On September 17, 1969, a prisoner of the Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Ohio Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The case was consolidated with Bennett v. Perini, an action brought by another inmate of the prison. The plaintiffs complained that their constitutional rights had been violated by various unspecified conditions of their confinement.
On September 12, 1972, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio (Judge Don J. Young) entered a consent decree in the case. The decree enjoined the defendants from discriminating against any prisoner on the basis of race, color, or national origin, engaging in any form of racial harassment, intimidation, or insult against any member of the plaintiff class. The decree further ordered the defendants to do the following: 1) to refrain from obstructing, censoring, reading, copying, or delaying first class mail between any member of the plaintiff class and any court of law, attorney-at-law, or public official; 2) to refrain from opening or inspecting any first class mail between any member of the plaintiff class and any court of law, attorney-at-law, or public official, except where conducted in the presence of the recipient for the limited purpose of detecting contraband; 3) to refrain from interfering with efforts by members of the plaintiff class to assist one another in the preparation and conduct or defense of legal actions; 4) to provide space and necessary materials for the plaintiffs to prepare such legal materials; and 5) to permit the plaintiffs to possess and read newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, books, and other printed matter from any source, with the exception of obscene materials or those materials which constitute a clear and present danger to the security or safety of the institution. The decree also dealt with the areas of library privileges, disciplinary procedures, solitary confinement and punitive segregation, job assignments, staff training, classification procedures, parole procedures, and reporting.
Shortly after the consent decree was entered, plaintiff Taylor filed a supplemental complaint, asking the court to award him damages from defendant Perini. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant's actions (taking legal papers away from the plaintiff and transferring him back to the Ohio Penitentiary) were unconstitutional efforts to deny the plaintiff access to the courts and intimidate him. On October 18, 1972, the district court (Judge Young) found in favor of the defendant, holding that the defendant's actions, while improper, were in good faith and in accordance with the statutes and regulations that had been in place at the time in question. Taylor v. Perini, 365 F.Supp. 557 (N.D.Ohio 1972).
On February 26, 1973, the defendants refused to pay the attorneys' fees that the court had ordered them to pay in the consent decree. They asked the court to vacate that part of the consent decree, arguing that under the Eleventh Amendment, the district court had no jurisdiction to order the State of Ohio to pay. On May 23, 1973, the district court (Judge Young) denied the request and ordered them to pay the fees, holding that the Eleventh Amendment did not protect them from the obligation to pay. Taylor v. Perini, 359 F.Supp. 1185 (N.D.Ohio 1973). The defendants appealed.
On October 3, 1974, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Judge Anthony Joseph Celebrezze) reversed and remanded the case for further consideration. The court held that the State of Ohio did not waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity from an award of attorneys' fees when the Attorney General consented to the original court order, and that the attorneys' fees awarded individually against the superintendent were not barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The court also held that since it was unclear on what ground the district court felt that the award of attorneys' fees against the superintendent was equitable, a remand was required, and that in an appropriate case, attorneys' fees might be awarded in a Civil Rights Act case even though the statute does not expressly authorize such an award. Taylor v. Perini, 503 F.2d 899 (6th Cir. 1974). The plaintiffs appealed. On May 27, 1975, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded the case for reconsideration in light of new precedent. Taylor v. Perini, 421 U.S. 982 (1975). We found no information on this attorneys' fee dispute after the Supreme Court remanded it.
Early in 1976, Special Master Vincent M. Nathan submitted his first report concerning compliance with the consent decree to the district court (Judge Young), who adopted it on April 9, 1976 and issued orders accordingly. The court held that the evidence demonstrated that the defendants had not complied with all aspects of the consent decree and ordered the special master to supervise and coordinate the actions of the prison officials in order to effectuate full compliance. The court also ordered that the Marion Correctional Institution's maximum capacity of 1143 inmates in the stockade and 275 in the honor dormitory be observed, and that the defendants not admit any inmates in excess of those numbers. Taylor v. Perini, 413 F.Supp. 189 (N.D.Ohio 1976).
On September 23, 1976, the district court (Judge Young) adopted the Special Master's second report, which noted that the defendants were making progress in all areas covered by the consent decree. The court granted the defendants' motion for a finding of compliance with the consent decree with respect to the areas of mail handling, staff training, and the provision of a law library and legal supplies in the honor dormitory. Taylor v. Perini, 421 F.Supp. 740 (N.D.Ohio 1976).
On March 18, 1977, the district court (Judge Young) adopted the Special Master's third report, which noted at least partial compliance in all areas covered by the consent decree. The court found the defendants to be fully compliant with the decree in the areas covered under the second report. The court also found the defendants to be in compliance with the decree in the area of solitary confinement medical care. The defendants objected to the report, arguing that the plaintiffs should have to pay for the psychological screening of newly hired employees at the prison, but the court ruled that the defendants had to pay for this screening. Taylor v. Perini, 431 F.Supp. 566 (N.D.Ohio 1977).
On December 5, 1977, the district court (Judge Young) adopted the fourth report of the Special Master, finding that the defendants were in a state of full compliance with almost all portions of the consent decree. The court enjoined the defendants from continued implementation of their grievance procedures, ordering them to develop different grievance mechanisms. The court also found them not yet compliant in the area of desegregation of some of the housing units, but noted that significant progress had been made. Taylor v. Perini, 446 F.Supp. 1184 (N.D.Ohio 1977).
On July 20, 1978, the district court (Judge Young) found that the defendants were in substantial compliance with the consent decree. The court then entered a new order that had been previously agreed upon by both parties, superseding the September 12, 1972 decree, as well as all subsequent orders. The new decree was entered to settle the claims made by the plaintiffs with respect to grievance procedures, and it set forth the manner in which such procedures were to be handled by the prison. Taylor v. Perini, 455 F.Supp. 1241 (N.D.Ohio 1978). On April 9, 1979, the district court (Judge Young) found the defendants to be in full compliance with all orders of the court. The court then excused the defendants from further compliance monitoring and ordered that the Special Master be dismissed. Taylor v. Perini, 477 F.Supp. 1289 (N.D.Ohio 1979).
Shortly after the court dismissed the Special Master, plaintiff Taylor asked the district court to hold the defendants in contempt for violating the consent decree. The plaintiff asked the court for punitive damages and judicial sanctions, alleging that the defendants had violated the decree by permitting sweet corn to be stored on the cafeteria floors, allowing it to become rodent-infested, and then feeding it to the inmates, despite inmate grievances raising the issue. The district court denied the plaintiff's request, and the plaintiff appealed. On December 29, 1987, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Judges Boyce F. Martin, Ralph B. Guy, and Edward E. Johnstone) affirmed the district court's order and dismissed the appeal. Taylor v. Perini, 836 F.2d 550 (table), No. 87-3333, 1987 WL 30156 (6th Cir.(Ohio)Dec. 29, 1987).
Several years later, members of the plaintiff class asked the district court to hold the defendants in contempt of the consent decree for alleged violations in the areas of prisoners' mail handling, punitive segregation, and religious rights. The district court denied the motion, ruling that the plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies as required under the decree. The plaintiffs appealed. On October 18, 1989, the Sixth Circuit (Judges Martin, Lawrence P. Zatkoff and Danny Julian Boggs) affirmed the district court's decision. Taylor v. Perini, 887 F.2d 1088 (table), Nos. 89-3251, 89-3459, 89-3460, 1989 WL 123261 (6th Cir.(Ohio) Oct. 18, 1989) The plaintiffs appealed. On April 2, 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. Sherrills v. Perini, 494 U.S. 1068 (1990). Since we have no district court docket for this case, we have no further information on the proceedings.Kristen Sagar - 06/04/2006