On May 6, 1992, inmates at the Maximum Control Complex in Westville, Indiana (MCC) filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Governor of Indiana, and the State Department of Corrections (DOC), in Marion County Superior Court. The plaintiffs, filing pro se and subsequently represented by ACLU of Indiana, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages, complaining that conditions and practices at the prison violated their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged long term solitary confinement; arbitrary and irrational rules; physical abuse; denial of visitation; inadequate medical, and mental health care; inadequate educational, vocational training, recreational, and rehabilitative programs. Upon motion by the defendants, the case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on May 29, 1992, and ultimately transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana on July 7, 1992.
After consolidating this case with several others, the Court (Chief Judge Allen Sharp) on September 22, 1992 referred the case to Magistrate Judge Robin D. Pierce for settlement conference. Several conferences were held, and a settlement agreement was reached between the two parties. On January 5, 1994, Judge Pierce submitted his report and recommendation that the Court approve the Agreed Entry (AE) reached by the parties. On February 11, the Court (Judge Sharp), noting that the AE went well beyond constitutional minima, adopted the report and recommendation, approved and entered the AE, and terminated the case. Taifa v. Bayh, 846 F. Supp 723 (N.D. Ind. 1994). It went into effect on February 15, 1994. Several inmates appealed the matter despite recommendations by the court that they would not get a better settlement for injunctive relief.
The AE provided for: the assignment of prisoners out of the MCC only under specified conditions; the transfer of prisoners out of the MCC after a specified period of time, provided that certain conditions are met; a commissary at the MCC, with a list of particular items to be made available; inmate access to radios and televisions under specified conditions and at inmate expense; expanded visitation and telephone privileges; the availability of additional reading materials for prisoners; increased opportunities for prisoner recreation; increased privileges with respect to keeping of personal property in cells and in the storage room; improvements in the condition of bedding; a decrease in the intensity of the 24-hour lights in the cells; additional access by prisoners to personal hygienic items; the establishment of a policy concerning the use of force by DOC personnel; expanded provisions for medical care, including mandatory psychiatric evaluations for all prisoners upon their admittance to the MCC; an expanded law library containing specified reference materials, and provisions for greater access to legal materials by prisoners; increased educational opportunities for prisoners; a substance abuse program; and improvements in inmate grievance procedures. Taifa v. Bayh, 846 F. Supp 723 (N.D. Ind. 1994).
On March 15, 1994, the Court (Judge Sharp) reopened the case amidst the several appeals and exceptions taken by some of the inmates. On September 9, 1994, the Court (Judge Sharp) granted a motion by plaintiffs for attorney's fees. After Magistrate Judge Roger B. Cosbey conducted conferences on the matter, he issued a report and recommendation on November 30, 1994, that the order granting fees be vacated. Pursuant to the Seventh Circuit granting appeal on December 12, 1994, the Court (Judge Sharp) vacated the order granting fees to the plaintiffs' attorneys as moot on December 21, 1994.
By May 16, 1994, the Court had received several (and in some cases duplicate) motions for contempt by one of the prisoners. At that time, Judge Sharp issued an order denying all such motions. The motions by the inmate increased in frequency and duplicity until October 24, 1994, when Magistrate Judge Pierce issued a report and recommendation that all of the inmate's motions and objections be denied, and that he be barred from submitting any more before the Court. The inmate was allowed to make motions only when he also presented a sworn affidavit listing the names, dates, and specific allegations, and that the matter had not been previously submitted to the court. The Court (Judge Sharp) accepted and ordered the report and recommendation on November 4, 1994. Taifa v. Bayh, 867 F. Supp 799 (N.D. Ind. 1994).
On August 22, 1995, the Court (Judge Sharp) issued an order regarding the contempt motions filed by several of the inmates in the previous year. On April 6, 1995, several alleged violations of the AE were remedied, and the remaining violations were consolidated to 6 issues before the court. They dealt with: conduct board hearings; law clerks for prisoners with special needs; law library visits, and legal materials for prisoners in disciplinary segregation; availability of prisoner's handbook; classification; and fruit juice availability at the commissary. The Court (Judge Sharp) accepted the report and recommendation of Magistrate Judge Pierce, and denied the contempt motions regarding fruit juice and circulation of the handbook, but granted the other four. Taifa v. Bayh, No. 3:92-cv-0429 AS, 1995 WL 646300 (N.D. Ind. Aug. 22, 1995). Some inmates appealed the matter.
On September 26, 1995, the Court (Judge Sharp) denied a prisoner's motion for contempt regarding classification at MCC. One of the motions referenced in the August 22, 1995, order was a motion for contempt or in the alternative preliminary injunction regarding the placement of the one of the prisoners who felt he was in the MCC in violation of the conditions of the AE. The prisoner asserted a due process violation. The court found that he was afforded the proper hearing and held that he was properly placed. Taifa v. Bayh, No. 3:92-cv-0429 AS, 1995 WL 803816 (N.D. Ind. Sept. 26, 1995).
On February 5, 1996, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner) affirmed the District Court's acceptance of the AE. This was the Seventh Circuit's review of Judge Sharp's February 11, 1994 order, which was appealed by several of the individual plaintiffs. The Seventh Circuit found that there was no abuse of discretion by the District Court and held that the AE was not defeated by allegedly unlawful provisions, and could reasonably be found to be fair and adequate relief. Isby v. Bayh, 75 F.3d 1191 (7th Cir. 1996).
On September 20, 1996, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Judge Kenneth Francis Ripple) reversed and remanded the District Court's order dismissing two contempt motions. On appeal, the defendants argued that because portions of the AE incorporated Indiana State Law, the Eleventh Amendment did not permit a Federal Court to order compliance with state law, and thus review was inappropriate. The Seventh Circuit (Judge Ripple) disagreed, and found that the AE only borrowed relevant definitions from the state law, and did not rely on state law for enforcement. Komyatti v. Bayh, 96 F.3d 955 (7th Cir. 1996). The Court (Judge Ripple) reversed the August 22, 1995 order of the District Court denying two of the six contempt motions, and remanded the case for proceedings consistent.
On June 6, 1996, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana disposed of an individual plaintiff's damages claims against the defendants. The Court (Magistrate Judge Pierce) found that the plaintiff's claims were unclear as to whether damages occurred before or after the February 15, 1994 AE went into effect, making them possibly moot. The complaint and hearings were also unclear about who was actually injured, as several witnesses talked about their own injuries, not those of the individually complaining inmate. The Court found no actual constitutional damages claim either. Judge Pierce recommended that the Eleventh Amendment should bar individual damages suit against the defendants in their official capacities, and since the plaintiff made no specific complaint to any defendant in his or her individual capacity, the complaint should be held moot. Taifa v. Bayh, No. 3:92-cv-0429 AS, 1996 WL 441809 (N.D. Ind. June 6, 1996). On July 24, 1996, Chief Judge Sharp adopted and ordered the report and recommendation. Isby v. Bayh, No. 3:92-cv-0429 AS, 1996 WL 441820 (N.D. Ind. July 24, 1996).
Simultaneously, the Court (Judge Sharp) was granting motions to temporarily modify the AE consistent with terms of both parties. Two such modifications occurred on June 6, 1996 and July 22, 1996. The AE was then permanently modified on October 8, 1996. The specific content of the modifications is unknown.
On September 12, 1997, the Court (Judge Sharp) reaffirmed the disposal of injunctive claims pursuant to the partial judgment of February 15, 1994. Then, on December 18, 1997, the Court denied a non-party plaintiff's complaint of violation of the AE regarding limitations on shower time, law library access time, and recreation time. Various inmates filed more motions for contempt and all were denied, until on August 7, 2003, the defendants filed a motion to terminate all prospective relief granted and approved so far. On October 27, 2003, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana (Judge Sharp) granted the motion to terminate relief pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), disposed of all motions before the Court, and terminated the case.
On May 1, 2006, class member Eric D. Smith filed a pro se motion for contempt against defendants alleging several violations of the AE. On May 3, 2006, the defendants responded to the contempt motion by noting that the case and the AE had been terminated and thus there was not an existing order in place for the court to enforce. Smith replied by alleging that he was never given notice of the October 27, 2003 termination order, and prayed for relief from the court against the resurgence of old practices at the MCC. Following a hearing on September 11, 2006, the District Court (Judge Sharp) denied Smith's contempt motion as moot. Another non-party class member filed a pro se motion for contempt on July 30, 2009. Within the week, the District Court denied the motion, referring the potential class member to class counsel.Greg Venker - 03/06/2007
Maurice Youkanna - 07/16/2014