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Case Name Hunter v. Beshear CJ-AL-0017
Docket / Court 2:16-cv-00798-MHT-CSC ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On September 30, 2016, three individuals with severe mental illness deemed incompetent to stand trial in criminal proceedings against them filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The plaintiffs sued the Alabama Department of Mental Health under the ... read more >
On September 30, 2016, three individuals with severe mental illness deemed incompetent to stand trial in criminal proceedings against them filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The plaintiffs sued the Alabama Department of Mental Health under the Fourteenth Amendment and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plaintiffs, represented by Alabama Disability Advocacy Program, the ACLU of Alabama Foundation, and private counsel, sought declaratory and both preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.

The plaintiffs claimed that individuals with severe mental illness who had been deemed incompetent to stand trial in Alabama had to wait an average of eight months between the date of the court order committing them to the Alabama Department of Mental Health for treatment and the actual start of their treatment. During that time, these individuals were forced to stay in county jails that lacked the resources they needed.

The Alabama Department of Mental Health moved to dismiss the case on November 4, 2016, and the court denied the motion on November 30, 2016. On December 23, the plaintiffs amended the lawsuit to proceed as a class action, and they sought a preliminary injunction. Settlement negotiations delayed the scheduled preliminary injunction hearing.

The parties settled. They filed a joint motion for preliminary approval of the settlement on April 4, 2017, and the Court agreed on May 9, 2016. In doing so, the Court granted class certification. The class was defined as all persons who have been, or will be during the period that this Agreement remains in effect, charged with a crime, within the meaning of Rule 1.4(b) of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, in a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of Alabama, and detained in an Alabama city or county jail or Alabama Department of Corrections facility while awaiting a court-ordered Mental Evaluation or court-ordered Competency Restoration Treatment.

Before the settlement could be finalized, the parties had to provide notice of the settlement agreement to the settlement class and criminal defense counsel of settlement class members, state officials, and the Alabama Circuit Courts. The parties did so, and the Court held conferences for class members to voice their objections to the settlement. Because none of the class members who had voiced objections wanted to testify, the court decided not to hear testimony from class members.

On January 25, 2018, the Court ordered a final settlement approval and approved the negotiated consent decree. (The motion for a preliminary injunction from December 2016 was denied because the settlement made it moot.) Under the terms of the settlement, the Alabama Department of Mental Health agreed to provide for mental health treatment for incarcerated individuals to be completed within forty-five days by the end of twelve months and within thirty days by the end of twenty-four months. The Department also agreed to install more beds to accommodate more patients, provide training for relevant personnel. Alabama Disability Advocacy Program agreed to monitor compliance. The Decree was set to last at least 3 years. If the state failed to achieve substantial compliance nine months prior to the end of that term, the plaintiffs could move to extend the term by four months. In the meantime, the court retained jurisdiction to enforce the decree, on the plaintiffs' motion.

Under the Consent Decree, the state was to pay the plaintiffs $270,000 in legal fees incurred through March 13, 2017. The Department agreed to pay for the monitoring at a rate of $195 per hour, as well as for attorney fees sustained after March 13, 2017 at a rate of $275 per hour. (2018 WL 564856)

On February 2, 2018, the plaintiffs sought their legal fees, estimating that the state owed $342,986 in attorney fees and $9,677 for other litigation costs. This was settled on March 19, 2018, for $66,794 in attorney fees and $8,688.84 in other litigation costs.

Monitoring of the consent decree is ongoing until at least 2021.

Rebecca Strauss - 05/16/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Goals and Timekeeping
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Training
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-area
Medical Exam / Inquiry
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Commitment procedure
Conditions of confinement
Placement in detention facilities
Placement in mental health facilities
Rehabilitation
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Alabama
Plaintiff Description All persons who have been, or will be during the period that this Agreement remains in effect, charged with a crime, within the meaning of Rule 1.4(b) of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, in a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of Alabama, and detained in an Alabama city or county jail or Alabama Department of Corrections facility while awaiting a court-ordered Mental Evaluation or court-ordered Competency Restoration Treatment, as further set out.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2018 - 2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  HUNTER, ET AL. V. BESHEAR
https://www.aclualabama.org/
Date: 2018
By: ACLU of Alabama
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:16-cv-798 (M.D. Ala.)
CJ-AL-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/29/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-AL-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 26]
CJ-AL-0017-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Settlement Approval Order [ECF# 67] (M.D. Ala.)
CJ-AL-0017-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/09/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Settlement Approval Opinion and Order [ECF# 93] (2018 WL 564856) (M.D. Ala.)
CJ-AL-0017-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/25/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 94] (2018 WL 565002) (M.D. Ala.)
CJ-AL-0017-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/25/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Coody, Charles S. (M.D. Ala.)
CJ-AL-0017-9000
Thompson, Myron Herbert (N.D. Ala., M.D. Ala.)
CJ-AL-0017-0002 | CJ-AL-0017-0003 | CJ-AL-0017-0005 | CJ-AL-0017-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gadd, Martha Geron (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-0001 | CJ-AL-0017-0004 | CJ-AL-0017-9000
Hackney, James Patrick (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-0001 | CJ-AL-0017-0004 | CJ-AL-0017-9000
Marshall, Randall C. (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-0001 | CJ-AL-0017-0004 | CJ-AL-0017-9000
Sherrod, Henry F. III (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-0001 | CJ-AL-0017-0004 | CJ-AL-0017-9000
Van Der Pol, William Jr. (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-0001 | CJ-AL-0017-0004 | CJ-AL-0017-9000
Williams, Lonnie Jason (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-0004 | CJ-AL-0017-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Childs, Larry Brittain (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-9000
Hixon, Edward Cary (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-9000
Jones, Nancy Skipper (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-9000
Klinner, Thomas Bailey (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-9000
Malcom, Brian James (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-9000
Nichols, Ashley Lane (Alabama)
CJ-AL-0017-9000

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