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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Office of Protection and Advocacy v. Choinski PC-CT-0015
Docket / Court 3:03CV1352(RNC) ( D. Conn. )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On August 6, 2003, the State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (OPA) filed a §1983 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut against the Connecticut Department of Corrections and two prisons it operated. Plaintiffs, who were represented by ... read more >
On August 6, 2003, the State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (OPA) filed a §1983 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut against the Connecticut Department of Corrections and two prisons it operated. Plaintiffs, who were represented by attorneys for the local ACLU and ACLU's National Prison Project, alleged that prisoners and detainees with mental illness who were confined at CDC's Northern Correctional Institution (CDC's maximum security prison which housed death row inmates) and Garner Correctional Institution were subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Because the plaintiffs were not prisoners, the limitations on settlement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act did not apply.)

Soon after the filing of the lawsuit, the parties entered into settlement negotiations and participated in many court ordered settlement conferences. A tentative settlement agreement was reached in March, 2004. Approval of the proposed agreement was debated by the Connecticut Legislature and a public hearing was held by the joint Judicial Committee of the Connecticut State Senate and House. The settlement was ratified and the parties filed a joint motion to dismiss and approve the settlement with the District Court on September 22, 2005. The District Court (Judge Robert N. Chatigny) entered an order of dismissal and approved and adopted the terms of the Settlement Agreement on September 26, 2005. The District Court retained jurisdiction over the matter to enforce compliance with the Settlement Agreement.

The Agreement provided that services for seriously mentally ill inmates would be consolidated at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, which would be designed as the mental health institution for the CDC. In order to initially determine which inmates would be transferred to Garner, an evaluation of the entire prison population at Northern would be conducted by the UConn Health Center Psychiatric staff. The Agreement also called for increased staffing and changes to mental health evaluation and services. All prisoners and detainees held in the most restrictive form of confinement at NCI were assessed by psychiatric experts to determine whether their placement was appropriate. Individuals with serious mental illness or who were at risk of developing serious mental illness were transferred to a facility with intensive psychiatric services.

Compliance with the Agreement was to be monitored for a period of three years. Each party was to designate a mental health consultant and a confinement consultant to monitor and evaluate compliance. The parties agreed to submit the issue of whether the four monitoring consultants would be granted access to the mental health records of the prisoners. As of the date of this summary, the District Court had not yet resolved that issue.

Dan Dalton - 01/31/2007

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Mental impairment
Classification / placement
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Connecticut Department of Corrections
Garner Correctional Institution
Northern Correctional Institution
Plaintiff Description Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities bringing claims related to the conditions of confinement of inmates housed at the Northern Correctional Institution and Garner Correctional Institution
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2005 - 2008
Filing Year 2003
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

3:03-cv-01352-RNC (D. Conn.)
PC-CT-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/03/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Settlement Agreement
PC-CT-0015-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/08/2004
Judicial Committee Hearing Transcript for 04/13/2004
PC-CT-0015-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/13/2004
Resolution Approving the Settlement Agreement in State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities v. Choinski, et al.
PC-CT-0015-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/21/2004
Order of Dismissal
PC-CT-0015-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/2005
Order (D. Conn.)
PC-CT-0015-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/08/2006
Order (D. Conn.)
PC-CT-0015-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/08/2007
Ruling on Plaintiffs' Motion [ECF# 115] (D. Conn.)
PC-CT-0015-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Contempt [ECF# 133]
PC-CT-0015-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/05/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amendment to Paragraph B.9. of the March 8, 2004 Settlement Agreement [ECF# 145]
PC-CT-0015-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/11/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Chatigny, Robert N. (D. Conn.)
PC-CT-0015-0002 | PC-CT-0015-0003 | PC-CT-0015-0004 | PC-CT-0015-9000
Martinez, Donna F. (D. Conn.) [Magistrate]
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alisberg, Nancy B. (Connecticut)
PC-CT-0015-0001 | PC-CT-0015-0009 | PC-CT-0015-9000
Balaban, Eric G. (District of Columbia)
PC-CT-0015-0007 | PC-CT-0015-0009
Boggs, Erin (Connecticut)
PC-CT-0015-0001 | PC-CT-0015-9000
Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia)
PC-CT-0015-0001 | PC-CT-0015-9000
Lamoreaux, Annette M. (Connecticut)
McGuire, David J. (Connecticut)
PC-CT-0015-0007 | PC-CT-0015-0009
Redman, Renee Colette (Connecticut)
Solnit, Benjamin A. (Connecticut)
PC-CT-0015-0001 | PC-CT-0015-0009 | PC-CT-0015-9000
Tegeler, Philip D. (Connecticut)
Defendant's Lawyers Lynch, Ann E. (Connecticut)
PC-CT-0015-0001 | PC-CT-0015-0007 | PC-CT-0015-9000
O'Neill, Terrance M. (Connecticut)
PC-CT-0015-0001 | PC-CT-0015-0007 | PC-CT-0015-9000
Querijero, Carolyn (Connecticut)
Strom, Steven R. (Connecticut)
PC-CT-0015-0001 | PC-CT-0015-0007 | PC-CT-0015-9000

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