On February 14, 1973, eleven inmates in the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against ADOC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Phoenix Division. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging violations of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights in conjunction with ADOC's mail policies. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that they had constitutional rights to subscribe to Playboy, to send outgoing letters to public judicial officers, to send letters to persons not on approved mailing lists, and to receive letters from more than ten persons.
Before the class was certified, on October 19, 1973, the District Court (Judge Carl A. Muecke) approved a consent decree respecting proposed mail regulations for the Arizona Department of Corrections, and dismissed the action with prejudice. The consent decree allowed mail to be inspected for contraband only and prohibited the reading and censure of all incoming mail and 90% of outgoing mail, specifically allowing inmates to receive Christmas food packages; the consent decree established standards for censorship and procedures for dealing with contraband.
On May 10, 1974, the District Court (Judge Muecke), notwithstanding his previous dismissal with prejudice, approved an amendment to the consent decree citing intervening occurrences and experience. The amendment respected problems peculiar to money orders and mail pick-up in restrictive security zones.
The case remained closed from 1974 until 1991. However, between 1982 and 1987 ADOC made several changes in the mail regulations and, in 1990, passed new regulations governing Christmas packages. In 1990, 265 inmates, none of whom were a party to the original suit, brought an action against the ADOC to enforce the 1973 consent decree, alleging that new prison regulations conflicted with the decree.
On December 6, 1990, the District Court (Judge Muecke) granted an injunction prohibiting the implementation of the new regulations. The defendants appealed.
On July 23, 1992, as amended on September 1, 1992, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Charles E. Wiggins) affirmed the District Court's December 6, 1990, ruling. Hook v. State of Arizona, Dept. of Corrections, 972 F.2d 1012 (9th Cir. 1992). The Court held that, since the inmates had standing to enforce the earlier consent decree and even if the consent decree was overly broad, the ADOC had to honor the decree and could only seek relief by motion to modify or vacate the decree.
ADOC subsequently attempted to modify the consent decree and implement new policies. In October 1992, ADOC filed a motion to modify the consent decree by removing the provision allowing the inmates to receive Christmas food packages, and shortly thereafter issued memorandums changing the prison policy. On January 13, 1993, the District Court (Judge Muecke) enjoined ADOC from implementing the new policy. On January 31, 1994, the Governor banned certain magazines and the Director of ADOC issued a memorandum implementing the ban. At a hearing in February 1994, ADOC reported that the Director had withdrawn the order.
On June 3, 1994, the District Court (Judge Muecke) found the Director of ADOC in civil contempt for issuing the January 31, 1993, memorandum. And on June 8, 1994, the Court appointed a special master to investigate ongoing allegations of noncompliance and to monitor the implementation of the Christmas package provision. On August 4, 1994, the Court granted in part the plaintiffs' motion for class certification.
In October 1994, the District Court (Judge Muecke) adopted most of the special master's recommendations with respect to Christmas packages and issued an order that purported to clarify the provision. When subsequent settlement negotiations failed, the Court denied ADOC's motion to modify the decree and granted the plaintiffs' motion. The defendants appealed.
On October 25, 1996, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge David R. Thompson) reversed the District Court's October 1994 ruling, which granted the plaintiffs' motion to allow hot pots in cells and denied the defendants' motion to modify the consent decree, and remanded. Hook v. Arizona, 98 F.3d 1177 (9th Cir. 1996). The Court held that ADOC did show a change in circumstances evidenced by a great increase in prison population, and that there was no evidence that the parties intended to include hot pots as a right in the consent decree.
Upon a rehearing of the case and a withdrawal of the October 25, 1996, opinion, on July 17, 1997, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Thompson) affirmed in part and reversed in part the District Court's October 1994 ruling. Hook v. Arizona, 120 F.3d 921 (9th Cir. 1997). While the Court held again held that ADOC did show a change in circumstances and that a modification that allowed inmates to use hot pots was erroneous, it reversed in part, holding that the appointment of a special master to monitor compliance with the consent decree was not an abuse of discretion by the District Court. On October 6, 1997, the Supreme Court denied certiorari. Arizona v. Hook, 522 U.S. 865 (1997).
On November 6, 1997, in line with the Ninth Circuit's decision, the District Court (Judge Stephen M. McNamee) granted the defendants' motion to modify the consent decree to eliminate the inmates' ability to receive holiday food packages and ordered that inmates could no longer possess and use hot pots.
Earlier, with respect to ADOC's failure to pay special masters' fees, Hook v. Arizona was consolidated with three other cases, namely Gluth v. Kangas, PC-AZ-011, Casey v. Lewis, PC-AZ-004, and Arnold v. Lewis, MH-AZ-001.
On October 17, 1995, the District Court (Judge David Alan Ezra), ruling on the consolidated cases, granted the plaintiffs' motions to hold the Director of ADOC in contempt, found unconstitutional an Arizona law excepting the State from paying Special Masters, and denied the defendants' motions to modify. Hook v. Arizona, 907 F. Supp. 1326 (D. Ariz. 1995). The defendants appealed.
On February 27, 1997, as amended on April 22, 1997, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Thompson) affirmed the District Court's October 17, 1995, ruling. Hook v. Arizona, 107 F.3d 1397 (9th Cir. 1997). The Court found that the supremacy clause precluded application of the state statute, the Eleventh Amendment did not prohibit the court from ordering state to pay the special masters, the state statute did not make it impossible for the Director of ADOC to comply with the decree and the District Court's imposition of a fine was not an abuse of discretion.
From 1998 to 2000, litigation continued in which the District Court (Judge McNamee) entertained numerous plaintiff motions to enforce the consent decree and numerous defendant motions to modify or vacate the consent decree.
On September 20, 2000, the District Court (Judge McNamee) granted the defendants' motion to amend the consent decree and incorporated the defendants' proposed policy revisions.
On September 12, 2003, the District Court (Judge McNamee) granted the defendants' motions to vacate the consent decree and dismiss the case. Judge McNamee denied subsequent motions for vacation of the September 12, 2003 judgment. The plaintiffs appealed.
On December 15, 2005, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted one plaintiff's motion for voluntary dismissal of the appeal. The appeal was dismissed.
We have no more information on this file.Josh Altman - 06/12/2006