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Case Name Davidson v. City of Cranston, Rhode Island VR-RI-0022
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-00091-L-LDA ( D.R.I. )
State/Territory Rhode Island
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Election/Voting Rights
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Case Summary
On February 14, 2014, the ACLU of Rhode Island and several citizens of the City of Cranston filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. The plaintiffs sued the City of Cranston under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the Prison Policy Initiative, ... read more >
On February 14, 2014, the ACLU of Rhode Island and several citizens of the City of Cranston filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. The plaintiffs sued the City of Cranston under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the Prison Policy Initiative, the ACLU, and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs claim that the 2012 Redistricting Plan violated the rights of the plaintiffs to equal representation under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the inclusion of the prison population of Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI), located in Ward 6, inflated the actual voting population of ward 6. As a result, every three citizens of Ward 6 represent the same voting power as four citizens of the other five wards.

On March 13, 2014, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss. On September 8, 2014, Judge Ronald R. Lagueux denied the motion, holding that the court could not say that the 2012 Redistricting Plan was constitutional as a matter of law. 42 F.Supp. 3d 325 (D.R.I. 2014). The court scheduled discovery for the next nine months.

On July 9, 2015, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. On August 6, 2016, a cross-motion for summary judgment was filed by the plaintiffs.

On May 24, 2016, Judge Lagueux granted plaintiffs’ summary judgment and denied defendants'. 188 F.Supp.3d 146. The court entered declaratory judgment for the plaintiffs and enjoined the defendants from holding any new elections under the current 2012 Redistricting Plan. Furthermore, the defendants were required to come up with a new redistricting plan within 30 days. Judge Lagueux determined that while districts are generally divided according to equal populations, the prison inmates at ACI were not engaged in the civil process like other non-voters. Therefore, to include them in the total population of Ward 6 would an unconstitutional dilution of Ward’s 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5’s voting power.

On May 31, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to appeal. On September 21, 2016, Judge Sandra Lea Lynch of the First Circuit Court of Appeals entered judgment in favor of the defendants. 837 F.3d 135. Judge Lynch held, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Evenwel v. Abbott, that in the absence of discriminatory intent, the courts should defer to local election authorities and the political process. Accordingly, the district court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants on Sept. 26, 2016.

The case is now closed.

Brent Winslow - 09/28/2016
Virginia Weeks - 10/20/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Voting
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Redistricting/district composition
Vote dilution
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Cranston, Rhode Island
Plaintiff Description Four individuals and the ACLU chapter of Rhode Island
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 02/14/2014
Case Closing Year 2016
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.R.I.
10/31/2016
1:14−cv−00091−L−LDA
VR-RI-0022-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.R.I.
02/19/2014
Complaint [ECF# 1]
VR-RI-0022-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: Bloomberg Law
D.R.I.
09/08/2014
Memorandum and Decision [Motion to Dismiss] [ECF# 12] (42 F.Supp.3d 325)
VR-RI-0022-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Bloomberg Law
D.R.I.
05/24/2016
Memorandum and Order [Summary Judgment] [ECF# 35] (188 F.Supp.3d 146)
VR-RI-0022-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Bloomberg Law
U.S. Court of Appeals
09/21/2016
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 00117057778] (837 F.3d 135)
VR-RI-0022-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Almond, Lincoln D. (D.R.I.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-9000
Howard, Jeffrey R. (First Circuit) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Kayatta, William Joseph Jr. (First Circuit) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Lagueux, Ronald Rene (D.R.I.) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0002 | VR-RI-0022-0003 | VR-RI-0022-9000
Lynch, Sandra Lea (First Circuit) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ho, Dale E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Labinger, Lynette J (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0001 | VR-RI-0022-0004 | VR-RI-0022-9000
Lioz, Adam (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0001 | VR-RI-0022-0004 | VR-RI-0022-9000
Wright, Brenda (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0001 | VR-RI-0022-0004 | VR-RI-0022-9000
Young, Sean J (New York) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0001 | VR-RI-0022-0004 | VR-RI-0022-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Benoit, Normand G. (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004 | VR-RI-0022-9000
Pellegrino, David J (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004 | VR-RI-0022-9000
Rawson, Christopher M (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-9000
Taylor, Robert K (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004 | VR-RI-0022-9000
Other Lawyers Aden, Leah C. (New York) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Bromberg, Yael (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Cartagena, Juan (New York) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Cuevas Ingram, Joanna Elise (New York) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Francois, Aderson B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Goldstein, Samantha M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Gray, Danielle C. (New York) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Ifill, Sherrilyn (New York) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Llewellyn, Patrick D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Montag, Coty R (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Nelson, Janai S. (New York) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Perez, Jose-Luis (New York) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Ramaswamy, Rebecca R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004
Swarns, Christina (New York) show/hide docs
VR-RI-0022-0004

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