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Case Name Bravo v. Board of County Commissioners for the County of Doña Ana JC-NM-0011
Docket / Court 6:08-cv-00010-MV-LCS ( D.N.M. )
State/Territory New Mexico
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Jail Conditions
Policing
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Bazelon Center
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On June 16, 2008, people with mental disabilities who had been arrested and detained in the Doña Ana County Detention Center (“DACDC”) brought this class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. The plaintiffs sued the Board of County Commissioners for ... read more >
On June 16, 2008, people with mental disabilities who had been arrested and detained in the Doña Ana County Detention Center (“DACDC”) brought this class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. The plaintiffs sued the Board of County Commissioners for the County of Doña Ana, the DACDC, and law enforcement. The Plaintiffs, represented by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and private counsel, sought sought class-wide preliminary and permanent injunctive relief for violations of their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the New Mexico Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. Additionally, the named Plaintiffs sought damages for the violations of their rights and for the negligent acts and omissions that gave rise to tort claims.

There were two groups of Defendants: County Commissioners and Law Enforcement, in this matter. The first group of Defendants encompassed the Board of County Commissioners for the County of Doña Ana, which was responsible for all county operations including the Doña Ana County Detention Center. The second group of Defendants was comprised of two subgroups of law enforcement, City of Las Cruces Police Department and Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office.

Specifically, the Plaintiffs alleged that at least thirty percent of DACDC’s approximately nine hundred detainees had mental disabilities. According to the Plaintiffs, the DACDC Defendants had continually and persistently ignored the mental health needs of detainees, and had failed to provide them with constitutionally adequate mental health services. The Defendants never instituted an effective system for making routine assessments of detainees with symptoms of mental illness. Nor did the Defendants implement an effective system for tracking detainees who needed mental health care. The DACDC Defendants failed to provide regular monitoring of detainees’ mental health care needs, and failed to provide the treatment they need.

As stated in the Plaintiffs’ complaint, failure in treatment led the Defendants to rely too heavily on the use of segregation for detainees with mental health care needs. A significant number of detainees in the segregation units exhibited obvious symptoms of serious mental illness. Notwithstanding isolation’s particularly harmful effects on the mental health of detainees, the Defendants failed to conduct regular medical rounds and assessments of their needs. The Defendants also failed to engage in meaningful discharge planning for detainees with mental disabilities. The Defendants discharged detainees without access to the medications they may have been taking in jail, without referrals to community mental health programs, and without any other essential discharge planning services needed to manage their mental illnesses. The predictable result was recidivism and a cycle of arrests and detentions.
The Law Enforcement Defendants were aware of the DACDC Defendants’ failure to meet the serious mental healthcare needs of detainees. Nevertheless, according to the Plaintiffs, the Law Enforcement Defendants persisted in a discriminatory pattern and practice of arresting persons with mental disabilities and transporting them to DACDC, instead of taking them to appropriate community based services or otherwise diverting them from the criminal justice system. Additionally, the Law Enforcement Defendants’ failed to effectively train law enforcement personnel to recognize the signs of mental disabilities and respond appropriately.

On January 3, 2008 the Plaintiffs entered an amended complaint for Class Action injunctive relief and damages. On the same day the Defendants moved to remove the case to federal court. The Plaintiffs submitted multiple amended complaints, and the Defendants sought to dismiss the claims based on the U.S. Constitution and the New Mexico Constitution as well as the class action claims.

In August 2008, the parties began engaging in settlement conversations.

As these conversations continued, on May 2, 2009, the Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the Defendants from continuing to subject the Plaintiffs and other people with mental disabilities to the actions and inactions set forth in the complaint. The injunction was denied on November 20, 2009 at the recommendation of Magistrate Judge Gregory B. Wormuth because public policy weighed against doing so without clarity of facts regarding key allegations.

On July 2, 2009, Judge William P. Johnson affirmed Magistrate Judge Karen B. Molzen’s Report and Recommendation to sanction the County Defendants for failure to report their change of position regarding settlement talks after a year and a half of attempted settlement discussions. Specifically, the County Manager, who had engaged in settlement conversations, failed to inform the Plaintiffs that the Board of Commissioners had rejected the new direction of the talks. The Court ordered that the County Defendants to pay sanctions to Plaintiffs in the amount of $7,394.00.

On July 9, 2009, the Plaintiffs dismissed with prejudice their claims against the City Defendants, since the Plaintiffs and the City Defendants had reached a settlement in the case. Six months later, on December 15, 2009, the case was settled with the County Defendants before Judge William P. Johnson. The settlement, found on the Bazelon Center website, called for expanded training, new policies and procedures, increased resources to divert people with mental illnesses from the criminal justice system. It also included a monetary payment totalling $150,000 as damages for the named plaintiffs and attorneys fees. It included no payment to class members. .

On January 15, 2010 the Plaintiffs dismissed with prejudice (closing the case) the matter against the County Defendants.

Mary Kate Sickel - 11/26/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Law-enforcement
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Administrative segregation
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Counseling
Discharge & termination plans
Disciplinary segregation
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
False arrest
Funding
Improper treatment of mentally ill suspects
Placement in detention facilities
Placement in mental health facilities
Reasonable Accommodations
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Defendant(s) Board of County Commissioners
City of Las Cruces
Doña Ana County Detention Center
Plaintiff Description People with mental disabilities arrested and detained in the Doña Ana County Detention Center in New Mexico.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Bazelon Center
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2008 - 2010
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Bravo v. Board of Commissioners of Dona Ana County
http://www.bazelon.org/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
6:08-cv-00010-MV-LCS (D.N.M.)
JC-NM-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/19/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Second Amended Complaint for Class Action Injunctive Relief and for Damages for Named Plaintiffs [ECF# 36]
JC-NM-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/16/2008
Settlement Agreement
JC-NM-0011-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/13/2009
Judges Johnson, William Paul (D.N.M.)
JC-NM-0011-9000
Molzen, Karen Ballard (D.N.M.) [Magistrate]
JC-NM-0011-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bach, George (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-0002 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Bauman, Rosemary L. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Bossing, Lewis (District of Columbia)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Burnim, Ira Abraham (District of Columbia)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-0002 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Cubra, Peter (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-0002 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Egan, Brendan K. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-9000
Gardner, Tim (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Koenigsberg, Nancy (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-0002 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Lilley, Michael W. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-0002 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Penn, Andrew S. (District of Columbia)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Schatz-Vance, Lisa Y (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-0001 | JC-NM-0011-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Anaya, Christina E. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-9000
Beach, Terri S (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-9000
Caldwell, John W (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-9000
Macke, Daniel J (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-9000
Robles, Luis E. (New Mexico)
JC-NM-0011-9000

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