University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Johnson v. Galley PC-MD-0003
Docket / Court 77-113 ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
In 1977, inmates at the Maryland House of Correction ("MHC") filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The plaintiffs, who were represented in part by the ... read more >
In 1977, inmates at the Maryland House of Correction ("MHC") filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The plaintiffs, who were represented in part by the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the defendants had violated their constitutional rights by allowing MHC to become dangerously overcrowded, subjecting them to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In 1978, a similar lawsuit was filed challenging the conditions at the Maryland Correctional Institute ("MCI") at Hagerstown, Maryland. The cases were subsequently consolidated.

On May 17, 1978, the District Court (Judge Alexander Harvey II) granted declaratory and injunctive relief to the plaintiffs, finding that the prison was unconstitutionally overcrowded and ordering the prison to discontinue the use of double-celling. The Court ruled that the parties to the lawsuit must try to agree upon an appropriate plan for elimination of overcrowding, warning that if no agreement could be reached, the court would itself determine what relief would be entered. Johnson v. Levine, 450 F.Supp. 648 (D.Md. 1978). The defendants appealed.

In the interim, the defendants came forth with a plan involving construction of a new facility, conversion of an old facility, and early release of prisoners that were believed to be appropriate for release. They claimed that under this plan, the overcrowded conditions would be gone by June 1, 1980. On December 13, 1978, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a per curiam opinion partially affirming the District Court's decision, holding that the prisons were unconstitutionally overcrowded, but finding that the defendants' plan to alleviate overcrowding deserved judicial approval. Johnson v. Levine, 588 F.2d 1378 (4th Cir. 1978).

We are unsure about whether the District Court adopted the defendants' proposed plan, but in 1983, the parties entered into a stipulated agreement providing for population caps and other procedures to address the conditions at both facilities. In 1987, the plaintiffs moved to modify that agreement. As a result of negotiations, the parties entered into a new stipulated agreement on July 8, 1987, resolving a majority of the claims raised by the plaintiffs.

On December 3, 1987, the parties agreed to a supplemental stipulated agreement resolving the remaining issues. These agreements provided comprehensive prospective relief governing a broad spectrum of issues: population limitations, double-celling, environmental conditions, repair and replacement of windows, plumbing fixtures, painted surfaces, roofing, ventilation systems, food services, security, work programs, recreational programs, educational programs, and healthcare. The District Court approved these agreements on February 19, 1988.

On March 8, 1990, the parties jointly stipulated that there were still critical issues in the areas of healthcare, nutrition, environmental conditions, fire safety, and population limits at both institutions involved in this litigation. The parties agreed that the plaintiffs' experts would work together with the defendants to develop specific plans to come into compliance with the stipulated agreements. In return, the defendants agreed not to increase the population at either facility until they were back within the proper population limits, except in an emergency and after notification of the plaintiffs' attorney.

During the negotiations that followed, the parties compiled a list of 83 repairs that needed to be maid at the two facilities. The prison officials provided a timetable of projected dates for completing the repairs, but insisted that they were tentative and conditions at all times on obtaining needed funding. Over the next year, the prison officials made substantial progress in completing the repairs, finishing 69 of the 83 items by July 31, 1991. On June 7, 1991, the prisoners asked the District Court to convert the timetable into a court order and to fine the prison officials $1000 per day for each day that the improvements were delayed, following a 30-day grace period.

On September 19, 1991, the District Court (Judge William M. Nickerson) issued an order approving the timetable as an official agreement (over the objections of the defendants), but denying the request for automatic penalties. The defendants appealed, and on February 22, 1993, the Fourth Circuit (James Harvie Wilkinson III) reversed the District Court's order and held that the timetable could not be enforced as an agreement between the parties. Johnson v. Robinson 987 F.2d 1043 (4th Cir. 1993).

On October 15, 1996, the defendants asked the District Court to terminate the consent decrees in this case pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). The plaintiffs objected, arguing that the PLRA was unconstitutional. On February 26, 1997, the District Court (Judge Nickerson) held that the PLRA was constitutional and that it required the immediate termination of the consent decrees and stipulations that had been approved by the Court in this case because the plaintiffs were unable to point to any ongoing constitutional violation.

Kristen Sagar - 10/01/2007


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
General
Education
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
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) Maryland Correctional Institution
Plaintiff Description prisoners of the State of Maryland
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1978 - 1997
Case Closing Year 1997
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-MD-0007 : Nelson v. Collins (D. Md.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
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
Opinion 05/17/1978 (450 F.Supp. 648) (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0003-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 12/13/1978 (588 F.2d 1378)
PC-MD-0003-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Stipulation 08/28/1985
PC-MD-0003-0001 PDF | Detail
Stipulation Agreement 10/05/1987
PC-MD-0003-0002 PDF | Detail
Supplemental Stipulated Agreement 12/23/1987 (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0003-0003 PDF | Detail
Stipulation of Facts and Agreed Resolution 03/08/1990
PC-MD-0003-0004 PDF | Detail
Opinion 02/22/1993 (987 F.2d 1043)
PC-MD-0003-0008 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum & Order 02/26/1997 (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0003-0005 PDF | Detail
Judges Butzner, John Decker Jr. (E.D. Va., Fourth Circuit)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Harvey, Alexander II (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0003-0001 | PC-MD-0003-0002 | PC-MD-0003-0003 | PC-MD-0003-0006
Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (Fourth Circuit)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Luttig, J. Michael (Fourth Circuit)
PC-MD-0003-0008
Nickerson, William M. (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0003-0005
Russell, Donald Stuart (D.S.C., Fourth Circuit)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Widener, Hiram Emory Jr. (W.D. Va., Fourth Circuit)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Wilkinson, James Harvie III (Fourth Circuit)
PC-MD-0003-0008
Winter, Harrison Lee (D. Md., Fourth Circuit)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aiyetoro, Adjoa A. (District of Columbia)
PC-MD-0003-0002 | PC-MD-0003-0003 | PC-MD-0003-0004 | PC-MD-0003-0008
Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)
PC-MD-0003-0008
Bekman, Paul D. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0002 | PC-MD-0003-0003 | PC-MD-0003-0004 | PC-MD-0003-0006 | PC-MD-0003-0007
Boteler, Sandra D. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Coe, Ward B. III (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0008
Elcano, Mary S. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia)
PC-MD-0003-0008
Fishman, Richard G. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0007
North, Richard L. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Pierson, W. Michel (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0002 | PC-MD-0003-0003 | PC-MD-0003-0004
Steele, Nevett Jr. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0002 | PC-MD-0003-0003 | PC-MD-0003-0004 | PC-MD-0003-0006 | PC-MD-0003-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Burch, Francis B. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0006 | PC-MD-0003-0007
Caplis, Stephen B. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0006 | PC-MD-0003-0007
Coshnear, Lawrence B. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0001 | PC-MD-0003-0007
Curran, John Joseph Jr. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0008
Dantes, Phillip G. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0001
Finan, W. Timothy (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0006
Kastendieck, Richard H. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0002 | PC-MD-0003-0003 | PC-MD-0003-0004 | PC-MD-0003-0008
Nathan, Stuart M. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0008
Nilson, George A. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Plitt, Emory A. Jr. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0001 | PC-MD-0003-0002 | PC-MD-0003-0003 | PC-MD-0003-0004
Sachs, Stephen H. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0001
Sharp, Clarence W. (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0007
Shepard, Carmen Mercedes (Maryland)
PC-MD-0003-0008
Other Lawyers Hall, Oliver B. (District of Columbia)
PC-MD-0003-0008

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -