University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Doe v. Burwell JI-OH-0001
Docket / Court 81-415 ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Case Summary
On April 22, 1981, juveniles confined in Lawrence County Jail in Ironton, Ohio filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against a juvenile court judge, county commissioners, the sheriff of Lawrence County, and ... read more >
On April 22, 1981, juveniles confined in Lawrence County Jail in Ironton, Ohio filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against a juvenile court judge, county commissioners, the sheriff of Lawrence County, and Lawrence County. The class consisted of all juveniles who were, had been since January 1979, and would be confined in Lawrence County Jail. The plaintiff, who was represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants subjected them to cruel, unconscionable, and illegal conditions of confinement; abuses of judicial authority; illegal incarceration without adequate separation from confined adult offenders; unlawful secure detention of "status offenders"; denial of appropriate alternative placements; and false imprisonment. The plaintiffs further alleged that these conditions violated the guarantees under the Fourteenth Amendment of due process, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, freedom of association, free exercise of religion, privacy, and rehabilitation in the least restrictive setting.

The Lawrence County jail was used to confine both adult and juvenile offenders, but did not adequately separate the adult and juvenile offenders. The defendants failed to provide plaintiffs with personal hygiene supplies, failed to provide opportunities for exercise or recreation, and did not allow sufficient family visitation, or attorney visitation. Futhermore, defendants failed to provide adequate medical or mental health screening and services. The staff at the jail was not trained to identify and respond to problems of juveniles.

The Juvenile Court Judge of Lawrence County allegedly subjects plaintiffs to arbitrary and capricious abuses of judicial authority. Juveniles who were charged with status offenses were improperly confined in the Lawrence County Jail. The juvenile court judge ordered that needed medical care and medication be denied, that visitation from parents or relatives be denied, denied detention hearings, threatened to confine and detain juveniles unless they left Lawrence County permanently, threatened to arrest juveniles without probable cause if they appeared in Ironton, and placed juveniles in programs in other states when appropriate placements were available in Ohio.

On March 25, 1982, the District Court (Judge S. Arthur Spiegel) denied the Sheriff of Lawrence County's motion for summary judgment, on the grounds that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the sheriff was grossly negligent in his supervisory position. Doe v. Burwell, 537 F. Supp. 186 (S.D. Ohio 1982).

In April 1982, the District Court (Judge Spiegel) entered a consent judgment, which required the defendants to cease using the Lawrence County Jail for any and all juveniles, and provide plaintiffs' counsel with monthly reports for a year on all juveniles appearing before the juvenile court and their place of detention.

Kaitlin Corkran - 05/22/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Classification / placement
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Youth / Adult separation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Lawrence County Jail
Lawrence County, Ohio
Plaintiff Description juveniles confined in Lawrence County Jail in Ironton, Ohio
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se Unknown
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
Order Duration 1982 - n/a
Filed 04/22/1981
Case Ongoing No
Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
S.D. Ohio
Civil Rights Complaint for Injunctive, Declaratory and Equitable Relief and Damages (Class Action)
JI-OH-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
S.D. Ohio
Opinion and Order Denying Defendant Hieronimus' Motion for Summary Judgment (537 F.Supp. 186)
JI-OH-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
S.D. Ohio
Consent Judgment
JI-OH-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Spiegel, S. Arthur (S.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
JI-OH-0001-0002 | JI-OH-0001-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alger, Elinor (Ohio) show/hide docs
JI-OH-0001-0002 | JI-OH-0001-0003
Campbell, Bruce A. (Ohio) show/hide docs
Soler, Mark I. (California) show/hide docs
JI-OH-0001-0002 | JI-OH-0001-0003
Warboys, Loren M. (California) show/hide docs
JI-OH-0001-0002 | JI-OH-0001-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Bailey, Stephen A. (Ohio) show/hide docs
JI-OH-0001-0002 | JI-OH-0001-0003
Issenmann, John K. (Ohio) show/hide docs
JI-OH-0001-0002 | JI-OH-0001-0003
Wesp, E. Joel (Ohio) show/hide docs
JI-OH-0001-0002 | JI-OH-0001-0003

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