University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Nelson v. Leeke PC-SC-0002
Docket / Court 3:82-cv-00876-CWH ( D.S.C. )
State/Territory South Carolina
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On May 5, 1982, a group of adult prisoners confined by the State of South Carolina filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the South Carolina Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. The plaintiffs, who were represented by the ... read more >
On May 5, 1982, a group of adult prisoners confined by the State of South Carolina filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the South Carolina Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. The plaintiffs, who were represented by the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, claimed that the defendants had discriminated against them by refusing to offer them the same environment and opportunities that were offered to young inmates. Specifically, they claimed deficiencies in the areas of housing, health services, visitation, food service, education, and sanitation.

On December 7, 1984, the parties entered into a legal settlement, which culminated in a consent decree, which was submitted to the Court on February 1, 1985. The consent decree provided for changes in the areas of double-celling, sleeping space, use of temporary structures for housing, construction of new facilities, population limits, staffing, health services, programming, fire safety, disciplinary procedures, classification, visitation, physical restraints, food service, and environmental sanitation.

On February 7, 1985, the District Court (Judge C. Weston Houck) certified a class of present and future adult prisoners of the South Carolina Department of Corrections and on March 26, 1985, the Court preliminarily approved the consent decree.

On March 26, 1986, the District Court (Judge Houck) issued a final approval of the Consent Decree and dismissed the complaint with prejudice, retaining jurisdiction over the case for purposes of enforcement of the decree. Plyler v. Leeke, 1986 WL 84459 (D.S.C. Mar. 26, 1986).

In the spring of 1986, the prison system began to experience population increases at twice the expected rate, quickly making it very difficult for the defendants to comply with the consent decree's double-celling provisions. The District Court held a hearing on the issue in July, and the defendants asked the Court to modify the decree to allow the double-celling until a prisoner early release program (which had already been signed into law) became effective in early 1987. The District Court did not grant the modification, but instead ordered the defendants to reduce the number of non-conforming beds by 200 within 15 days, and to eliminate the remaining non-conforming beds by September 20. Both sides appealed.

On November 12, 1986, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a per curiam opinion in which it dismissed as moot the portion of the decree which had ordered the defendants to reduce the number of non-conforming beds by 200 within 15 days, and to eliminate the remaining non-conforming beds by September 20, noting that the defendants had fully complied with that order. The Fourth Circuit then affirmed the District Court's decision not to modify the decree. Plyler v. Leeke, 804 F.2d 1251 (4th Cir. 1986). The parties sought Supreme Court review, and on October 11, 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. Plyler v. Evatt, 488 U.S. 897 (1988).

The plaintiffs asked the Court to award them their attorneys' fees, and the District Court (Judge Houck) awarded them fees in the amount of $414,721.91, in addition to the $100,000.00 that they had already been paid. The defendants appealed, and on May 7, 1990, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court's fee award. Plyler v. Evatt, 902 F.2d 273 (4th Cir. 1990).

In early 1989, the parties filed cross-motions regarding the decree's space requirements for women inmates. In May 1989, the District Court granted the state temporary relief from compliance with the decree's provisions. After a hearing, on February 15, 1990, the District Court denied the defendants' motion for modification of the decree, requiring the state to place the Women's' Correctional Center in full compliance with the decree by April 2, 1990. The defendants appealed, and on February 12, 1991, the Fourth Circuit (Judge James Dickson Phillips, Jr.) vacated the District Court's decision, finding that the Court had erred in refusing to give any relief (even temporary) from the cell-space requirements at issue, even though the defendants had acted in good faith at all times and were only out of compliance with the decree because of factors beyond their effective control. Plyler v. Evatt, 924 F.2d 1321 (4th Cir. 1991).

On August 23, 1993, the parties entered into a compromise agreement to modify the consent decree in the areas of classification of inmates without parole and programming. This modification was adopted by the Court on October 6.

On May 1, 1995, the parties entered into a memorandum agreement to modify the decree, in which they agreed that the use of four-point-restraints would not be used to threaten the health of inmates, and that they would only be used if an inmate throws urine or feces at the correctional staff. The District Court adopted this modification of the decree on May 4, 1995.

On May 8, 1996, the defendants asked the District Court to terminate the consent decree pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act. After a hearing, the District Court terminated the decree on June 4, 1996. The plaintiffs appealed and asked the District Court for a temporary stay of the termination order until the appeal was heard. On June 19, 1996, the District Court granted the stay until the appeal was decided. On November 14, 1996, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision to terminate the decree. Plyler v. Moore, 100 F.3d 365 (4th Cir. 1996). The plaintiffs sought Supreme Court review, and on June 16, 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. Plyler v. Moore, 520 U.S. 1277 (1997). This case was officially closed on March 31, 1999.

In August, 2002, two of the plaintiffs asked the District Court for sanctions, but our PACER docket, which is accurate as of October 11, 2007, records no further activity in this case.

Kristen Sagar - 10/11/2007


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
General
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Disciplinary procedures
Education
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Visiting
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) South Carolina Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description adult prisoners confined by the State of South Carolina
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 Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1984 - 1997
Case Closing Year 1999
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
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)
82-876 (D.S.C.) 08/26/2002
PC-SC-0002-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 04/01/1982
PC-SC-0002-0002 PDF | Detail
Legal Settlement 12/07/1984
PC-SC-0002-0003 PDF | Detail
Consent Decree 01/01/1985 (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0004 PDF | Detail
Joint Motion to enter Consent Decree 02/01/1985
PC-SC-0002-0005 PDF | Detail
Order 02/07/1985 (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0006 PDF | Detail
Stipulation to Alteration of Consent Decree 02/22/1985
PC-SC-0002-0007 PDF | Detail
Order 03/27/1985 (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0008 PDF | Detail
Opinion 03/26/1986 (1986 WL 84459) (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0023 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion 11/12/1986 (804 F.2d 1251)
PC-SC-0002-0022 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Order 01/11/1988 (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0001 PDF | Detail
Reported Opinion 04/27/1988 (846 F.2d 208)
PC-SC-0002-0017 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 10/11/1988 (488 U.S. 897)
PC-SC-0002-0025 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Supplemental Stipulation 02/16/1990 (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0009 PDF | Detail
Reported Opinion 05/07/1990 (902 F.2d 273)
PC-SC-0002-0018 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 02/12/1991 (924 F.2d 1321)
PC-SC-0002-0019 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 09/24/1991 (409 S.E.2d 416)
PC-SC-0002-0020 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
In Re: Compromise Classification Agreement 08/18/1993
PC-SC-0002-0015 PDF | Detail
Compromise Agreement to Modify the Decree 08/23/1993
PC-SC-0002-0014 PDF | Detail
Order 10/06/1993 (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0013 PDF | Detail
Order 11/08/1993 (438 S.E.2d 244)
PC-SC-0002-0021 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 11/08/1993 (1993 WL 335152)
PC-SC-0002-0024 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Order 05/04/1995 (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0010 PDF | Detail
Order 05/12/1995 (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0011 PDF | Detail
Order 06/19/1996 (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0012 PDF | Detail
Opinion 11/14/1996 (100 F.3d 365)
PC-SC-0002-0016 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Petition for writ of certiorari denied 06/16/1997 (520 U.S. 1277)
PC-SC-0002-0026 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Finney, Ernest A. Jr. (State Supreme Court)
PC-SC-0002-0021
Gregory, George Tillman Jr. (State Supreme Court)
PC-SC-0002-0020
Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (Fourth Circuit)
PC-SC-0002-0022
Houck, Charles Weston (D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0001 | PC-SC-0002-0006 | PC-SC-0002-0008 | PC-SC-0002-0009 | PC-SC-0002-0010 | PC-SC-0002-0011 | PC-SC-0002-0012 | PC-SC-0002-0013 | PC-SC-0002-0023 | PC-SC-0002-9000
Phillips, James Dickson Jr. (Fourth Circuit)
PC-SC-0002-0018 | PC-SC-0002-0019 | PC-SC-0002-0022
Wilkins, William Walter (Fourth Circuit, D.S.C.)
PC-SC-0002-0016 | PC-SC-0002-0017 | PC-SC-0002-0022
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bronstein, Alvin J. (District of Columbia)
PC-SC-0002-0019 | PC-SC-0002-9000
Burnette, Mary Malissa (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0018
Edelson, Julie I (Georgia)
PC-SC-0002-0022
Fairey, W. Gaston (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0004 | PC-SC-0002-0005 | PC-SC-0002-0006 | PC-SC-0002-0008 | PC-SC-0002-0009 | PC-SC-0002-0010 | PC-SC-0002-0011 | PC-SC-0002-0013 | PC-SC-0002-0014 | PC-SC-0002-0015 | PC-SC-0002-0016 | PC-SC-0002-0017 | PC-SC-0002-0019 | PC-SC-0002-0020 | PC-SC-0002-0021 | PC-SC-0002-0022 | PC-SC-0002-9000
Freeman, Christine A. (Georgia)
PC-SC-0002-0004 | PC-SC-0002-0005 | PC-SC-0002-0007 | PC-SC-0002-0008
Lloyd, Reginald I (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0016
McKim, Rochelle Romosca (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Morris, John (Georgia)
PC-SC-0002-0019
Ney, Steven (Maryland)
PC-SC-0002-0004 | PC-SC-0002-0005 | PC-SC-0002-0006 | PC-SC-0002-0008 | PC-SC-0002-0022
Ouzts, Cynthia Hall (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0018
Romosca, Rochelle L. (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ashworth, Treva G. (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0016 | PC-SC-0002-9000
Batson, Larry (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0004 | PC-SC-0002-0005 | PC-SC-0002-0006 | PC-SC-0002-0007 | PC-SC-0002-0008 | PC-SC-0002-0009 | PC-SC-0002-0010 | PC-SC-0002-0011 | PC-SC-0002-0013 | PC-SC-0002-0016 | PC-SC-0002-0017 | PC-SC-0002-0019 | PC-SC-0002-0020 | PC-SC-0002-0021 | PC-SC-0002-0022 | PC-SC-0002-9000
Condon, Charles M (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0016 | PC-SC-0002-9000
Evans, Edwin E (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0018
Gambrell, Charles W. (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0019
Hunger, Frank W. (District of Columbia)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Lundberg, Carl N. (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0020 | PC-SC-0002-0021
Medlock, T. Travis (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0017 | PC-SC-0002-0019 | PC-SC-0002-0020 | PC-SC-0002-0021 | PC-SC-0002-0022
White, Henry Jerome (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0019
Woodington, Kenneth P. (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0001 | PC-SC-0002-0004 | PC-SC-0002-0005 | PC-SC-0002-0006 | PC-SC-0002-0008 | PC-SC-0002-0009 | PC-SC-0002-0010 | PC-SC-0002-0011 | PC-SC-0002-0013 | PC-SC-0002-0016 | PC-SC-0002-0017 | PC-SC-0002-0018 | PC-SC-0002-0019 | PC-SC-0002-0020 | PC-SC-0002-0021 | PC-SC-0002-0022 | PC-SC-0002-9000
Zelenka, Donald (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-9000
Other Lawyers Boston, John (New York)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Brake, Deborah (District of Columbia)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Greenberg, Daniel L. (New York)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Grossman, Jo Anna (District of Columbia)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Herwig, Barbara L. (District of Columbia)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Kerr, Sarah (New York)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Lewis, Dori A. (New York)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Loeb, Robert Mark (District of Columbia)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Mariner, Joanne (New York)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Mendez, Juan (New York)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Nelson, Marta (District of Columbia)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Ralph, Regan (New York)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Roth, Kenneth (New York)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Seymour, Margaret B. (South Carolina)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Smith, Brenda Verndenia (District of Columbia)
PC-SC-0002-0016
Soler, Mark I. (District of Columbia)
PC-SC-0002-0016

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -