In 1977, a group of pretrial detainees incarcerated in Maricopa County Jail filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleging that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office denied them their constitutional rights. Specifically, plaintiffs maintained that they were denied rights related to overcrowding, medical care, living conditions, prisoner privileges, access to legal materials, and access to courts. A plaintiff class was subsequently certified. In 1981, the parties entered into a Consent Decree which remained in force until it was superseded by a stipulated Amended Judgment entered on January 10, 1995.
In April 1998, the Sheriff and the County moved to terminate the Amended Judgment in accordance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3526(b). On September 10, 1998, the District Court denied the motion to terminate, and defendants appealed. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the denial of termination and remanded for further consideration in light of Gilmore v. California, 220 F.3d 987 (2000), which held that § 3526(b) of the PLRA was not unconstitutional. Hart v. Arpaio, 2 Fed.Appx. 867 (9th Cir. 2001).
On remand, the parties submitted briefs to the District Court addressing those aspects of the Maricopa County Jail operations that potentially raised constitutional concerns covered by the Amended Judgment. Full evidentiary hearings were held by the District Court in November 2003 and January 2004. In January 2005, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Sitver, who issued a Report and Recommendation on September 30, 2005. Hart v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22300 (D. Ariz. 2005).
On February 6, 2006, the Sheriff and County filed a writ of mandamus with the Ninth Circuit, requesting an order compelling the District Court to rule on defendants' motion to terminate. The Ninth Circuit denied the writ on April 19, 2006 and the U.S. Supreme Court denied Certiorari on October 2, 2006. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office v. U.S. Dist. Court for Dist. of Arizona, 127 S.Ct. 370 (2006).
On September 28, 2006, the District Court adopted the magistrate's report and recommendation which, in part, called for the production of various documents by the defendants. Hart v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89545 (D. Ariz. 2006).
The District Court held an evidentiary hearing that started on August 12, 2008 and ran for several weeks, during which it considered the defendants' motion to terminate. On October 22, 2008, the court issued its Second Amended Judgment, which terminated part of the original judgment, but which kept some of the previous injunctive rulings in effect. Specifically, the court refused to terminate the portions of the earlier judgment that dealt with crowding, sanitation, medication administration, classification procedures, medical care, mental health care, recreation and exercise, food, and record keeping.
On November 21, 2008, defendants sought appellate review of the Second Amended Judgment. On January 28, 2009, the Court appointed experts to serve as independent evaluators of defendants' compliance with the medical and mental health provisions of the Second Amended Judgment. On April 7, 2010, because the defendants failed to comply with the Second Amended Judgment's medical and mental health requirements, the Court issued an order requiring the parties to develop a proposed schedule for confirming defendants' full compliance by the end of 2010. On April 4, 2011, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Second Amended Judgment.
On October 12, 2011, the parties stipulated that certain non-medical provisions of the Second Amended Judgment should be terminated and that other provisions should remain in effect. On April 24, 2012, defendants moved to terminate some provisions of the Second Amended Judgment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b), and plaintiffs did not oppose the motion. On May 24, 2012, defendants' motion was granted, and those provisions of the Second Amended Judgment that remained in effect were restated in a Third Amended Judgment. On August 9, 2013, because defendants disagreed with the status reports of the court-appointed monitors, defendants moved to terminate the Third Amended Judgment, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3626(A)(1).
On September 30, 2014, after a prior evidentiary hearing, Judge Neil Wake issued an order denying defendants' motion to terminate the Third Amended Judgment. The Court declared that defendants must adopt certain policies regarding medical and mental health care and file with the Court a copy of each policy adopted. The Court further ordered that, by February 27, 2015, defendants must hire additional staff, provide more training, and make facility modifications. Finally, by March 2, 2015, defendants must collect and summarize data for a period of 180 days that shows the extent to which they have complied with these provisions and must file with the Court a report of the data collected. The Court restated those provisions of the Third Amended Judgment that remained in effect and stated the additional prospective relief granted by the order in a Fourth Amended Judgment. The Court awarded plaintiffs attorneys fees incurred in defending against the motion to terminate.
The case is ongoing.Kristen Sagar - 03/29/2009
Nate West - 10/22/2014