University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Toussaint v. McCarthy / Wright v. Enonmoto PC-CA-0023
Docket / Court 73-1422 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection California's Prisoners' Rights Bar article
Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization MALDEF
Prison Law Office
Case Summary
In 1973, prisoners confined in administrative segregation in four California state prisons - San Quentin, Folsom, Dueul Vocational Institute at Tracy, and the Correctional Training Facility at Soledad - filed a class-action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the California Department of ... read more >
In 1973, prisoners confined in administrative segregation in four California state prisons - San Quentin, Folsom, Dueul Vocational Institute at Tracy, and the Correctional Training Facility at Soledad - filed a class-action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the California Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs sought relief on two claims: 1) that they had been placed in administrative segregation without any procedural examination of whether they should be there, and 2) that they had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment due to the poor conditions in which they were confined.

The administrative segregation claim was tried in a separate case called Wright v. Enomoto. In that lawsuit, a three-judge panel granted relief, finding that the plaintiffs' rights had been violated by a lack of due process when they were placed into administrative segregation. Wright v. Enomoto, 462 F.Supp. 397 (N.D.Cal. 1976). The defendants appealed this finding, and the Supreme Court affirmed it two years later. Wright v. Enomoto, 434 U.S. 1052 (1978).

This case involved the second claim for relief, in which the plaintiffs argued that their constitutional rights had been violated by poor conditions of confinement, including physical conditions, sanitation, food services, educational practices, medical services, placement and retention procedures, and the psychological impact of confinement in administrative segregation. On November 3, 1980, the District Court (Judge Stanley A. Weigel) granted a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs, finding that the totality of conditions at Deuel, San Quentin, and Soledad were unconstitutional. The Court did not find that any specific part of the prison was unconstitutional, but the Court felt that the conditions as a whole were not good enough. The defendants appealed. On March 13, 1981, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Joseph Tyree Sneed III) vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded the case for reconsideration. The Court found that the District Court had erred in its use of the "totality of conditions" approach, finding that only specific unconstitutional conditions may be remedied by the Eighth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit chided the District Court for trying to institute a prison reform program on its own under the guise of correcting cruel and unusual punishment. Wright v. Rushen, 642 F.2d 1129 (9th Cir. 1981).

On remand two years later, the District Court (Judge Weigel) re-issued the preliminary injunction, finding that specific conditions of confinement, including double-celling in small, window-less cells, inadequate lighting, heating, ventilation and plumbing, poor sanitation, inadequate food service, and inadequate medical care, were unconstitutional because they violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Toussaint v. Rushen, 553 F.Supp. 1366 (N.D.Cal. 1983).

The defendants appealed, and on January 5, 1984, the Ninth Circuit (Judge William Cameron Canby, Jr.) partially affirmed and partially vacated the District Court's issuance of the preliminary injunction, finding that the District Court's finding that double-celling engendered violence, tension, and psychiatric problems, as well as the finding that physical conditions of the cells were inadequate, were valid. The Ninth Circuit vacated the portion of the injunction specifying the types and quantities of food that the inmates must be provided was invalid and must be overturned. Toussaint v. Yockey, 722 F.2d 1490 (9th Cir. 1984).

On October 18, 1984, following a trial on the merits, the District Court held that the conditions of confinement were unconstitutional with respect to double-celling, heating, ventilation, lighting, noise, plumbing, food preparation and storage, access to courts, clothing, laundry, and bedding. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 597 F.Supp. 1388 (N.D.Cal. 1984). The defendants appealed.

On September 30, 1986, the Ninth Circuit (Judge Robert R. Beezer) partially affirmed and partially vacated the District Court's opinion, remanding it for reconsideration. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit held that 1) due process required only that prison officials hold an informal nonadversary hearing within a reasonable time after the prisoner is placed in segregation, inform him of the charges against him, and give him an opportunity to present his views, 2) that it was error for the District Court to substitute its views for those of the prison administrator in determining when a prisoner should be released, 3) that review of segregation should be conducted more frequently than annually, 4) that the decision to place a prisoner in segregated confinement must be supported by some evidence, 5) that complaints about medical care did not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation, and 6) that the denial of contact visits and work programs did not violate the Eighth Amendment. Toussaint v. McCarthy 801 F.2d 1080 (9th Cir. 1986). The parties sought Supreme Court review, and on May 26, 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. McCarthy v. Toussaint, 481 U.S. 1069 (1987).

On remand on April 20, 1989, the District Court (Judge Weigel) held that the review of indeterminate segregation decisions was required to occur every 90 days, that the defendants must undergo special procedures before placing inmates in indeterminate segregation, and that the defendants could not rely on polygraph examinations regarding gang affiliations as the basis for assigning prisoners to segregation. Toussaint v. Rowland, 711 F.Supp. 536 (N.D.Cal. 1989).

Both parties appealed, and on October 30, 1990, the Ninth Circuit (Judge John T. Noonan, Jr.) partially affirmed and partially reversed, holding that the continued appointment of a monitor to review decisions to assign inmates to segregation for administrative reasons was unwarranted. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 926 F.2d 800 (9th Cir. 1990). The parties sought Supreme Court review, and on October 7, 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 502 U.S. 874 (1991).

On June 29, 1992, the District Court (Stanley Weigel) entered a judgment that noted that the case was being "dismissed," but apparently continuing post-judgment monitoring. (We have only the docket sheet, not the order itself.) The state appealed this and other orders relating to fees, but the parties then agreed to dismissal of those appeals in July 1994. In January 1997, the parties jointly applied to vacate the injunctions and finally dismiss the case. The Court agreed, dismissing the case with prejudice on Feb. 13, 1997.

Kristen Sagar - 10/08/2007

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Crowding / caseload
Administrative segregation
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Disciplinary segregation
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Protective custody
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) California Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description prisoners confined in administrative segregation in four California state prisons – San Quentin, Folsom, Dueul Vocational Institute at Tracy, and the Correctional Training Facility at Soledad
Indexed Lawyer Organizations MALDEF
Prison Law Office
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1976 - 1997
Filing Year 1973
Case Closing Year 1997
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  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 ]

C-73-1422 SAW (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/25/1997
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgment (462 F.Supp. 397) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/30/1976
Source: Google Scholar
Memo Decision (434 U.S. 1052)
PC-CA-0023-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/21/1978
Opinion (642 F.2d 1129)
PC-CA-0023-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/12/1981
Source: Google Scholar
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on Granting Preliminary Injunction (553 F.Supp. 1365) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/14/1983
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (722 F.2d 1490)
PC-CA-0023-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/05/1984
Source: Google Scholar
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (597 F.Supp. 1388) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/18/1984
Source: Google Scholar
Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order on motion for adjudication of contempt (597 F.Supp. 1427) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/18/1984
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (801 F.2d 1080)
PC-CA-0023-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/30/1986
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (481 U.S. 1069)
PC-CA-0023-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/26/1987
Source: Westlaw
Order affirming magistrate's order on defendants' motion for recoupment of attorneys' fees (662 F.Supp. 1583) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/16/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Order (826 F.2d 901)
PC-CA-0023-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/29/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (849 F.2d 380)
PC-CA-0023-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/31/1988
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order (711 F.Supp. 536) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/20/1989
Source: Google Scholar
Order (909 F.2d 1489)
PC-CA-0023-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/06/1990
Opinion (918 F.2d 752)
PC-CA-0023-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/30/1990
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (926 F.2d 800)
PC-CA-0023-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/27/1991
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (502 U.S. 874)
PC-CA-0023-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/07/1991
Source: Westlaw
Judges Beezer, Robert R. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0012 | PC-CA-0023-0013
Brazil, Wayne D. (N.D. Cal.)
Canby, William Cameron Jr. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0013 | PC-CA-0023-0015
Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (Ninth Circuit, SCOTUS)
Kozinski, Alex (Ninth Circuit)
Noonan, John T. Jr. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002
Rea, William J. (C.D. Cal.)
Schroeder, Mary Murphy (Ninth Circuit)
Sneed, Joseph Tyree III (Ninth Circuit)
Weigel, Stanley Alexander (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Wright, Eugene Allen (Ninth Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Arriola, Anita P. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Asaro, Andrea G. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Baller, Morris J. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Bergesen, B. E. III (California)
Chambers, Julius LeVonne (New York)
PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Chavez, Mark A. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0013
Comiskey, Paul Wayne (California)
Fama, Steven (California)
Fiering, Susan S. (California)
Fins, Deborah (New York)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Flanagan, Sarah G. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Goldblatt, Ellen Sue (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Greenberg, Jack (New York)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Hernandez, Antonia (California)
PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Hulett, Denise M. (California)
Jones, Constance M. (California)
Lew, David (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006
Littlefield, Margaret (California)
Martinez, Vilma S. (California)
Miller, Samuel R. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Phillips, Barbara Y. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Resnick, Andrea (California)
Reynolds, Gary P. (California)
Rosen, Sanford Jay (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0004 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011 | PC-CA-0023-0012 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Satris, Michael H. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Smith, James F. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006
Specter, Donald H. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Sturdevant, James C. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Ternus, Frances (California)
Turner, William Bennett (California)
Wolinsky, Sidney M. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Zimmerman, Bernard S. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0003 | PC-CA-0023-0005 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0008 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Defendant's Lawyers Buzzell, C. Michael (California)
Cuneo, James B. (California)
Dove, Thomas P. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Gifford, Paul D. (California)
Lungren, Daniel E. (California)
Mayer, Karl S. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010
Murphy, John T. (California)
OReilley, Michael D. (California)
Prahl, William G. (California)
Prince, George D. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002
Rivlin, Catherine A. (California)
Siggins, Peter J. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Slavin, Bruce Michael (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0002 | PC-CA-0023-0009 | PC-CA-0023-0011 | PC-CA-0023-0013 | PC-CA-0023-9000
Stein, William D. (California)
Utz, Jerome C. (California)
Van de Kamp, John K. (California)
PC-CA-0023-0001 | PC-CA-0023-0006 | PC-CA-0023-0007 | PC-CA-0023-0010 | PC-CA-0023-0011
Williamson, George H. (California)
Younger, Evelle J. (California)

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -