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Case Name Marcera v. Chinlund JC-NY-0012
Docket / Court 76-508 ( W.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
On November 15, 1976, pretrial detainees in the Monroe County Jail in New York filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the New York Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by the Public Interest Law Center of ... read more >
On November 15, 1976, pretrial detainees in the Monroe County Jail in New York filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the New York Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by the Public Interest Law Center of Rochester, New York, alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated because they had been denied contact visits while incarcerated at the jails, and they asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief.

The Commissioners of Corrections denied that they were violating any rights of the plaintiffs, and indicated that they had promulgated regulations providing for contact visits, but were enjoined from enforcing them. On January 27, 1977, the New York Supreme Court in Albany County ruled that the authority to regulate visitation at the county jails had been delegated to the county sheriffs and that the Commissioners were without authority to promulgate regulations pertaining to visitation. McNulty v. Chinlund, 392 N.Y.S.2d 790 (Jan. 26, 1977).

On June 21, 1977, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (Judge Harold Burke) denied the plaintiffs' requests for class certification and preliminary relief without holding a hearing. The plaintiffs appealed.

On November 10, 1977, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Judge Irving Kaufman, Judge John Smith, and Judge William Mulligan) reversed the district judge's decision and remanded the case for a hearing on the issues of class certification and preliminary relief. Marcera v. Chinlund, 565 F.2d 253 (2nd Cir. 1977).

On remand, the district court (Judge Burke) denied the plaintiffs' motion for certification of a defendant class and granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs' motions for preliminary injunctive relief and certification of a plaintiff class. Both parties appealed.

On February 27, 1979, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Judge Kaufman, Judge Smith, and Judge Ellsworth Van Graafeiland) vacated the district court's decision and remanded the case with directions to certify the plaintiff and defendant classes as requested by the plaintiffs and to grant classwide preliminary relief. The court also held that where the record clearly established that the class of defendant county sheriffs had unconstitutionally denied contact visitation to pretrial detainees, but the record also suggested significant differences among jails, each sheriff must submit a plan to implement contact visitation, and the district court must determine whether the suit should continue to be maintained as a class action. Marcera v. Chinlund, 595 F.2d 1231 (2nd Cir. 1979). The defendants appealed.

On June 4, 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion vacating the appellate court's opinion and remanding the case for further consideration in light of the Court's opinion in Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520. Lombard v. Marcera, 442 U.S. 915.

On September 30, 1981, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (Judge John Curtin) held that the plaintiffs were entitled to amend their complaint to add a pendent state constitutional claim and additional requests for relief, that the plaintiff and defendant classes would be certified, and that the plaintiffs were entitled to preliminary and injunctive relief requiring implementation of plans for contact visits. Marcera v. Chinlund, 91 F.R.D. 579 (W.D.N.Y. 1981). We have no information on this case for the ten years following this order.

On July 20, 1992, the district court (Judge Curtin) approved a settlement between the parties decertifying the defendant class and dismissing from the case the defendant sheriffs from the following counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Columbia, Cortland, Erie, Essex, Greene, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Rennselaer, Rockland, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Warren, Washington, Wayne, and Monroe. The court also dismissed the New York Department of Corrections. This order left only the sheriffs of the counties of Clinton and Delaware active as defendants in the case.

On January 21, 1994, the district court (Judge Curtin) found that the remaining counties were in compliance with the settlement, and on January 25, 1994, the court closed the case.

Kristen Sagar - 06/09/2007

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New York Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description pretrial detainees in New York jails
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1981 - 1994
Filing Year 1976
Case Ongoing No
76-508 (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/25/1994
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion (565 F.2d 253)
JC-NY-0012-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/10/1977
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (595 F.2d 1231)
JC-NY-0012-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/27/1979
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision (442 U.S. 915)
JC-NY-0012-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/04/1979
Source: Westlaw
Reported Opinion (91 F.R.D. 579) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0012-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/04/1982
Source: Google Scholar
Judges Curtin, John Thomas (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0012-0003 | JC-NY-0012-9000
Kaufman, Irving Robert (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0012-0001 | JC-NY-0012-0002
Mulligan, William Hughes (Second Circuit)
Smith, John Joseph (D. Conn., Second Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Beier, David W. (New York)
Braveman, Daan (New York)
DeWaal, Ian C. (New York)
Hetherington, Bryan D. (New York)
Kronman, Joan M. (New York)
Defendant's Lawyers Abrams, Robert W. (New York)
Armstrong, Patricia C. (New York)
JC-NY-0012-0001 | JC-NY-0012-0002
Burke, Christine E. (New York)
Doyle, John D. (New York)
JC-NY-0012-0001 | JC-NY-0012-0002 | JC-NY-0012-0003
Hirshowitz, Samuel A. (New York)
Kehoe, Peter R. (New York)
Kennedy, James L. (New York)
Lefkowitz, Louis J. (New York)
JC-NY-0012-0001 | JC-NY-0012-0002
Mustico, Louis J. (New York)
Pilato, Joseph C. (New York)
JC-NY-0012-0001 | JC-NY-0012-0003
Stevens, William J. (New York)

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