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Case Name Hughes v. Goord PC-NY-0040
Docket / Court 6:97-cv-06431-CJS ( W.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Case Summary
On September 29, 1997, prisoners at various facilities within the New York State Department of Corrections filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Department officials. The plaintiffs, represented by Prisoners Legal Services of New York, brought the suit in the U.S. District ... read more >
On September 29, 1997, prisoners at various facilities within the New York State Department of Corrections filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Department officials. The plaintiffs, represented by Prisoners Legal Services of New York, brought the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, challenging the systemic deprivation of religious rights of Native American prisoners, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. They asked the court for injunctive relief on behalf of all Native American prisoners in New York's correctional facilities who, because of the defendants' policies, were denied the opportunity to possess symbolic items necessary for religious practice; to engage in spiritual practices, including seasonal ceremonies and meetings for prayer or study; and to chant and dance, both in congregations and individually.

For approximately the following year and a half, the parties engaged in discovery. On March 24, 1999, and then July 9, 1999, the court (Judge Charles J. Siragusa) held settlement conferences. On that date, the parties entered into a Settlement Agreement, approved by the court the same day. The parties agreed to create a Native American chaplain position, to allow inmates to practice their religion through group meetings, to possess certain religious items, and to celebrate religious holidays with family members. The Agreement also provided for staff notification and training as to the Native Americans' rights, and for a two-year observation period to follow entry of the Agreement in order to ensure compliance.

On February 16, 2000, the parties filed a Joint Supplemental Response to the Plaintiffs' Report of Comments, dated December 14, 1999, reflecting their agreed-to interpretation of certain provisions of the Settlement Agreement. These provisions included the role of the chaplain, the burning of Indian tobacco after corrections facilities become smoke-free, and the guests able to be invited to religious ceremonies.

Subsequently, on September 8, 2000, the court (Judge Siragusa) entered a decision and order approving the dismissal of the action pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement. The case was closed the same day.

Laura Uberti - 06/27/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Religious programs / policies
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New York Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Native American inmates in the New York State Department of Corrections system who sought to practice their religion
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
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 Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 1999 - 2000
Case Closing Year 2000
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 ]

  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)
97-6431 (W.D.N.Y.) 09/20/2000
PC-NY-0040-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 09/26/1997
PC-NY-0040-0004 PDF | Detail
Rule 41 Voluntary Stipulation of Dismissal Subject to Conditions 07/09/1999
PC-NY-0040-0001 PDF | Detail
Joint Supplemental Response 02/16/2000
PC-NY-0040-0002 PDF | Detail
Decision and Order 09/05/2000 (W.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0040-0003 PDF | Detail
Judges Siragusa, Charles J. (W.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0040-0003 | PC-NY-0040-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fuller, Sarah Betsy (New York)
PC-NY-0040-0001 | PC-NY-0040-0002 | PC-NY-0040-0004 | PC-NY-0040-9000
Gerken, Joseph (New York)
PC-NY-0040-0004 | PC-NY-0040-9000
Leven, David C. (New York)
PC-NY-0040-0004 | PC-NY-0040-9000
Pagano, Maria E (New York)
PC-NY-0040-9000
Terrizzi, Thomas (New York)
PC-NY-0040-0001 | PC-NY-0040-0002 | PC-NY-0040-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bove, Emil J. Jr. (New York)
PC-NY-0040-9000
Doyle, Mary H (New York)
PC-NY-0040-9000
Payson, Marian W. (New York)
PC-NY-0040-0001 | PC-NY-0040-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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