University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Morgan v. City of Houston JC-TX-0011
Docket / Court H-76-629 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
In 1976, a lawsuit was filed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf of inmates who were incarcerated for failure to pay a fine, alleging that the City of Houston violated their due process rights because they had not been given the opportunity to show whether they ... read more >
In 1976, a lawsuit was filed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf of inmates who were incarcerated for failure to pay a fine, alleging that the City of Houston violated their due process rights because they had not been given the opportunity to show whether they could afford to pay the fines, they were not provided with lawyers, and they were not informed of their right to defer payment rather than face incarceration. The complaint further alleged that conditions at the Houston City Jail were unconstitutional. The inmates sought injunctive and declaratory relief. Specific details about proceedings early in the case are not available because we only found a digital copy of the paper form of the docket, and we do not have access to the orders and pleadings that were filed.

In 1979, the Court (Judge Sim Lake) certified a class and allowed the litigation to proceed as a class action. Another case, filed in 1980, was consolidated into this case.

On September 25, 1989, the parties entered into a consent decree, which established procedures for medical care, food service, provision of a pharmacy, 24-hour medical intake, 24-hour medical call, and training for health workers. It also provided for the closure of the Municipal Prison Farm, the implementation of capital improvements for the construction of police command stations and lock-up facilities. The consent decree required the City to pay $41,933.04 in attorney fees as well.

In October 1994, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce provisions of the decree relating to portions of the medical policies, specifically complaining of the failure to implement 24-hour medical intake, failure to provide certain medical screenings, and the provision of on-call pharmacists. In 1996, the parties agreed to an order for the enforcement of the consent decree provisions, and for the provision of attorney fees and court costs in the amount of $12,747.89 to the plaintiffs (for a combined total of $54,680.93 when combined with previous attorney fees paid by the City).

On February 8, 2011, the plaintiffs alleged that the City still had periods of overcrowding, which resulted increased the likelihood of violence among inmates and between inmates and staff. However, because the City has substantially complied with almost all provisions of the consent decree, and has been able to reduce crowding since the status conference, the Court granted defendant's motion to terminate the consent decree on August 1, 2013.

Denise Lieberman - 11/14/2005
Maurice Youkanna - 07/08/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Hire
Monitoring
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Failure to train
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) City of Houston
Plaintiff Description Inmates incarcerated for failure to pay a fine.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1989 - 2013
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JC-IL-0004 : Ortiz v. Turner (S.D. Ill.)
Additional Resources
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  Bravo v. Board of Commissioners of Dona Ana County
http://www.bazelon.org/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
H-76-0629 (S.D. Tex.)
JC-TX-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/29/1997
H-76-629 (S.D. Tex.)
JC-TX-0011-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Motion for Enforcement of Consent Decree and for Sanctions
JC-TX-0011-0003.pdf | Detail
Date:
Notice of Class Action and Proposed Settlement
JC-TX-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/11/1989
Consent Decree
JC-TX-0011-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/1989
Order [Granting Motion to Terminate Consent Decree] [ECF# 143] (S.D. Tex.)
JC-TX-0011-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lake, Simeon Timothy III Court not on record
JC-TX-0011-0004 | JC-TX-0011-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Daniel, Luke (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9000
Nelson, Eric (Washington)
JC-TX-0011-9000
Vaughn, Stephen (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9000 | JC-TX-0011-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Camprice, Robert (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9000
Chan, Andrea (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9000 | JC-TX-0011-9001
Higley, Timothy James (Texas)
JC-TX-0011-9001

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