University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Frazier v. Ward PC-NY-0022
Docket / Court 73-306 ( N.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
In 1973, six inmates of the Special Housing Unit at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York against officials of the Department of Corrections. The inmates were ... read more >
In 1973, six inmates of the Special Housing Unit at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York against officials of the Department of Corrections. The inmates were represented by the Legal Aid Society and Prisoners' Rights Project. The inmates were confined in the Special Housing unit after becoming involved in the 1971 uprising at the state's Attica Correctional facility.

In their complaint the plaintiffs requested declaratory relief relating to four allegations: 1) due process violations stemming from the prison's Adjustment Committee's having failed to provide written notice of disciplinary charges before confining them to the special housing unit; 2) state violations due to the denial of exercise of one hour a day; 3) constitutional rights violations from the imposition of certain strip searches; and 4) due process violations from ineffective access to the courts due to a policy that prohibited special housing unit inmates access to the prison library, that allowed them only two law books a day, and that prohibited them from having legal assistance from the inmates in the segregation unit.

The Court (Judge James T. Foley) 1) dismissed the claim of lack of due process in the disciplinary procedures for failure to prove any federal constitutional deprivations or violations; 2) agreed that the denial of adequate exercise and recreation for prisoners in the special housing unit constituted cruel and unusual punishment and found that an appropriate regulation would be to allow them one hour of exercise outside a day; 3) agreed that certain cavity searches conducted on inmates constituted unreasonable searches and cruel and unusual punishment; and 4) held that inmates in the special housing unit were not denied due process in their limited access to legal books or the library because of the state's interest in temporary segregation for punitive purposes and because the inmates of the unit have equal access to legal services around the state. Frazier v. Ward, 426 F.Supp. 1354 (N.D.N.Y. 1977). A decree was submitted by the plaintiffs' attorneys on the two successful claims.

In 1987 three more plaintiffs' cases were heard on the same claims in the same court. Two of the three plaintiffs had been members of the class of the 1973 action, but had not been notified that their individual claims could be precluded by the class action. The defendants raised several procedural defenses (collateral estoppel, res judicata, Eleventh Amendment immunity) and the Court (Judge Howard G. Munson) found, in general, in favor the plaintiffs on their procedural due process claims against the defendants and were awarded nominal and compensatory damages and attorneys' fees. Morgan v. Ward, 699 F.Supp. 1025 (N.D.N.Y. 1988).

No further information is provided.

Rebecca Bloch - 04/19/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Law library access
Personal injury
Recreation / Exercise
Search policies
Strip search policy
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Clinton Correctional Facility
Plaintiff Description six inmates of the Special Housing Unit at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1977 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

  Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants
http://law.duke.edu/journals/lcp
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University in St. Louis)
Citation: 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ 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
Memorandum-Decision and Order 11/07/1988 (699 F.Supp. 1025) (N.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0022-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum-Decision and Order 02/17/1997 (426 F.Supp. 1354) (N.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0022-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Foley, James Thomas (N.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0022-0001
Munson, Howard G. (N.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0022-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ashworth, Richard G. (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0002
Hellerstein, William E. (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0001
Mushlin, Michael B. (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0001
Richmond, Warren H. III (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Abrams, Robert W. (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0002
Baker, Providence (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0002
Hoffman, Jack W. (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0001
Lefkowitz, Louis J. (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0001
O'Brien, Timothy F. (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0001
Roberts, David B. (New York)
PC-NY-0022-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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