On September 13, 2006, several Department of Juvenile Justice parolees filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. (They amended the complaint a week later.) The plaintiffs sued California and the persons and entities administering California's juvenile parole system under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In their complaint, they claimed that California's policies and practices regarding the revocation of juvenile parole violated the their constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, and assistance of counsel. They also alleged violation of statutory rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act because California failed to provide training and accommodations to permit juveniles with physical and mental disabilities to participate effectively in the revocation proceedings against them. The plaintiffs were represented by private counsel, as well as attorneys from the Prison Law Office and the Youth Law Center. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, attorney's fees and costs, and that the court retain jurisdiction until fully assured of compliance with remedial orders.
For their constitutional claims, the plaintiffs alleged that, in contrast to the process provided for adult parole violators (pursuant to a 2004 stipulated order in Valdivia v. Schwarzennegger, No. S-94-0671 (E.D. Cal.), PC-CA-0052
in this Clearinghouse), California failed to provide preliminary hearings for juveniles accused of parole violations, and that prompt hearings, even if a single revocation hearing process was constitutional, did not occur, in any event. The complaint listed numerous deficiencies in the juvenile revocation limited hearing process then available (e.g., unfairly burdensome continuances, vague standards, use of unreliable evidence, lack of translation of documents or advice of procedures/rights, insufficient accommodation of disabilities, insufficient availability of counsel).
On February 28, 2007, in an unpublished order, the district court (Senior District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton) certified a class consisting of juvenile parolees in or under the jurisdiction of California, including all juvenile parolees with disabilities, as defined under federal law, who are: (i) in the community under parole supervision or who are at large; (ii) in custody in California as alleged parole violators, and who are awaiting revocation of their parole; or (iii) in custody, having been found in violation of parole and returned to custody. In the same order, the court denied several defense motions, including motions that the plaintiffs disclose their full names (instead of using their initials in their pleadings) and that certain allegations be stricken.
As the case proceeded, discovery disputes came at times to the court's attention. In a May 25, 2007, unpublished ruling, Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows allowed California to withhold certain budget documents from discovery under the deliberative process privilege. On reconsideration, however, Judge Karlton held on July 6, 2007, in an unpublished ruling, that since the deliberative process privilege was qualified (rather than absolute), the budget documents should be produced to the plaintiffs in light of their need for the materials and the need for accurate fact-finding, given the documents' relevance in depicting the administrative burden associated with providing increased procedural protections to the class.
On September 18, 2007, the district court issued an unpublished order granting the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment as to their due process claim, but denying that portion of the motion seeking, without trial, injunctive relief. The court ruled that California's system of juvenile parole revocation failed to afford due process because the state failed to afford a sufficiently prompt hearing to those juveniles facing parole revocation. Judge Karlton did not determine whether the state needed to afford both a preliminary hearing and a final revocation hearing in every circumstance (i.e., both for alleged technical violators and for alleged law violators) but ruled that, since in neither circumstance was the hearing promptly provided, the state parole revocation process for juvenile offenders violated the juveniles' due process rights.
Three days later, Magistrate Judge Hollows granted a motion to impose sanctions on defendants for failing to produce discoverable files and to adequately provide answers to interrogatories. On April 21, 2008, Judge Karlton appointed Chase Riveland to be the Special Master in the case. The plaintiffs followed that appointment with a series of motions for summary judgment, which Judge Karlton referred to the Special Master on June 3, 2008.
On June 4, 2008, the parties reached a settlement in the case. Under the terms of the settlement:
- attorneys would be appointed for every juvenile parolee charged with a violation of parole within 8 business days
- juveniles would receive a preliminary probable cause hearing within 13 business days,
- if no probable cause is found, the juvenile would receive a full revocation hearing within 35 calendar days of the parole hold,
- juveniles would have the right to present evidence and witnesses at their probable cause and revocation hearings,
- clear policies would be developed to spell out which behavior warrants revocation of parole or a return to a DJJ facility,
- youth who were not revoked would be promptly released and DJJ would end a policy of temporary detention for youth continued on parole,
- juveniles could not be returned to the DJJ for more than a year, and a revocation cannot be extended beyond a year, except for cases of serious in-custody misconduct,
- accommodations for mental and physical disabilities and for effective communications would be provided, 9)
- would no longer be automatically shackled during revocation proceedings and policies would be developed to determine when and how a youth could be restrained, and
- a prompt administrative appeal system that includes the appointment of attorneys would be put into practice.
On October 7, 2008, the district court (Judge Karlton) approved the class action settlement. On January 5, 2009, special master Chase Riveland filed his first status report, in which he reported that the defendants "have made important progress and are laying a solid foundation for the needed changes."
On May 28, 2009 the special master filed his second status report, which determined that a "great majority of the remedy's features are now in place, although the execution of some components remains challenging." The report found that a number of rights were being better protected; however, there continued to be incomplete or inconsistent practices. Specifically, the special master found that the issues needing the most attention included the "practices identifying and accommodating disabilities and effective communication needs... and the more nuanced aspects of substantive due process in revocation hearings." The special master made no recommendations in this report.
On November 30, 2009 the special master filed his third status report, which found that "defendants continue to make good progress in building a solid revocation system." The special master noted that the state's budget crisis could have an impact on the state's ability to continue making progress towards compliance with the remedy. In terms of issues that were identified, the special master noted that "to better preserve due process, all concerned need a greater understanding of the elements of violations." Nevertheless, the report made clear that "systems are beginning to function more consistently, there is sustained effort to examine and address deficient practices, and the parties are reaching more agreements on policy." The special master made no recommendations in this report.
On July 23, 2010 the special master filed his fourth status report. The special master reported that he had found substantial compliance in several requirements for attorney representation. For that reason, the special master recommended that the court order that the stipulated settlement's requirements dealing with the appointment of an attorney no longer be the primary focus of the special master. Again, the special master highlighted the defendants' continued difficulties to ensure the accommodation of the most severely disabled parolees. Moreover, the special master noted that the defendants' reporting system presented one of the largest obstacles to compliance with agreement. Specifically, the system "was not designed for all of the necessary compliance reporting -- which is sometimes in tension with management reporting needs - and the outdated technology renders changes unreasonably difficult."
In May 2010, Chase Riveland ended his assignment as Special Master, and was apparently replaced first by Patricia A. Gray and then by Virginia Morrison.
On January 4, 2011 special master Virginia Morrison filed a fifth status report. She recommended that the defendants had reached substantial compliance with an additional seven requirements of the settlement. Two areas where further work is required was identified in this report. Specifically the special master wrote that the parties need to work on "building up the revocation documents and hearing practice, so that what is delivered accomplishes effective communication and satisfies due process standards, and establishing the policies, procedures, regulations, and internal systems needed to deeply root due process protections for juveniles in the state's system."
On June 21, 2011, the special master issued a sixth status report. She recommended to the court that the defendants had achieved substantial compliance with an additional 4 requirements of the settlement. The report noted that should the court accept the special master's findings, the defendants will have achieved substantial compliance on 17 of the settlement's requirements. However, the report noted that "significant challenges require attention in order to satisfy due process and this Court's orders." Specifically, the report made clear that the defendants still faced challenges regarding the provision of accommodations to those parolees with special needs.
On December 12, 2011, the special master issued a seventh status report. The special master recommended to the court that the defendants had achieved substantial compliance with an additional nine requirements of the settlement. The report noted that should the court accept the special master's findings, the defendants will have achieved substantial compliance on 26 of the settlement's requirements.
On June 27, 2012, Senate Bill 1021 was approved by the Governor and resulted in the termination of most juvenile parole operations as of January 1, 2013. However, juvenile parolees who were detained on a parole hold prior to January 1, 2013, would have their revocation proceedings conducted in early 2013.
On June 21, 2012 the special master issued her eighth status report. The report noted that should the court accept the special master's findings, the defendants will have achieved substantial compliance on 30 of the settlement's requirements. The master noted that it was the most rapid implementation of a settlement that she had seen in her 21 years of experience.
On September 10, 2012, the court adopted the special master's eighth report in full. The defendants eliminated coercive procedures and actions, such as committing juveniles to time in prison without the advice of counsel. They abolished practices that could keep revoked parolees incarcerated indefinitely. They systematized decision-making so that the steps are predictable, proceedings are based on evidence, and staff work to inform and involve the juveniles. All proceedings were provided with exceptional timeliness, and a substantial proportion of juveniles are diverted from revocation into alternatives to incarceration. Overall, the defendants had demonstrated compliance with virtually all of the injunctions' requirements.
On January 18, 2013, the court agreed to the parties' stipulated process for conclusion of the case. The parties would notify the class members and then move to terminate the injunction. Then, the special master would recommend whether the injunction should be terminated and the court would rule on the motion.
The following month, the plaintiffs filed a motion to terminate the injunction and the special master also recommended that the case be terminated. On April 1, 2013, the court granted the motion to terminate the injunction. Once the final class member had been released, the parties and the special master filed their motions regarding remaining attorneys' fees and monitoring fees. The defendants agreed to pay the fees and costs.
Once the final fee issues were resolved, the court terminated the case on July 10, 2013. Subsequently, on additional motion for undisputed fees and costs was granted. Then, on January 16, 2014, Judge Karlton expressly terminated the position of the special master, as well.Justin Benson - 02/13/2012
Jessica Kincaid - 03/18/2016