University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Jensen v. Gunter PC-NE-0007
Docket / Court 87-L-607 ( D. Neb. )
State/Territory Nebraska
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 1987, inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary filed a Section 1983 class action suit, pro se, in the District of Nebraska against officials of the Nebraska Department of Corrections. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants' practice of double celling constituted cruel and unusual punishment in ... read more >
In 1987, inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary filed a Section 1983 class action suit, pro se, in the District of Nebraska against officials of the Nebraska Department of Corrections. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants' practice of double celling constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and that the penitentiary's policy relating to inmate liability for contraband violated the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause.

Prior to an evidentiary hearing, Jensen v. Gunter was consolidated with three other cases: Pierce v. Clarke, CV 87-L-497; El-Tabech v. Gunter, CV 87-L-377; and Luna v. Clarke, CV 87-L-476. Documents from all are included in this file. These cases involved other Nebraska inmates at the same facility raising the same issues.

Following an eighteen-day evidentiary hearing in June 1992, Magistrate Judge Piester granted plaintiffs' injunctive relief limited to defendants' failure to safeguard plaintiffs from the threat of violent attacks by a cellmate. However, Judge Piester recommended that the defendants be granted a period of time to submit a remedial plan to correct the deficiency. Over plaintiffs' and defendants' objections, the District Court (Judge William G. Cambridge) adopted Judge Piester's report and recommendation. Jensen v. Gunter, 807 F. Supp. 1463 (D. Neb. 1992). Defendants appealed.

The Eight Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold) dismissed the appeal, holding that because there was no final order the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction. 992 F.2d 183 (8th Cir. 1993). In 1994, the District Court (Judge Richard Kopf) denied defendants' motion to revoke the prior order and granted plaintiffs' motion for an award of attorneys' fees. Tabech v. Gunter, 869 F. Supp. 1446 (D. Neb. 1994). Defendants appealed. In January 1996, the Eighth Circuit (Judge Richard S. Arnold) remanded for additional factual findings in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). On remand, Judge Kopf held that the evidence was sufficient and certified the findings to the Court of Appeals. Tabech v. Gunter, 922 F. Supp. 244 (D. Neb. 1996). Defendants appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's order. Jensen v. Clarke, 94 F.3d 1191 (8th Cir. 1996).

Following the 8th Circuit decision, a satisfaction of judgment was entered in March 1997. The Court had, however, reserved jurisdiction to enforce the injunction that had been entered in {}.

In 2006, two different prisoners filed motions seeking contempt sanctions for failure to comply with the injunction. The Court rejected both. In the first, the Court noted that while it had reserved enforcement authority, the injunction applied only to the Nebraska State Penitentiary, not other facilities. Therefore the contempt motion exceeded the scope of the injunction. {CITE IF THERE IS ONE}. In the second, the Court more broadly ruled contempt inappropriate, explaining that because the Prison Litigation Reform Act had been enacted after the entry of the injunction, it would be inappropriate to allow prisoners to circumvent the act without complying with its limits on prisoner litigation. The Court instructed the prisoners who'd sought contempt that they could, if they wished, file a new action. {CITE IF THERE IS ONE}

Eoghan Keenan - 06/10/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Personal injury
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Nebraska State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1992 - 2007
Case Closing Year 2007
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)
4:87-cv-00476 (D. Neb.) 01/09/2001
PC-NE-0007-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
4:87-cv-00497 (D. Neb.) 01/09/2001
PC-NE-0007-9003.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
4:87-cv-00377 (D. Neb.) 12/11/2001
PC-NE-0007-9002.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
4:87-cv-00476 (D. Neb.) 01/24/2007
PC-NE-0007-9004.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion and Order 09/09/1992 (807 F.Supp. 1463) (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0007-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 04/30/1993 (992 F.2d 183)
PC-NE-0007-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order 12/01/1994 (869 F.Supp. 1446) (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0007-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 01/11/1996 (73 F.3d 808)
PC-NE-0007-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order 03/28/1996 (922 F.Supp. 244) (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0007-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 09/05/1996 (94 F.3d 1191)
PC-NE-0007-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Arnold, Morris Sheppard (Eighth Circuit, W.D. Ark.)
PC-NE-0007-0006
Arnold, Richard Sheppard (W.D. Ark., Eighth Circuit, E.D. Ark.)
PC-NE-0007-0004 | PC-NE-0007-0005
Cambridge, William G. (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0007-0001
Kopf, Richard George (D. Neb.) [Magistrate]
PC-NE-0007-0002 | PC-NE-0007-0003 | PC-NE-0007-9001 | PC-NE-0007-9002 | PC-NE-0007-9003 | PC-NE-0007-9004
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barton, Gregory D. (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-0002 | PC-NE-0007-0003 | PC-NE-0007-0004 | PC-NE-0007-0005 | PC-NE-0007-0006 | PC-NE-0007-9003
Carter, Victor (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-9003
Crisp, Harold (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-9003
Dittrich, Laddie (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-9003
Duff, Richard (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-9003
Freese, Scott D. (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-0002 | PC-NE-0007-0003 | PC-NE-0007-9004
Hemmerling, Barry L. (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-0002 | PC-NE-0007-0003 | PC-NE-0007-9001
Koukol, David J. (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-9002
Pierce, Reginald (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-9003
Shively, Robert W. Jr. (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-0002 | PC-NE-0007-0003 | PC-NE-0007-9002
Sims, Ernest L. (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-9003
Defendant's Lawyers Stenberg, Don (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-0002 | PC-NE-0007-0003
Weeks, Terri Marie (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0007-0002 | PC-NE-0007-0003 | PC-NE-0007-0004 | PC-NE-0007-0005 | PC-NE-0007-0006 | PC-NE-0007-9001 | PC-NE-0007-9002 | PC-NE-0007-9003 | PC-NE-0007-9004
Other Lawyers None on record

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