In 1975, pretrial detainees in the Orange County Jail filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, challenging the conditions of confinement at the Orange County Jail. Attorneys with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California represented Plaintiffs.
In 1978, the District Court (Judge William P. Gray) found unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the jail and issued injunctive relief ordering reforms be implemented in a number of areas. including: telephone access, visitation, law library access, mail, religious exercise, administrative segregation, meals, and sleeping accommodations. Stewart v. Gates
, 450 F. Supp. 583 (C.D. Cal. 1978), remanded by Stewart v. Gates
, 618 F.2d 117 (9th Cir. 1980). Judge Gray awarded attorney fees to Plaintiffs' counsel, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for recalculation of fees. Stewart v. Gates
, 987 F.2d 1450 (9th Cir. 1993) (Circuit Judge Robert R. Beezer).
At some point during the 1980s, a population cap and other remedial orders were added. Other than the issue of fees, we have little information on case activity from 1980 to 2003, when memoranda were filed by the Court's ombudsman and Plaintiffs alleging violations of the Court's orders.
On March 11, 2004, the District Court (Judge Gary L. Taylor) consolidated the case with Pierce v. County of Orange
, No. 8:01-cv-00981 [JC-CA-0046
]. On April 27, 2005, relying upon the 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act and case law emphasizing prison administrators discretion, Judge Taylor vacated the previously entered remedial orders and dismissed the case.
Plaintiffs appealed, and on March 23, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Betty B. Fletcher) partially reversed the district court's decision, ruling that the district court could not terminate its previous orders securing minimal access to religious services and exercise. The Court of Appeals also ruled that the County was in violation of the ADA because of disparate programs and services that were offered to disabled versus non-disabled inmates. The case was remanded for further fact-finding on the state of physical barriers to adequate access to bathrooms, showers, exercise areas, dayrooms, dining rooms, cells and all other areas to which disabled persons should have access, and to order remedial remedies as required.
On January 7, 2011, after a six-day bench trial, the Court (Judge Audrey B. Collins) confirmed the ADA sub-class as pretrial detainees with either a "mobility" or "dexterity" impairment, and made detailed findings of fact as to the conditions in the various facilities. After the parties offered proposed plans and comments, the Court entered judgment for the plaintiffs on June 28, 2011, accepting the defendant's final proposed plan for addressing the physical barriers identified in the factual findings and ensuring that disabled detainees were provided with equal access to programs, services, and activities as discussed therein.
Over the next year, the parties fought over attorneys' fees and issues regarding the Orange County Jail's compliance with the judgment. On February 10, 2014, Judge Collins terminated the ongoing order and injunctive relief, having found that the injunction was no longer necessary because the three areas in which plaintiffs sought to extend the injunction did not present current or ongoing violations and thus continued monitoring was no longer necessary. Timothy Shoffner - 07/06/2012