University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Dilley v. Gunn PC-CA-0021
Docket / Court 92-1305 ( S.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In August, 1992, an inmate at Calipatria State Prison filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The plaintiff, at first represented by himself and later by private counsel, asked the court for ... read more >
In August, 1992, an inmate at Calipatria State Prison filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The plaintiff, at first represented by himself and later by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief, alleging that the defendants had violated his First and Eighth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiff contended that the defendants violated his right of access to the courts by failing to provide reasonable access to the prison law library and that the conditions of confinement violated the Eighth Amendment.

On March 29, 1993, the District Court (Judge Judith N. Keep) granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment with respect to the law library claim, denied summary judgment for all other claims, and ordered the defendants to improve inmate access to the law library. Judge Keep held that the defendants did not provide constitutionally adequate access to the law library and appointed Magistrate Judge Barry T. Moskowitz as Special Master to recommend to the District Court a plan to improve library access.

On May 11, 1993, the District Court (Judge Keep) denied the plaintiff's application for an order to show cause--an application which requested that the Court order the defendants to provide a constitutionally adequate prison library--construing it to be one for a preliminary injunction.

On June 7, 1993, the District Court (Judge Keep) granted several defendants' motions for summary judgment on the issue of damages with respect to the library access claim, as well as one defendant's motion for summary judgment on the claim that the plaintiff was denied food in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The plaintiff appealed.

In a September 1993 report, the Magistrate Court (Judge Moskowitz) recommended expanding the library's size, allowing inmates to have access to the stacks and to check out more books at a time, implementing a training program for inmate law clerks, and increasing inmate visits to the library. In addition, Judge Moskowitz recommended holding a compliance hearing to take place after six months.

On December 15, 2003, the District Court (Judge Keep) accepted Judge Moskowitz's plan. The defendants appealed.

On March 30, 1994, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges Betty B. Fletcher, Melvin T. Brunetti, and Stephen S. Trott) affirmed the in part and dismissed in part the District Court's June 7, 1993, decision. Dilley v. Gunn, 21 F.3d 1112 (9th Cir. 1994). The Court affirmed the District Court's denial of the plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction and held that the District Court orders of March 29, 1993, and June 7, 1993, were not final judgments and therefore not appealable.

On September 8, 1995, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges Betty B. Fletcher, Charles E. Wiggins, and Ferdinand F. Fernandez) remanded the case with respect to the District Court's December 15, 1994, decision. Dilley v. Gunn, 64 F.3d 1365 (9th Cir. 1995). Judge Fletcher held that the appeal was moot because the plaintiff was no longer incarcerated at Calipatria, and remanded the case to determine whether the order granting injunctive relief should be vacated. In a concurring opinion, Judge Fernandez expressed doubt that the injunction could remain in effect after the matter had become moot.

On December 15, 1995, the District Court (Judge Keep) vacated the December 7, 1993, adoption of the Special Master's Report as well as the April 21, 1993, appointment of counsel. Judge Keep dismissed the case.

Josh Altman - 06/01/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Disciplinary procedures
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Law library access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Calipatria State Prison
Plaintiff Description Inmate alleging violation of his right of access to courts by failing to provide reasonable access to prison's law library
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1992 - 1995
Filed 1992
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 ]

92-1305 (S.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/13/1996
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum (21 F.3d 1112)
PC-CA-0021-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/30/1994
Reported Opinion (64 F.3d 1365)
PC-CA-0021-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/08/1995
Source: Google Scholar
show all people docs
Judges Brunetti, Melvin T. (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
Fletcher, Betty Binns (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0021-0001 | PC-CA-0021-0002
Keep, Judith Nelsen (S.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
Moskowitz, Barry Ted (S.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
Trott, Stephen S. (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Taylor, Timothy B. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0021-0001 | PC-CA-0021-9000
Vogel, Karin Dougan (California) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Foote, Timothy C. (California) show/hide docs
Lepkowsky, Darrell Lee (California) show/hide docs
Lungren, Daniel E. (California) show/hide docs
Shaw, Robert B. (California) show/hide docs
Williamson, George H. (California) show/hide docs

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