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Case Name Newman v. Alabama PC-AL-0017
Docket / Court 3501N ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Court-ordered receiverships
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
In 1972, Alabama prisoners filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Alabama in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The plaintiffs, who were represented by court appointed attorney Joe Phelps, asked the Court to grant them declaratory and ... read more >
In 1972, Alabama prisoners filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Alabama in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The plaintiffs, who were represented by court appointed attorney Joe Phelps, asked the Court to grant them declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that their constitutional rights had been violated by inadequate medical care.

On October 4, 1972, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (Judge Frank M. Johnson) found 8th and 14th Amendment violations relating to the inadequate medical care and treatment of state inmates. The Court granted declaratory and injunctive relief, finding that approximately 10% of the inmate population was psychotic and another 60% mentally disturbed enough to require treatment and ordering the Board of Corrections to undertake extensive changes in its present practices in order to provide adequate medical care to inmates. The Court also awarded the plaintiffs their attorney fees. Newman v. State of Alabama, 349 F.Supp. 278 (M.D.Ala. 1972). The defendants appealed.

On November 8, 1974, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sustained the District Court's finding of constitutional violations and held that the case was properly decided. Newman v. State of Alabama, 503 F.2d 1320 (5th Cir. 1974). The defendants asked for a rehearing en banc; the Fifth Circuit refused. The defendants then sought Supreme Court review, and on January 10, 1975, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the writ of certiorari. Newman v. State of Alabama, 421 U.S. 948 (1975).

On January 13, 1976, in the class action lawsuit Pugh v. Locke, the District Court (Judge Johnson) found Alabama's prison system's living conditions to be unconstitutional in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments. The District Court enjoined the State of Alabama and the Board of Corrections from maintaining a prison system not in compliance with constitutional standards, appointing a 39-member Human Rights Committee for the Alabama Prison System (with Rod Nachman as chair) to monitor implementation of the court order. Pugh v. Locke, 406 F. Supp. 318 (M.D.Ala. 1976).

The defendants appealed, and on September 16, 1977, the Fifth Circuit consolidated Pugh v. Lock with Newman v. Alabama and with a third case named James v. Wallace, where Alabama inmates were challenging the conditions of their confinement. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court's finding of constitutional violations, but they dissolved the 39-member Human Rights Committee ordering that their functions would terminate and remanding the case to the District Court to appoint a separate monitor for each prison. Newman v. Alabama, 559 F.2d 283 (5th Cir. 1977).

On May 18, 1981, the District Court held a hearing, where it was stipulated that Alabama prisons had not met deadlines set by the federal court order, and that the overcrowding situation had actually gotten worse. On July 15, 1981, the District Court ordered the defendants to release 400 inmates, whose names were to be specified 9 days later.

Before the names of the inmates to be released were specified, Attorney General Graddick sought to intervene and filed a notice of appeal with the Fifth Circuit, requesting that they stay the District Court's order until the appeal was settled. On July 23, 1981, the Fifth Circuit refused to stay the District Court's order. Pursuant to the order of the District Court, 400 inmates were to be released at midnight on July 24, 1981, but this was halted when the U.S. Supreme Court (Justice Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.) granted a temporary stay. Attorney General Graddick requested a permanent stay, but the Supreme Court declined. Graddick v. Newman, No. A-72, 1981 WL 381035 (U.S. July 25, 1981). On September 2, 1981, Graddick's reapplication for a stay, which was filed with the Chief Justice, was denied by the full Supreme Court. Graddick v. Newman, 453 U.S. 928 (1981).

On August 9, 1982, the Fifth Circuit (Judge Robert Varner) ruled on the appeal, holding that the District Court erred in ordering the defendants to reduce unconstitutional overcrowding by releasing prisoners. The Fifth Circuit found that the District Court had abused its discretion, ordering relief that was "impermissibly intrusive on State's prerogative to administer its prison and parole system." Newman v. Alabama, 683 F. 2d 1312 (11th Cir. 1982).

On January 18, 1983, the District Court entered a consent decree in the case, and the Commissioner of Corrections began to submit quarterly compliance reports. On September 6, 1983, the plaintiffs filed a motion for additional relief, claiming that the prisons were still overcrowded and asking the District Court to enjoin the defendants from holding more prisoners than the prisons were equipped to handle. On November 4, 1983, the District Court issued an order restraining the defendants from enforcing a separate State court order (concerning which we have no information) and ordered the defendants to release enough prisoners to bring the prisons back within their proper occupancy levels. The District Court ordered Commissioner Smith to continue implementation of the quarterly reporting program and held Graddick in contempt of court. On December 7, 1983, the District Court issued a further order holding Commissioner Smith in contempt for his refusal to release prisoners. Both Graddick and Smith appealed.

On September 10, 1984, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, reviewed the orders issued by the District Court and reversed the findings of contempt against Graddick and Smith. The Eleventh Circuit also held that the District Court erred in ordering release of inmates without allowing a showing that conditions of confinement were no longer unconstitutional. Newman v. Graddick, 740 F. 2d 1513 (11th Cir. 1984).

On November 27, 1984, the District Court (Judge Varner) dismissed the case without prejudice pursuant to a consent order of dismissal that had been jointly filed by all parties.

On December 29, 1987, the Implementation Committee, which was created for monitoring purposes, reported to the District Court that overcrowding was still a big problem in the Alabama prisons. The next day, the District Court reactivated the case so that the Court could conduct further review of the prisons. The Committee the filed a further report with the Court, in which it concluded that even though constitutional violations may occur in the future, "future claims of constitutional violations should be resolved in other litigation properly presented to the courts," and that this case should be dismissed. On December 28, 1988, the District Court (Judge Varner) dismissed the case with prejudice.

Dan Dalton - 09/24/2007

compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Content of Injunction
Crowding / caseload
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Alabama Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmates within the Alabama Penal System.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1972 - 1988
Filing Year 1972
Case Closing Year 1984
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-AL-0010 : Pugh v. Locke (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0030 : James v. Wallace (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0003 : Alabama v. Smith (State Court)
Additional Resources
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  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

  Prison Litigation and Bureaucratic Development
Date: Winter 1992
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: 17 L. & Soc. Inquiry 125 (1992)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Reform and Regret: The Story of Federal Judicial Involvement in the Alabama Prison System
Date: 04/06/1989
By: Larry W. Yackle (Boston University School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1989)
[ Detail ]

  The Alabama Prison Litigation
Date: Winter 1984
By: Tinsley E. Yarbrough (East Carolina University Faculty)
Citation: 9 Justice Sys. Journal 276 (1984)
[ Detail ]

  Punitive Conditions of Prison Confinement: An Analysis of Pugh v. Locke and Federal Court Supervision of State Penal Administration Under the Eighth Amendment
Date: May 1977
By: Ira P. Robbins and Michael B. Buser (American University)
Citation: 29 Stan. L. Rev. 893 (1977)
[ Detail ]

3501-N (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/29/1983
General Documents
Opinion (349 F.Supp. 278) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/04/1972
Source: Google Scholar
Table of Decisions (503 F.2d 565)
PC-AL-0017-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/16/1974
Appellate Decision (503 F.2d 1320)
PC-AL-0017-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/08/1974
Source: Google Scholar
Table of Decisions (506 F.2d 1056)
PC-AL-0017-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/10/1975
Source: Google Scholar
Denial of Petition for Writ of Certiorari (421 U.S. 948)
PC-AL-0017-0019.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/28/1975
Source: Westlaw
Appellate Decision (522 F.2d 71)
PC-AL-0017-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/29/1975
Source: Google Scholar
Appellate Decision (559 F.2d 283)
PC-AL-0017-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/16/1977
Source: Google Scholar
Table of Decisions (564 F.2d 97)
PC-AL-0017-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/07/1977
Dismissal of Appeals Case [Table] (568 F.2d 204)
PC-AL-0017-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/31/1978
Denial of Petition for Writ of Certiorari (438 U.S. 915)
PC-AL-0017-0020.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/03/1978
Source: Westlaw
Appellate Decision (578 F.2d 565)
PC-AL-0017-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/07/1978
Memorandum (466 F.Supp. 628) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/02/1979
Source: Google Scholar
On Application for Stay (1981 WL 381035)
PC-AL-0017-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/25/1981
Source: Westlaw
Supreme Court Opinion (453 U.S. 928)
PC-AL-0017-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/02/1981
Appellate Decision (683 F.2d 1312)
PC-AL-0017-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/09/1982
Source: Google Scholar
Appellate Decision (696 F.2d 796)
PC-AL-0017-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/05/1983
Source: Google Scholar
Denial of Petition for Writ of Certiorari (460 U.S. 1083)
PC-AL-0017-0021.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/18/1983
Source: Westlaw
Appellate Decision (740 F.2d 1513)
PC-AL-0017-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/10/1984
Source: Google Scholar
Consent Order of Dismissal (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/29/1984
Order (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/28/1988
Memorandum Opinion (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/28/1988
Judges Ainsworth, Robert Andrew Jr. (E.D. La., Fifth Circuit)
Bell, Kenneth B. (State Supreme Court)
Brown, Janice Rogers (D.C. Circuit)
Clark, Thomas Alonzo (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0010 | PC-AL-0017-0011
Clark, Charles (Fifth Circuit)
Coleman, James Plemon (Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0013
Dyer, David William (S.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
Fay, Peter Thorp (S.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
Gee, Thomas Gibbs (Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0013
Gewin, Walter Pettus (Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Godbold, John Cooper (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
Goldberg, Irving Loeb (Fifth Circuit)
Johnson, Frank Minis Jr. (M.D. Ala., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0008
Kravitch, Phyllis A. (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
Kunzig, Robert Lowe ()
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0013
Morgan, Lewis Render (N.D. Ga., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0009
Powell, Lewis Franklin Jr. (SCOTUS)
PC-AL-0017-0017 | PC-AL-0017-0018
Rehnquist, William Hubbs (SCOTUS)
Roney, Paul Hitch (FISCR, Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0010 | PC-AL-0017-0011
Simpson, John Milton Bryan (S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit, M.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Thornberry, William Homer (W.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Tjoflat, Gerald Bard (M.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
Tuttle, Elbert Parr (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
Varner, Robert Edward (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0017-0001 | PC-AL-0017-0002 | PC-AL-0017-0003
Wisdom, John Minor (Fifth Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bell, John C. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Butler, Philip H. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Cameron, John F. (Alabama)
Carroll, John L. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-0011 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Curtis, Jack M. (Alabama)
Levin, Joseph J. Jr. (Alabama)
Phelps, Joseph D. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007
Segall, Robert D. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Taylor, George Peach (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008
Teague, Barry E. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Wallis, Kenneth Dallon II (Alabama)
Defendant's Lawyers Agricola, Algert Swanson Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0011 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Ansley, Eva (Alabama)
Barnes, William Scears Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009
Baxley, William J. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007
Beck, George (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007
Drake, Jack (Alabama)
Graddick, Charles A. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Hamlett Davis, Rosa G. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Henry, Herbert H III (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Lamar, Robert S. (Alabama)
Lawson, Thomas S. Jr. (Alabama)
Lockett, John R. (Alabama)
Martin, William K. (Alabama)
McAlpine, Thomas R. (Alabama)
Nachman, M. R. Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Newman, Larry R. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008
Samford, Jimmy (Alabama)
Smyly, Terry (Alabama)
Sorrels, Thomas (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Strickland, Edwin A. (Alabama)
Waters, Michael D. (Alabama)
Wilson, Frank M. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0011 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Other Lawyers Bailey, Dennis R. (Alabama)
Barnett, Walter W. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0007
Bronstein, Alvin J. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-0010 | PC-AL-0017-0011 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Dale, Mitchell W. (District of Columbia)
DeMent, Ira (Alabama)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Eisenstein, Miriam R. (District of Columbia)
Fuoco, Philip Stephen (New Jersey)
Hoyle, John C. (District of Columbia)
Knowles, Ralph I. Jr. (Georgia)
PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-0009 | PC-AL-0017-0010
Littlefield, Patricia Gail (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0004 | PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006 | PC-AL-0017-0008 | PC-AL-0017-9000
Loftman, Michael S. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Myers, Matthew L. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008
Norman, David L. (District of Columbia)
Pottinger, J. Stanley (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0005 | PC-AL-0017-0006
Schneider, Charles A. (District of Columbia)
Shinbaum, Richard D. (Alabama)
Thrasher, Louis M. (District of Columbia)
Whinston, Stephen A. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0017-0007 | PC-AL-0017-0008

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