University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Spain v. Procunier PC-CA-0029
Docket / Court 73-1293 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On December 28, 1973, seven inmates at the Adjustment Center in the California State Prison in San Quentin, California filed a 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 asked ... read more >
On December 28, 1973, seven inmates at the Adjustment Center in the California State Prison in San Quentin, California filed a 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 asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated by the length and conditions of their confinement. In addition, they complained of interference with their visitation and mailing privileges, access to counsel, access to the courts, and access to the media, as well as inadequate medical care, lack of an adequate and wholesome diet, and other allegedly repressive measures to their physical and emotional detriment.

On February 10, 1976, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Judge Alfonso J. Zirpoli) enjoined the prison from using neck chains, holding that the prisoners had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of their constitutional rights. Specifically, the court held that the prisoners' rights had been violated by continuous segregation of prisoners 24 hours per day except for meager out of cell movements, denial of fresh air and regular outdoor exercise, unwarranted and cruel use of tear gas to remove prisoners from their cells, and excessive use of physical restraints. Spain v. Procunier, 408 F.Supp. 534 (N.D.Cal. 1976). The defendants appealed.

On June 15, 1979, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Anthony McLeod Kennedy) affirmed in part, reversing the district court's ruling that the use of mechanical restraints was unconstitutional and remanding the case back to the district court. Spain v. Procunier, 600 F.2d 189 (9th Cir. 1979).

Upon remand, the parties entered into a settlement, which included provision that the defendants would pay $70,000 in fees to the plaintiffs' attorneys. Shortly afterwards, the California Senate refused to appropriate the money to pay the fees. The Controller of the State of California appealed to the district court for orders adding certain State officials as party defendants and compelling them to pay the money. On March 10, 1981, the district court (Judge Zirpoli) added the necessary parties as defendants and ordered them to pay the funds with interest. The defendants appealed. On October 21, 1982, the Ninth Circuit (Judge Cecil F. Poole) affirmed the district court's order. Spain v. Mountanos, 690 F.2d 742 (9th Cir. 1982). We have no further information on the proceedings in this case.

Kristen Sagar - 09/09/2006
Megan Richardson - 07/18/2014

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Access to lawyers or judicial system
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Recreation / Exercise
Restraints : chemical
Restraints : physical
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) San Quentin Adjustment Center
Plaintiff Description Prison inmates alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement at state prison
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1979 - 1983
Case Closing Year 1983
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
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
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Links Cruel Confinement: Abuse, Discrimination and Death Within Alabama's Prisons
Written: Jun. 04, 2014
(Southern Poverty Law Center )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

C73-1293-AJZ (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0029-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/05/1984
Source: District Court
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion (408 F.Supp. 534) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0029-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/10/1976
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (600 F.2d 189)
PC-CA-0029-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/30/1979
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (690 F.2d 742)
PC-CA-0029-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/21/1982
Source: Google Scholar
Judges Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (Ninth Circuit, SCOTUS)
Poole, Cecil F. (Ninth Circuit, N.D. Cal.)
Zirpoli, Alfonso Joseph (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0029-0003 | PC-CA-0029-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Halvonik, Paul (California)
PC-CA-0029-0001 | PC-CA-0029-9000
Hiestand, Fred J (California)
PC-CA-0029-0002 | PC-CA-0029-0003 | PC-CA-0029-9000
Merin, Mark E. (California)
PC-CA-0029-0003 | PC-CA-0029-9000
Zane, Gordon (California)
PC-CA-0029-0001 | PC-CA-0029-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Svetcov, Sanford (California)
PC-CA-0029-0002 | PC-CA-0029-0003 | PC-CA-0029-9000
Younger, Evelle J. (California)
PC-CA-0029-0003 | PC-CA-0029-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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