In 1972, two inmates at the Arizona State Prison in Florence, Arizona, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the State of Arizona in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The two cases were filed separately but later consolidated. The plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the defendants had violated their constitutional rights by subjecting them to unconstitutional disciplinary rules, denying them procedural due process, depriving them of good time credits, and subjecting them to inadequate diets and degrading living conditions while in isolation.
On December 22, 1972, the district court entered an interim agreement in the case, which provided for the adoption of new substantive and procedural rules of discipline and the restoration of good-time credits. The parties filed a stipulation October 19, 1973 reflecting agreed changes to the Final Draft as well as one ordered change, and the "final settlement" of two-for-one time restoration. On the same day, judgment was entered in plaintiffs' favor. The judgment recognized that the "class herein includes all inmates who were and are serving sentences at the Arizona State Prison during the pendency of this action, as heretofore ordered by the Court and through the date of this judgment...." It approved the Prisoner Rules, Regulations and Discipline Program attached as an exhibit and incorporated by reference. It directed the State to immediately adjust inmate release dates in accordance with the settlement of two-for-one time restoration stipulated by the parties. And it provided "[t]hat all relief sought by plaintiff members of the class heretofore designated to which they are entitled is granted by this Judgment and that the class, collectively and individually, is entitled to no other relief under this action."
In November 1979, Arizona moved to modify the October 19, 1973 judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) to substitute new "Disciplinary Rules for the Arizona Department of Corrections" for the 1973 prison rules and regulations. The district court approved the new rules as meeting constitutional standards. Arizona filed another motion to modify the judgment on January 6, 1994, this time seeking "modification of the consent decree entered in this matter in 1972" in order to permit the Prison System to adopt a new disciplinary system. This motion was summarily granted on February 24, 1994. However, two members of the class acting pro se moved on January 18, 1995 to vacate the February 24, 1994 order on the ground that they were not given notice of Arizona's motion. Judge Copple, to whom the matter had originally been assigned, recused himself and it was reassigned to Judge Broomfield, who on March 21, 1997 vacated the February 24, 1994 order on due process grounds but stayed that order pending consideration of Arizona's now-revived Rule 60(b)(5) motion.
On August 4, 1996, the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), purporting to appear for the State of Arizona, asked the court to terminate the decree pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). On August 16, 1996, the district court (Judge Robert C. Broomfield) denied the ADC's motion, ruling that they had not appeared properly in the case. Later, however, the court permitted the ADC to appear as amicus.
Meanwhile, on September 3, 1996, Arizona moved "to terminate the consent decree entered in this case on December 22, 1972, and modified by Order filed February 24, 1994, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) of Civil Procedure and 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b), the Prison Litigation Reform Act." The district court (Judge Broomfield) denied the September 3, 1996 motion to terminate, and granted plaintiffs' motion to declare § 3626(b)(2) of the PLRA unconstitutional. 972 F.Supp. 1239, 1249 (D.Ariz.1997). Arizona (joined by the United States) appealed.
On May 4, 1998, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge William Canby, Jr., Judge Stephen Reinhardt, and Judge Jane Restani) affirmed the district court's ruling, holding that the PLRA was unconstitutional. Taylor v. U.S., 143 F.3d 1178 (9th Cir. 1998). The defendants filed for rehearing. On November 3, 1998, the 9th Circuit withdrew the opinion and agreed to rehear the case en banc. Taylor v. U.S., 158 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 1998). On June 18, 1999, the en banc 9th Circuit (Judge Pamela Ann Rymer) affirmed the district court's denial of the motion to terminate, holding that the motion was moot, because the 1972 agreement was supplanted by the 1973 judgment, and that judgment did not constitute "prospective relief" subject to termination by the PLRA. Taylor v. U.S., 181 F.3d 1017 (9th Cir. 1999). We have no further information on the proceedings in this case.Kristen Sagar - 09/25/2006