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Case Name Tommy P. v. Spokane County JI-WA-0007
Docket / Court 224974 ( State Court )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On June 13, 1975, a juvenile detainee of the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) filed a class action lawsuit, under the U.S. Constitution, Washington State Constitution, and Revised Code of Washington, against Spokane County and its School District in the Superior Court of the State of ... read more >
On June 13, 1975, a juvenile detainee of the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) filed a class action lawsuit, under the U.S. Constitution, Washington State Constitution, and Revised Code of Washington, against Spokane County and its School District in the Superior Court of the State of Washington for Spokane County. The plaintiff, represented by Spokane Legal Services, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that Spokane County had a duty to provide full education to all residents of JDC. Specifically, the plaintiff contended that he had been deprived of education since his involuntary confinement at JDC, in direct conflict with mandatory education polices of the State of Washington, and Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. WASH. REV. CODE. §§ 28A.02.010, 28A.02.040, 28A.13.010, 28A.27.010.

On December 13, 1976, the Superior Court of the State of Washington (Judge Philip H. Faris) dismissed the School District as a defendant, and allowed the County time to amend its actions to be compliant with the relevant law. The Court found that the County and the Juvenile Court were the parties responsible for the education of juveniles temporarily held in custody. Despite giving leave to the defendants to change their policies, on January 11, 1977, the Court (Judge Faris) entered a declaratory judgment ordering the JDC to meet the educational needs of the Plaintiff. The Court noted that the Spokane County Commissioners had the opportunity to draft an education plan of its own design, but if it did not comply with the relevant laws, the Court would have the duty to order a program of educational treatment that did.

The defendants appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington, which remanded in December 1978 for findings in response to the Washington Juvenile Justice Act of 1977 that took effect on July 1, 1978. WASH. REV. CODE. § 13.40. On remand the Superior Court (Judge Faris) added the Superior Court of Spokane County (itself) as a defendant. According to the state supreme court decision described below, the Court (Judge Faris) entered a consent order providing that the Superior Court would administer the provision of educational services to the residents of the JDC.

On a second hearing before the Supreme Court of Washington, en banc, the defendants challenged their duty to establish and pay for an education program. On May 27, 1982, the Supreme Court of Washington, (Justice Vernon R. Pearson) held that juveniles of school age had a right to education while detained in JDC, before and after adjudication, and that the county was responsible for the cost of running the necessary education program. Tommy P. v. Bd. of County Comm'rs of Spokane County, 645 P.2d 697 (Wash, 1982). The Court (Justice Pearson) found that the County was responsible pursuant to State law, and did not venture into liability under the United States Constitution; it also did not determine whether the County could recover costs from the State of Washington. A dissent in the same opinion (Justice Fred H. Dore) called for remand to Superior Court with joinder of the State of Washington and the Superintendent of Public Instruction as defendants to show cause why they should not reimburse Spokane County for the education of juvenile detainees. Tommy P., 645 P.2d at 705.

PACER has no docket for this state case, and we have no further information.

Greg Venker - 05/29/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Spokan County Juvenile Detention Center
Plaintiff Description All those juveniles, of compulsory school age, who are present and future detainees of the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Facility and who are, while involuntarily detained, being deprived of an academic education as mandated by relevant law.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1977 - n/a
Filing Year 1975
Case Ongoing Unknown
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
JI-WA-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/01/1975
Order Authorizing Plaintiff to Proceed in forma Pauperis
JI-WA-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/1975
Motion and Affidavit for an Order to Commence and Prosecute and Action in forma pauperis
JI-WA-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/1975
Memorandum & Opinion
JI-WA-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/01/1977
Reported Opinion (645 P.2d 697)
JI-WA-0007-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/27/1982
Source: Google Scholar
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Judges Faris, Philip H. (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
JI-WA-0007-0002 | JI-WA-0007-0003
Pearson, Vernon R. (State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bovey, Gordon L. (Washington) show/hide docs
Jameson, Elizabeth J. (California) show/hide docs
Jarrett, John (Washington) show/hide docs
JI-WA-0007-0001 | JI-WA-0007-0003 | JI-WA-0007-0004
Valente, Joseph (Washington) show/hide docs
Wiggs, Gary B. (Washington) show/hide docs
JI-WA-0007-0002 | JI-WA-0007-0005
Defendant's Lawyers Brockett, Donald C. (Washington) show/hide docs
Gesinger, Garald (Washington) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Kenyan, Stephen (Washington) show/hide docs

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