black inmates of the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois, filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Illinois Department of Correction, Illinois State Penitentiary, and the penitentiary's warden in the United States District Court for the ... read more >
In approximately 1971, two black inmates of the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois, filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Illinois Department of Correction, Illinois State Penitentiary, and the penitentiary's warden in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, challenged racial discrimination in vocational and educational offerings, cruel and unusual conditions of disciplinary cells, the lack of due process in disciplinary proceedings, denial of medical care, and obstructing inmates' access to the courts.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Judge Richard B. Austin) dismissed portions of the plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and found no racial discrimination at the prison. On January 10, 1974, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Judge Thomas Edward Fairchild) reversed and remanded. Thomas v. Pate, 493 F.2d 151 (7th Cir. 1974). The court held that prison authorities had to answer inmates' racial discrimination allegations because the plaintiffs showed that racial separation existed. In addition, the court held that an inmate could establish a claim based on inadequate health care if a known drug allergy was ignored or if treatment was delayed to the detriment of the inmate by solitary confinement. The court also ordered the District Court to hear the plaintiff's due process claims.

On October 15, 1974, the United States Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs' petition for a writ of certiorari. Thomas v. Pate, 419 U.S. 879 (1974). Also on October 14, 1974, the Court granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari, vacated the judgment, remanded for further consideration in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), and permitted the prisoners to proceed in forma pauperis. Cannon v. Thomas, 419 U.S. 813 (1974), reh'g denied, 419 U.S. 1041 (1974).

On remand, the Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's dismissal of the due process claims and remanded. Thomas v. Pate, 516 F.2d 889 (7th Cir. 1975) (per curiam), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 877 (1975). The Seventh Circuit held that the complaint was sufficient to state a due process claim under general constitutional principles. The court noted that, because the due process violations were already alleviated, the plaintiffs' due process claim would likely be dismissed on remand.

The file contains no other information.

Elizabeth Chilcoat - 06/01/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Education
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Illinois Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Black inmates at state penitentiary alleging violations of their civil rights
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
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)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Reported Opinion 01/10/1974 (493 F.2d 151)
PC-IL-0006-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 10/15/1974 (419 U.S. 879)
PC-IL-0006-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
[Grant, Vacate, Remand] 10/15/1974 (419 U.S. 813)
PC-IL-0006-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
On remand from the supreme court, per curiam 03/25/1975 (516 F.2d 889)
PC-IL-0006-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 10/06/1975 (423 U.S. 877)
PC-IL-0006-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion [Denying Petition for Rehearing] 11/25/1997 (419 U.S. 1041)
PC-IL-0006-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Douglas, William Orville (SCOTUS)
PC-IL-0006-0003
Fairchild, Thomas Edward (Seventh Circuit)
PC-IL-0006-0001 | PC-IL-0006-0002
Kilkenny, John Francis (Ninth Circuit, D. Or.)
PC-IL-0006-0001 | PC-IL-0006-0002
Stevens, John Paul (Seventh Circuit, SCOTUS)
PC-IL-0006-0001 | PC-IL-0006-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers McNown, Lynne E. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0006-0001 | PC-IL-0006-0002
Solovy, Jerold S. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0006-0001 | PC-IL-0006-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Holum, Thomas E. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0006-0001
Noel, Melbourne A. Jr. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0006-0001 | PC-IL-0006-0002
Scott, William J. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0006-0001 | PC-IL-0006-0002
Zagel, James Block (Illinois)
PC-IL-0006-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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