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Case Name Rutherford v. Block JC-CA-0018
Docket / Court 2:75-cv-04111-DDP ( C.D. Cal. )
Additional Docket(s) 2:08-cv-05044-DDP-SH  [ 08-5044 ]
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection California Jail Population Caps
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
ACLU of Southern California
Hadsell, Stormer & Renick
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Public Counsel
Case Summary
On February 9, 1975, prisoners represented by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, challenging the practices and conditions of confinement at the Los Angeles County Central Jail (the "Jail"). On ... read more >
On February 9, 1975, prisoners represented by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, challenging the practices and conditions of confinement at the Los Angeles County Central Jail (the "Jail"). On December 31, 1975, the District Court certified the class.

Following a 17 day trial on the matter and unannounced jail inspections by the Court, the District Court (Judge William P. Gray) entered an order granting plaintiffs injunctive relief and ordering defendants to make twelve different changes in jail conditions. Rutherford v. Pitchess, 457 F.Supp. 104 (C.D.Cal. (1978)). The defendants accepted nine of the District Court's mandated changes, which covered a variety of problems including overcrowding, inadequate exercise, lack of clean clothing and telephone access, and insufficient time to eat meals. It appealed the remaining three that required the changes to procedures relating to (1) contact visits; (2) cell searches; and (3) re-installation of transparent windows in the cells.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the matter to the District Court, for reconsideration of the three disputed changes in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979). Rutherford v. Pitchess, 626 F.2d 866 (9th Cir. 1980). On remand, the District Court reaffirmed its previous order with respect to all three conditions. The defendants appealed again. The Court of Appeals reversed the order requiring re-installation of windows and affirmed the other two changes. Rutherford v. Pitchess, 710 F.2d 572 (9th Cir. 1983). Defendants filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, which was granted. Block v. Rutherford, 464 U.S. 959, 104 S.Ct. 390, 78 L.Ed.2d 334 (1983).

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed, finding that that the jail's policy of denying pretrial detainees contact visits and its practice of conducting random, irregular shakedown searches of cells in absence of the detainees did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Block v. Rutherford, 104 S.Ct. 3227 (1984). We have no information on the status of case proceedings from 1984 to March 1, 1992, when the District Court ordered the case to be reopened.

From 1992 through 2005, various orders and stipulations of the parties were entered regarding payment of attorneys' fees. In September 2005, the District Court (Judge Dean D. Pregerson) denied the application of intervenor Martin Quintana for permissive intervention and to dissolve any prison conditions injunction that may exist. Intervenor Quintana appealed. His appeal was eventually dismissed. A subsequent motion for permissive intervention and to dissolve any prison conditions injunction that may exist was filed by intervenors Costa and Gipson.

On November 18, 2005, the parties entered a stipulation and order agreeing that the Rutherford injunction, as modified, would be applicable to the action. Rutherford v. Block, 2005 WL 3388141 (C.D.Cal. Nov. 18, 2005). Settlement negotiations followed, and on June 16, 2006, the parties agreed to convene a panel of experts to determine the methods by which to ameliorate the conditions identified by plaintiffs at Men's Central Jail ("MCJ").

On October 19, 2006, the District Court held a hearing on plaintiff's Order to Show Cause for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. The Court reviewed the declarations and briefs submitted by the parties. Thereafter, the Court toured the MCJ and the Inmate Reception Center ("ICR"). On October 27, 2006, Judge Pregerson ordered the defendants to show cause why they should not be restrained and enjoined from certain practices and conditions regarding cell limits and jail population at the MCJ. Rutherford v. Baca, 2006 WL 3065781 (C.D.Cal. Oct. 27, 2006). On December 11, the court ordered the Sheriff's Department to submit a proposed timeline to the court for alleviating overcrowding at the MJC, with same-day visitation rights granted to the ACLU. On January 25, 2007, Judge Pregerson renewed the preliminary injunction granted on October 27, 2006 directing defendants to remedy the overcrowding problem at the MCJ and IRC. The preliminary injunction was renewed again on April 20, 2007.

Plaintiffs were awarded over $500,000 in attorneys' fees between November 1997 and February 2006. On November 13, 2007, pursuant to a stipulation between the parties, Judge Pregerson awarded plaintiffs $10,000 per month ($160,000) in attorneys' fees and costs for the period of May 2006 to August 2007. On July 29, 2008, pursuant to another joint stipulation, Judge Pregerson awarded attorneys' fees of $10,000 per month for monitoring services from September 2007 to February 2008, and $17,500 per month for three years beginning in March 2008. Judge Pregerson also awarded a one-time lump sum payment of $300,000 to settle other expenses related to this matter, including $70,000 for expert witness expenses incurred as part of the 2006 panel of experts referenced above.

On June 22, 2009, defendants moved for an order enforcing a 1989 stipulation. Under the 1989 stipulation, the parties had agreed that none of the statements made to the ACLU during prisoner interviews or discussions with the Sheriff's staff as part of the ACLU's monitoring activities would be used in other litigation. The purpose of this agreement was to ensure candid interviews in the effort to develop methods to minimize the impact of jail overcrowding. Such access was granted to the ACLU to monitor in return for the promise that the information obtained would not be used in non-Rutherford litigation. Defendants alleged that in June 2008, the ACLU brought another suit (Johnson v. County of Los Angeles, Case No. CV 08-3515)(JC-CA-0059) using prohibited information. Judge Pregerson vacated the defendants' motion on July 31, 2009 after the parties had resolved this issue.

Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Reopen Discovery on June 15, 2009. Plaintiffs claimed they lacked access to necessary information to monitor and cited specific concerns regarding conditions of the jail, including treatment of mental illness and medical care, access to showers, and unsanitary conditions. On August 4, 2009, Judge Pregerson granted the motion to reopen discovery.

On October 8, 2010, plaintiffs filed a Motion for Protective Order, claiming that defendants were retaliating against prisoner class members who communicated with the ACLU about their conditions of confinement. Plaintiffs filed an Ex Parte Application for Special Hearing on December 15, 2010. Plaintiffs indicated that they intended to move for enforcement of the Rutherford judgment and requested an evidentiary hearing based on "an escalating crisis of deputy violence, abuse, and inmate suicides." The parties resolved some of the matters related to the Protective Order. According to a joint report filed by the parties on April 20, 2011, defendants agreed to update custody policies to provide prisoners with an open ability to complain about issues of confinement and to prevent retaliation against prisoners who did so; post signage about this policy within various facilities and train relevant personnel on the updated policies; take reasonable steps to protect prisoners who have made claims of retaliation which may include the transfer of a prisoner to another housing location; and notify the ACLU of allegations by any prisoner that he or she has been retaliated against for communicating with the ACLU.

On April 22, 2011, Judge Pregerson ordered the parties to evaluate the current procedures and craft a comprehensive policy to ensure that prisoner complaints were properly handled and processed. Judge Pregerson reserved the question of whether the resulting policy would be incorporated into a court order, a matter on which the parties disagreed. An August 2, 2011 status report confirmed that the modified prisoner complaint policy was complete.

On August 5, 2011, plaintiffs filed a supplement to their October 2010 Motion for Protective Order and requested a decision on the motion. Plaintiffs asserted that the ACLU continued to receive reports of retaliation by Sheriff's Department personnel, and claimed that the policy changes were not a substitute for the relief requested in their Motion for Protective Order. On September 28, 2011, plaintiffs filed an Annual Report of the LA County Jails, which included 72 prisoner declarations describing deputy-on-prisoner beatings, deputy-instigated prisoner-on-prisoner violence, and deputy threats of assaults against prisoners that the ACLU had collected in the past year. Judge Pregerson scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the protective order for October 2011; for a variety of reasons this hearing was continued to several different dates in 2011 and 2012 but never took place. On April 23, 2012, Judge Pregerson held a status conference regarding the evidentiary hearing. It is unclear what transpired at the status conference.

On May 25, 2012, defendants filed a Six Month Status Update of Jail Reforms Containing New Policies and Procedures for the Operation of the Los Angeles County Jail System.

On September 28, 2012, plaintiffs filed an Annual Report on Conditions Inside LA County Jails, which focused on excessive use of deputy-on-prisoner head strikes.

On October 12, 2012, Judge Pregerson vacated a number of motions without prejudice, including the Motion for Protective Order filed by plaintiffs in October 2010.

On March 17, 2015, the action was removed without prejudice from the court's active caseload. The court retained jurisdiction of the action until further application by the parties or court order.

Dan Dalton - 02/12/2007
Samantha Kirby - 11/05/2014
Chelsea Rinnig - 03/21/2018

compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Preliminary relief granted
Crowding / caseload
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Grievance Procedures
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Search policies
Totality of 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
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Los Angeles County Sheriff
Plaintiff Description Pre-trial detainees incarcerated at the Los Angeles County Jail.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
ACLU of Southern California
Hadsell, Stormer & Renick
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Public Counsel
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1978 - n/a
Filed 02/09/1975
Case Ongoing Perhaps, but long-dormant
Case Listing JC-CA-0073 : Rosas v. Baca (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0059 : Johnson v. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (C.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  After the Litigation: An Approach to Jail Management Under a Jail Condition Court Order in Los Angeles County (Part 2)
Date: Sept/Oct 1992
By: Frederick R. Bennett
Citation: Am. Jails, September/October 1992, at 30
[ Detail ]

  After the Litigation: An Approach to Jail Management Under a Jail Condition Court Order in Los Angeles County (Part 1)
Date: July/Aug 1992
By: Bennett, Frederick R.
Citation: Am. Jails, July/August 1992, at 81
[ Detail ]

  Coping with a Lawsuit: The Sheriff's Viewpoint
Date: Fall 1987
By: Sherman Block
Citation: 1 Am. Jails 15 (1987)
[ Detail ]

  The Oyez Project, Block v. Rutherford, 468 U.S. 576 (1984).
Date: Jul. 3, 1984
By: Oyez Project (IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

2:08-cv-05044-DDP-JTL (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0018-9002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2:75-cv-04111-DDP (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0018-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/12/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion (457 F.Supp. 104) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0018-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/25/1978
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (626 F.2d 866)
JC-CA-0018-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/08/1980
Opinion (710 F.2d 572)
JC-CA-0018-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/14/1983
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (464 U.S. 959)
JC-CA-0018-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/07/1983
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (486 U.S. 576)
JC-CA-0018-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/03/1994
Source: Westlaw
Order Granting Defendants’ Ex Parte Application for an Order Continuing the Hearing on Proposed Intervenors’ Motion for Permissive Invervention and to Dissolve Injunction, and Extending the Deadline for Defendants to File an Opposition Thereto [ECF# 50] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0018-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/18/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order re: Injunction [ECF# 64]
JC-CA-0018-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/18/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order relating to "Orientation Tour" of Jail [ECF# 81] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/10/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation regarding parties' settlement negotiations: Order thereon [ECF# 94] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0018-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/16/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order to Show Cause Re Issuance of Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0018-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/26/2006
JC-CA-0018-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/05/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Re: Stipulation Attorneys' Fees, Costs, and Other Expenses [ECF# 153] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0018-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/29/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
JC-CA-0018-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/06/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
JC-CA-0018-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/22/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Notice of Filing of Report Concerning Violence in Los Angeles County Jails [ECF# 309]
JC-CA-0018-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/28/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
JC-CA-0018-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/18/2013
show all people docs
Judges Burger, Warren Earl (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
Gray, William Percival (S.D. Cal., C.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
Hillman, Stephen J. (C.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Pregerson, Dean D. (C.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-0001 | JC-CA-0018-0002 | JC-CA-0018-0003 | JC-CA-0018-0004 | JC-CA-0018-0005 | JC-CA-0018-0006 | JC-CA-0018-0008 | JC-CA-0018-0009 | JC-CA-0018-0015 | JC-CA-0018-9000 | JC-CA-0018-9002
Tang, Thomas (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bird, Melinda R. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-0006 | JC-CA-0018-9000
Bronstein, Alvin J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Eliasberg, Peter J. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-0016 | JC-CA-0018-9000
Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Garcia, Ricardo D. (California) show/hide docs
Muller, James S. (California) show/hide docs
Natarajan, Ranjana (California) show/hide docs
Reisman, Erin Kristina (California) show/hide docs
Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-0002 | JC-CA-0018-0004 | JC-CA-0018-9000
Smerling, Terry (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-0010 | JC-CA-0018-0011
Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Matthew Philip (California) show/hide docs
Beach, Paul B (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-0002 | JC-CA-0018-0004 | JC-CA-0018-0006 | JC-CA-0018-9000
Bennett, Frederick R. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-0010 | JC-CA-0018-0011 | JC-CA-0018-0013
Clark, Justin W. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-0008 | JC-CA-0018-9000
Ellyatt, Patricia E (California) show/hide docs
Granbo, Roger H. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-0006 | JC-CA-0018-9000
Larson, John H. (California) show/hide docs
Maranga, Kenneth A (California) show/hide docs
Miller, Gary Neal (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0018-9000 | JC-CA-0018-9000
Peterson, John Francis (California) show/hide docs
Plowden, Geoffrey R (California) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Goller, Karlene Worthington (California) show/hide docs
Sager, Kelli L. (California) show/hide docs
Seager, Susan E. (California) show/hide docs
Wickers, Alonzo B. IV (California) show/hide docs
Yagman, Stephen (California) show/hide docs
Yagman, Marion R. (California) show/hide docs

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