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Case Name In the Interest of S. D. JI-LA-0009
Docket / Court No. 00-147-04-QF ( State Court )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Case Summary
In a motion filed in July 2001, in the Juvenile Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, while represented by an attorney from the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, a seventeen-year-old resident of Louisiana's youth correctional center at Tallulah sought modification of his ... read more >
In a motion filed in July 2001, in the Juvenile Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, while represented by an attorney from the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, a seventeen-year-old resident of Louisiana's youth correctional center at Tallulah sought modification of his disposition status as a juvenile offender so that he would not again be placed at Tallulah. In support of his motion to modify, he cited evidentiary hearings that occurred in August and September 2001. According to the movant, the evidence established that the facility at Tallulah had an ineffectual grievance system, kept some juveniles in small, bare isolation cells without education or programming opportunities, and permitted a dangerous level of violence, including staff violence towards juvenile prisoners.

His memorandum in support of his motion noted that the U.S. Department of Justice had evaluated the facility in 1996 and 1997, finding grave violations of rights. The findings led to negotiations between the state and the federal government. When those negotiations failed in November 1998, the United States sued Louisiana over its' juvenile facilities, which led to a September 2000, settlement in which the state made promises of relief that, according to the movant, it did not keep. In particular, the movant alleged that he arrived at Tallulah in January 2001, and thereafter had been assaulted three times in approximately six months, twice by staff. One of the staff assaults broke movant's jaw and he was pressured by staff to "cover-up" the origin of the injury, he alleged, adding that the institution failed to conduct a meaningful investigation of the injury. He asserted that the facility failed to provide adequate schooling, treatment, and rehabilitative programming and did not meet residents' mental health needs. His motion concluded that conditions at Tallulah violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, as well as various Louisiana constitutional and statutory provisions, warranting the court in declaring that his rights were violated and prohibiting his placement at Tallulah.

On December 17, 2001, Judge Mark Doherty issued a written ruling on movant's motion. He reviewed the juvenile's history of abuse and neglect at the hands of parents, relatives and, now, the state. The judge evaluated the hearing witnesses' testimony, finding contradictions in the guards' versions of events and suppression of evidence by the state's investigative body at Tallulah. Judge Doherty reviewed the treatment plans developed for the movant by social workers and determined that his needs were not being met by the state, which regularly allowed violent chaos at Talullah. Accepting movant's version of events, the judge ruled that the juvenile's Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated, in that the movant had been subjected to physical abuse unrelated to any treatment or rehabilitative purpose, in a facility lacking trained mental health professionals or minimally adequate emergency mental health treatment, and which also lacked an adequate educational program. These deficiencies also violated provisions of the state's constitution and statutes, according to the judge. In light of the unconstitutional conditions of confinement, the court granted the motion for modification. The court's final disposition awaited results of a home study for possible placement of the juvenile with relatives in California.

We have no information about additional activity in this case.

Mike Fagan - 05/20/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Personal injury
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Untreated pain
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Department of Corrections
Tallulah juvenile facility
Plaintiff Description Male juvenile incarcerated at the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth – Madison Parish Unit in Tallulah, Louisiana
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2001 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2001
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Petitioner’s Brief in Support of Motion to Modify 11/21/2001
JI-LA-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Judgment on Youth's Motions to Modify Disposition 12/17/2001
JI-LA-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Judge Declares Tallulah Facility Violated Child’s Rights 12/18/2001
JI-LA-0009-0003.pdf | Detail
Judges Doherty, Mark Court not on record
JI-LA-0009-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Utter, David J. (Louisiana)
JI-LA-0009-0001 | JI-LA-0009-0003
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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