University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Robertson v. Holland PC-DC-0016
Docket / Court 9502-78 ( State Court )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 1978, inmates sentenced under the laws of the District of Columbia filed this class action lawsuit against the District of Columbia Department of Corrections in the District of Columbia Superior Court. The plaintiffs alleged that their rights had been violated when they were summarily and ... read more >
In 1978, inmates sentenced under the laws of the District of Columbia filed this class action lawsuit against the District of Columbia Department of Corrections in the District of Columbia Superior Court. The plaintiffs alleged that their rights had been violated when they were summarily and involuntarily transferred to institutions and facilities of the Federal Bureau of Prisons without a hearing.

A DC ordinance, DO 4810.1A, promulgated by the Council of the District of Columbia under the authority of D.C.Code Ann. ยง 24-442 (1981) provided:

Sentenced D.C.Code offenders in the following categories may be recommended by the Administrator for transfer to a BOP institution:
(1) Those who are severe management problems.
(2) Those whose lives are in jeopardy.
(3) Those who are protective custody cases because they have testified for the government, witnessed crimes in institutions or were former law enforcement officers.
(4) Those with commitment papers which indicate that the sentencing judge has recommended commitment to a BOP institution.
(5) Those who are known escape risks.
(6) Those who present a threat to the life of themselves or others.
(7) Individuals with severe psychological problems caused by distant separation from family and community ties.
DO 4810.1A-6(c).

In addition, the rule requires that an inmate be given an opportunity to state his objections to a proposed transfer for the record:
Upon receipt of notification that a DCDC resident is to be transferred to a BOP institution it shall be the responsibilities of the institution Administrator to ensure that the resident is afforded a hearing before a committee consisting of at least three institutional staff members and advised of the reason(s) for transfer. During the hearing the resident shall be afforded the opportunity to indicate any objections, and rationale for the same, regarding the transfer. Recorded minutes of the proceedings will be signed by the resident, members of the committee and filed in the resident's records jacket prior to transfer. Should a resident decline such a hearing, this too will be made a matter of record, signed by the resident and committee members (committee members will sign even if the resident refuses to do so), and filed in the resident's records jacket prior to transfer.
DO 4810.1A-6(c).

On September 20, 1982, the parties entered into a consent decree. According to the description in Trice v. Kerr, 578 F.Supp. 149 (1983), the decree required that D.C. offenders who had previously been transferred to the Federal system without a pre-transfer hearing receive such a hearing.

Kristen Sagar - 09/03/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Classification / placement
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) DC DOC
Plaintiff Description inmates sentenced under the laws of the District of Columbia who had been transferred to a federal BOP facility without a hearing.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 1982 - 1982
Case Closing Year 1982
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 ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
No documents currently in the collection
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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