On July 6, 1979, prisoners on death row at the California State Prison at San Quentin filed a class action lawsuit under 42 USC § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Prison Warden and the State Director of Corrections alleging a violation of their Eighth Amendment rights. A consent decree was entered on October 23, 1980, which required the prison to take corrective actions in areas such as housing, treatment, and privileges afforded to condemned prisoners.
In 1982, the plaintiffs moved to hold prison officials in contempt for failure to comply with the consent decree. Plaintiffs also moved for an order requiring the defendants to provide hearings for reclassifications of prisoners. Both motions were denied on June 29, 1982. The District Court (Judge Stanley A. Weigel) held that the officials were not in contempt because their noncompliance was based largely upon increases in prison populations and that officials were not required to provide hearings for reclassification. Thomson v. Enomoto, 542 F. Supp. 768 (N.D.Cal. 1982).
On January 11, 1985, plaintiffs moved to have a monitor appointed. After arguments on both sides, the Court appointed a monitor on March 25, 1985. The defendants appealed and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Diarmuid Fionntain O'Scannlain) dismissed the appeal holding that the order was not appealable. Thompson v. Enomoto, 815 F.2d 1323 (9th Cir. 1987).
On March 17, 1988, after the monitor's second report, the parties agreed to modify the decree. The prison officials agreed to provide free weights for outside exercise and access to electronic typewriters. In exchange, the prisoners agreed to afford the prison officials latitude to restrain them during movement off the tier and to dismiss a pending action by an individual prisoner regarding access to typewriters.
On October 5, 1989, the District Court adopted the monitor's fourth report, which included a recommendation to withdraw certain privileges from Grade B condemned prisoners. The plaintiffs appealed regarding these recommended changes. The defendants also appealed the order adopting the fourth report. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the adoption of the report on October 4, 1990. Thompson v. Enomoto, 915 F.2d 1383 (9th Cir. 1990).
In December, 1989, plaintiffs moved for attorney's fees and in an order dated December 12, 1990, plaintiffs were granted 82.7% of the fee amount they originally sought. In July, 1992, plaintiffs submitted a claim for merits fees incurred since the first motion for fees. In July, 1993, the District Court (Judge Weigel) approved an arithmetic reduction of fees-on-fees, such that the plaintiffs would be awarded 82.7% of the amount they requested. Plaintiffs appealed and the Court of Appeals (Judge Alfred Theodore Goodwin) affirmed on January 25, 1995. Thompson v. Gomez, 45 F.3d 1365 (9th Cir. 1995).
In 1997, defendants moved to terminate the remainder of the consent decree under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), which requires courts to terminate prospective relief upon defendants' motion under certain circumstances. Plaintiffs filed a counter motion to declare the termination provision of the PLRA unconstitutional. The District Court (Judge Charles A. Legge) found that the termination provision, as applied, was constitutional and granted the defendants' motion for termination. Thompson v. Gomez, 993 F.Supp. 749 (N.D.Cal. 1997).
Plaintiffs appealed the termination. This appeal was consolidated with another Constitutional challenge to the PLRA. The Court of Appeals (Judge Betty Binns Fletcher) held that the District Court should have examined the court record and the relief granted by the decree in order to determine whether it was narrowly tailored and minimally intrusive, rather than simply having considered whether there were any explicit findings to this effect. Both cases were reversed and remanded. Gilmore v. People of the State of California, 220 F.3d. 987 (9th Cir. 2000).
In May 2004, Judge William Alsup denied the plaintiffs' motion to modify the consent decree. The plaintiffs' attempts to appeal were also denied. In May 2005, the parties jointly stipulated to certain modifications of the consent decree. Neither party presented any evidence, and counsel stipulated that the modification was based on violations of the Eighth Amendment and that it was narrowly drawn to correct the violation.
On October 4, 2006, the District Court refused to accept the stipulated PLRA findings and denied the motion to modify the consent decree, stating that it "cannot in good faith acquiesce in such a conclusory and collusive finding." Lancaster v. Tilton, No. C 79-01630, 2006 WL 2850015 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 4, 2006). Both parties appealed the District Court's decision, but in January 2007 filed a joint motion for voluntary dismissal.
On February 6, 2007, Judge Alsup awarded plaintiffs attorney's fees for the period from January 1, 1999 through December 31, 2006 in the amount of $141,797.63.
Plaintiffs filed three motions on April 2, 2007: a Motion to Modify the Consent Decree, a Motion for Contempt and Order Enforcing Consent Decree, and a Motion to Enforce Judgment. On June 21, 2007, Judge Alsup granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs' Motion for Contempt and Enforcement, and found that an evidentiary hearing was necessary to determine certain issues (2007 WL 1807825). On August 21, 2007, defendants moved to terminate the consent decree. Due to an interlocutory appeal that was eventually withdrawn (07-16283), the hearing had to be renoticed in mid-October 2007.
Judge Alsup granted in part and denied in part defendants' motion to terminate the consent decree on December 21, 2007 (2007 WL 4570185). The District Court's Order terminated provisions related to the following issues: meals and hot carts, hobbycraft, high school education, classification, staff screening, interruption of access to exercise yards, weight benches, jump ropes, ping-pong tables, yard showers, clothing, number of tier showers, contents of showers, and group religious services. Many of these provisions were terminated because they exceeded any "federal right" within the meaning of the PLRA and thus were required to be terminated. Others were terminated because they were not necessary to correct a current and ongoing violation of a federal right. Judge Alsup also found there was a need for further factual development with respect to the remaining provisions in dispute regarding outdoor exercise, raincoats, laundry, cleaning supplies, shower cleaning, rodents and vermin, noise, tier telephones, visitation, and access to legal materials. Accordingly, Judge Alsup set an evidentiary hearing which began January 14, 2008 and lasted six days. On February 15, 2008, Judge Alsup issued an Order finding that with respect to cleaning supplies, shower cleaning, noise, rodents and vermin, either there were current and ongoing constitutional violations or, at a minimum, defendants had not carried their burden to establish the contrary. Judge Alsup found that defendants met their burden of showing that there were no current and ongoing constitutional violations for the rest of the provisions, which were then terminated by the Order (2008 WL 449844).
On February 28, 2008, Judge Alsup ordered Magistrate Judge Nandor J. Vadas to assist in supervising the consent decree and mediating certain issues relating to sanitary conditions from the February 15 Order. The parties met and, on March 25, 2008, entered into a stipulation regarding how the work would be accomplished so the facility would be in compliance with the District Court's February 15 Order.
Judge Alsup granted plaintiffs attorney's fees on July 14, 2008 (2008 WL 2774260). Judge Alsup specified the method the parties were to use to determine the fees, and the parties were directed to confer regarding the calculation.
On March 3, 2009, Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas submitted a final report regarding the remaining violations in the consent decree and recommended the consent decree be vacated. Judge Alsup adopted the report on March 26, 2009 (2009 WL 837643). The parties were invited to show cause as to why the consent decree should not be vacated and the case closed. Neither party objected to the report or recommendation. On April 14, 2009, Judge Alsup terminated the consent decree.
The final award of attorney's fees and costs, for the period of January 1, 2009 to April 20, 2009, was awarded on May 1, 2009 in the amount of $3,841.04.Kristen Sagar - 11/09/2006
Samantha Kirby - 11/12/2014