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Case Name State of New Hampshire v. Adams PC-NH-0007
Docket / Court 1:94-cv-00573-SM ( D.N.H. )
State/Territory New Hampshire
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Case Summary
This case began in 1991, when a New Hampshire state court sentenced the defendant to a term of imprisonment of 15-30 years for manslaughter. The defendant began serving his sentence at age 20.

Shortly thereafter, the defendant alleged that he was denied a free and appropriate public ... read more >
This case began in 1991, when a New Hampshire state court sentenced the defendant to a term of imprisonment of 15-30 years for manslaughter. The defendant began serving his sentence at age 20.

Shortly thereafter, the defendant alleged that he was denied a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), and requested a due process hearing. In lieu of a hearing, the parties reached an agreement, embodied in a consent decree, which confirmed the defendant’s entitlement to a FAPE and obligated the school district in which the prison was located to develop an individualized education program (IEP) for the defendant. The IEP entitled the defendant to over five hours of daily instruction and counseling. The IEP took effect in 1993 and the State held the burden of implementation. At this point, the defendant was receiving education services pursuant to the IEP.

At the time of the consent decree, correctional authorities designated the defendant as “moderate high risk” which did not impact the implementation of the IEP. However, the defendant subsequently committed a series of disciplinary infractions which escalated his status to “maximum security risk,” a classification with severe constraints on movement and interactions. Faced with a conflict between the realization of legitimate security considerations and literal compliance with the IEP's terms, the State chose to prioritize the security considerations and proceeded to cease providing the defendant his education services pursuant to the IEP. In response, the defendant sought a due process hearing, alleging that his security classification impeded his ability to receive an education under IDEA and the security concerns were not a valid justification for denying this right. An administrative hearing was held and the defendant sought a request for relief wherein the State was compelled to deliver the promised education per the terms of the IEP. The hearing officer agreed and found that the State had failed to satisfy the obligations of the IEP under the consent decree, and the officer ordered the State to either allow the IEP to be implemented as written, or, alternatively, to permit the defendant to leave the correctional facility to attend classes. The State petitioned the district court for judicial review of this decision.

On March 21, 1996, the district court, concluding that the IDEA did not override the State's penological interests, vacated the hearing officer's orders. Rather than remanding the case, the court retained jurisdiction and directed the parties to develop a new IEP, taking into account (1) the defendant’s entitlement to a FAPE while incarcerated; (2) the State's legitimate security concerns; (3) the need for any revised IEP to avoid "thwart[ing] the prison's legitimate need to preserve order and discipline among inmates"; and (4) the importance of flexibility with the accommodations. The parties ultimately negotiated a new agreement that established a new IEP under which Adams was to receive two additional years of compensatory education.

Shortly thereafter, the defendant made a claim for attorneys’ fees, which the district court denied. In February 1998, the defendant appealed the district court’s denial of the award of attorneys’ fees. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding that the defendant was not a “prevailing party” for the purposes of 20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(4)(B), which permits a district court, in its discretion, to “award reasonable attorneys’ fees as part of the costs to the parents ... of a child or youth with a disability who is the prevailing party.” 159 F.3d 680. The First Circuit agreed with the district court that attorneys’ fees were unwarranted given that the litigation yielded only relief that likely was attainable without the time and expense of adversarial proceedings. The case is now closed.

Rebecca Fisher - 02/09/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Classification / placement
Education
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Defendant(s) Department of Education and Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Prisoner who received educational services under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act claiming that services should not have been interrupted as result of prisoner's placement in prison's secure housing unit
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 11/14/1994
Case Closing Year 1998
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D.N.H.
05/18/2000
1:94-cv-00573-SM
PC-NH-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.N.H.
04/17/1997
Order [ECF# 50]
PC-NH-0007-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: Non-PACER U.S. District Court Website
D.N.H.
01/21/1998
Order [ECF# 61]
PC-NH-0007-0005.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: Non-PACER U.S. District Court Website
U.S. Court of Appeals
04/30/1998
Brief of Marc Adams as Appellant
PC-NH-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
U.S. Court of Appeals
05/29/1998
Brief for Appellees
PC-NH-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
U.S. Court of Appeals
11/12/1998
Opinion (159 F.3d 680)
PC-NH-0007-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
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Judges Aldrich, Edgar (D.N.H.) show/hide docs
PC-NH-0007-0003
Coffin, Frank Morey (First Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-NH-0007-0003
McAuliffe, Steven J. (D.N.H.) show/hide docs
PC-NH-0007-0004 | PC-NH-0007-0005 | PC-NH-0007-9000
Selya, Bruce Marshall (FISCR, D.R.I., First Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-NH-0007-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers McLaughlin, Philip T. (New Hampshire) show/hide docs
PC-NH-0007-0002 | PC-NH-0007-0003
Smith, Nancy J. (New Hampshire) show/hide docs
PC-NH-0007-0002 | PC-NH-0007-0003 | PC-NH-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Eggert, Dean B (New Hampshire) show/hide docs
PC-NH-0007-9000
Meyer, H. Jonathan (New Hampshire) show/hide docs
PC-NH-0007-0001 | PC-NH-0007-0003 | PC-NH-0007-9000
Smith, Peter S. (New Hampshire) show/hide docs
PC-NH-0007-0001 | PC-NH-0007-0003 | PC-NH-0007-9000

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