University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Russell v. Johnson PC-MS-0003
Docket / Court 02-261 ( N.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On July 12, 2002, death row inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi against the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Plaintiffs were represented by the ... read more >
On July 12, 2002, death row inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi against the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Plaintiffs were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and private attorneys. The suit alleged that the inmates were subjected to isolation, lack of exercise, inadequate ventilation, unsanitary conditions, and lack of mental heath care. On July 15, 2002, Chief Judge Glen H. Davidson denied plaintiffs' motion for temporary relief and preliminary injunction to stop the execution of one of the plaintiffs. Russell v. Johnson, 210 F.Supp.2d 804 (N.D. Miss. 2002). On July 18, 2002, Judge Davidson issued an order incorporating this case into Gates, et al v. Collier, et al (PC-MS-001), an ongoing prisoners' rights class action. On October 25, 2002, Magistrate Judge Jerry A. Davis consolidated the cases, naming these plaintiffs a sub-class in Gates.

Following a non-jury trial, the District Court (Magistrate Judge Davis) found that there were constitutional violations in the areas of ventilation, sanitation, lighting, laundry services, and mental health care. Russell v. Johnson, 2003 WL 22208029 (N.D. Miss. May 21, 2003). Judge Davis ordered the defendants to ensure that inmates not be required to clean their own cell when they move into one, provide inmates with cleaning supplies, create a maintenance schedule, provide inmates with fans when the temperature is above 90 degrees, improve plumbing and laundry conditions, and provide each inmate with a private mental health evaluation. Defendants appealed.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Judge James L. Dennis) affirmed in part and vacated in part the District Court's judgment. Gates v. Cook, 376 F.3d 323 (5th Cir. 2004). After holding that the district court did not err in allowing this case to proceed separately from Gates v. Collier, No. 71-6 (PC-MS-1), the Court of Appeals addressed the merits, and held that the unsanitary condition in cells, the temperature of the cells, and inadequate lighting were all constitutional violations, but that laundry conditions were not serious enough to rise to the level of a constitutional violation. The Appeals Court also found that the District Court had exceeded its authority in granting relief on issues relating to parts of death row beyond where plaintiffs were housed.

On remand, Judge Davis issued an order on February 4, 2005 granting attorneys' fees to plaintiffs.

On June 14, 2006, the District Court issued an order formally closing the case, noting that the issues in the case had been resolved. The parties were advised that they could petition to reopen the case in the event that further remedial measures became necessary. No such motions had been filed as of the date of this summary.

Angela Heverling - 04/17/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Bathing and hygiene
Disciplinary segregation
Education
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Mail
Phone
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Visiting
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Mississippi Department of Corrections [MDOC]
Plaintiff Description All Death Row prisoners who are now, or will in the future be, confned at Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2003 - 2006
Case Closing Year 2006
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-MS-0005 : Presley v. Epps (N.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0001 : Gates v. Collier (N.D. Miss.)
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)
02-261 (N.D. Miss.) 06/14/2006
PC-MS-0003-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 07/12/2002
PC-MS-0003-0002 PDF | Detail
Opinion Denying Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Prelminary Injunction 07/15/2002 (210 F.Supp.2d 804) (N.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0003-0009 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Report Of Dr. Terry A. Kupers, M.D., M.S.P. 08/30/2002
PC-MS-0003-0007 PDF | Detail
Memorandum Opinion 05/21/2003 (2003 WL 22208029) (N.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0003-0001 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Court of Appeals Opinion 06/28/2004 (376 F.3d 323)
PC-MS-0003-0008 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Rebuttal Declaration of Margaret Winter Regarding Plaintiffs' Attorneys' Fees and Expenses 12/03/2004
PC-MS-0003-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Rebuttal Declaration of Stephen F. Hanlon Regarding Plaintiffs' Attorneys' Fees and Expenses 12/03/2004
PC-MS-0003-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Awarding Attorneys' Fees and Expenses 02/04/2005 (N.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0003-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Closing Case 06/14/2006 (N.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0003-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Davidson, Glen H. (N.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0003-0009
Davis, Jerry A. (N.D. Miss.) [Magistrate]
PC-MS-0003-0001 | PC-MS-0003-0003 | PC-MS-0003-0004 | PC-MS-0003-0005 | PC-MS-0003-0006 | PC-MS-0003-9000
Dennis, James L. (Fifth Circuit)
PC-MS-0003-0008
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bashwiner, Heather Esme (Massachusetts)
PC-MS-0003-9000
Bhat, Ghouri (Texas)
PC-MS-0003-9000
Farrell, Sandi (District of Columbia)
PC-MS-0003-0002 | PC-MS-0003-0009 | PC-MS-0003-9000
Fettig, Amy (District of Columbia)
PC-MS-0003-0008
Hanlon, Stephen F (District of Columbia)
PC-MS-0003-0002 | PC-MS-0003-0004 | PC-MS-0003-0009 | PC-MS-0003-9000
McDuff, Robert B. (Mississippi)
PC-MS-0003-0002 | PC-MS-0003-0008 | PC-MS-0003-0009 | PC-MS-0003-9000
Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia)
PC-MS-0003-0002 | PC-MS-0003-0003 | PC-MS-0003-0008 | PC-MS-0003-0009 | PC-MS-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Clay, John L. (Mississippi)
PC-MS-0003-0003 | PC-MS-0003-0008 | PC-MS-0003-9000
Cole, Tom Hunt Jr. (Mississippi)
PC-MS-0003-0008
Norris, James Marshall (Mississippi)
PC-MS-0003-0008
Vincent, Leonard Charlton (Mississippi)
PC-MS-0003-0008 | PC-MS-0003-9000
White, Marvin L. Jr. (Mississippi)
PC-MS-0003-0009 | PC-MS-0003-9000
Woods, Mary Jo (Mississippi)
PC-MS-0003-0008
Other Lawyers None on record

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