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Case Name Gomez v. Vernon PC-ID-0003
Docket / Court 91-299 ( D. Idaho )
State/Territory Idaho
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On June 21, 1991, inmates, represented by the ACLU National Prison Project, filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU National Prison Project, sued the Idaho State Correctional Institution and the Idaho Maximum ... read more >
On June 21, 1991, inmates, represented by the ACLU National Prison Project, filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU National Prison Project, sued the Idaho State Correctional Institution and the Idaho Maximum Security Institution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They alleged retaliation for exercise of their rights to court access and an inadequate law library.

The district court (Judge Larry M. Boyle) held that the fact questions precluded summary judgment and that notice to prisoners of the action was not required. Gomez v. Vernon, 962 F. Supp. 1296 (D. Idaho 1997). The court, after a nineteen-day bench trial, found in favor of the inmates on March 22, 1999. Subsequently, on July 16, 1999, the defendants submitted a proposed remedial plan pursuant to the court's order of June 17, 1999. The plaintiffs filed their objections to this plan on July 27, 1999.

The court, however, declined to adopt either plan. In its amended judgment of August 17, 1999, the court granted a declaratory judgment that the inmates were subjected to instances of unlawful retaliation but denied class-wide prospective injunctive relief. The court granted individual injunctive relief to six specified inmates, to prevent the defendants from transferring or moving those inmates in retaliation for exercising their constitutional rights. After a post-trial hearing, the court awarded $4,500 in sanctions (for attorneys fees, costs, and expenses) against the defendants for violating the defendants' attorney-client privilege in authorizing and encouraging prison employees to obtain confidential documents from the defendants.

The defendants appealed the judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Docket No. 99-35930) on September 16, 1999, challenging (1) jurisdiction of the magistrate judge, (2) the appropriateness of the injunctive relief, and (3) the court's ability to impose sanctions under 28 USC §1927. On July 10, 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge M. Margaret McKeown) affirmed the district court's ruling, holding that: (1) officials had a policy of retaliating against inmates who exercised their rights to court access, (2) the district court's order granting relief was appropriately tailored, and (3) imposition of sanctions was warranted. Gomez v. Vernon, 255 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2001).

The parties litigated over attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses for several years. On August 7, 2008, $82,301.84 were awarded but reserved the issues of fees for one of the attorneys and fees for the litigation of the attorneys' fees for later. On March 9, 2009, the court awarded an additional $19,849.82 in attorneys' fees. Overall a total of $102,151.66 in attorney's fees were awarded.

David Terry - 04/25/2006
David Smellie - 03/30/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Recordkeeping
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Confidentiality
Grievance Procedures
Library (non-law) access
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Idaho State Correctional Institution
Plaintiff Description Inmates at the the Idaho State Correctional Institution and the Idaho Maximum Security Institution
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1999 - n/a
Filing Year 1991
Case Closing Year 2012
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
Book
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 ]

Docket(s)
91-0299 (D. Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Decision and Order (962 F.Supp. 1296) (D. Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/26/1997
Source: Google Scholar
Judgment (D. Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/22/1999
Order (D. Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/17/1999
Proposed Remedial Plan Relative to Inmates Wayne Nelson Olds, Lee Mazur Hays and Robert Richard Jones
PC-ID-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/16/1999
Plaintiffs' Objections to Defendants' Proposed Remedial Plan
PC-ID-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/1999
Amended Judgment (D. Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/17/1999
Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Memorandum Decision and Order Relating to Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions (D. Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/13/1999
Opinion (255 F.3d 1118)
PC-ID-0003-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/10/2001
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision and Order Re: Attorney's Fees and Costs [ECF# 849] (D. Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/07/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 855] (D. Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/09/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Boyle, Larry M. (D. Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0001 | PC-ID-0003-0002 | PC-ID-0003-0005 | PC-ID-0003-0006 | PC-ID-0003-0007 | PC-ID-0003-0008 | PC-ID-0003-0009 | PC-ID-0003-0010 | PC-ID-0003-9000
Gould, Ronald Murray (Ninth Circuit)
PC-ID-0003-0007
McKeown, M. Margaret (Ninth Circuit)
PC-ID-0003-0007
Wardlaw, Kim McLane (Ninth Circuit, C.D. Cal.)
PC-ID-0003-0007
Plaintiff's Lawyers Balaban, Eric G. (District of Columbia)
PC-ID-0003-0004 | PC-ID-0003-0007 | PC-ID-0003-9000
Belodoff, Howard A. (Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0001 | PC-ID-0003-0002 | PC-ID-0003-0004 | PC-ID-0003-0005 | PC-ID-0003-0006 | PC-ID-0003-0007 | PC-ID-0003-0008 | PC-ID-0003-9000
Lee, Donna Hae Kyun (District of Columbia)
PC-ID-0003-0004 | PC-ID-0003-0007 | PC-ID-0003-9000
McDevitt, Charles F. (Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-9000
Pevar, Stephen L. (Colorado)
PC-ID-0003-0001 | PC-ID-0003-0002 | PC-ID-0003-0004 | PC-ID-0003-0005 | PC-ID-0003-0006 | PC-ID-0003-0007 | PC-ID-0003-0008 | PC-ID-0003-9000
Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia)
PC-ID-0003-0004 | PC-ID-0003-0005 | PC-ID-0003-0006 | PC-ID-0003-0007 | PC-ID-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Altig, Stephanie A. (Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0001 | PC-ID-0003-0002 | PC-ID-0003-0003 | PC-ID-0003-0004 | PC-ID-0003-0008 | PC-ID-0003-9000
Blackburn, Rex (Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0002 | PC-ID-0003-0005 | PC-ID-0003-0006 | PC-ID-0003-9000
Lance, Alan G. (Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0003
McNeese, Timothy R. (Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0003
Panther, Paul R. (Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0003 | PC-ID-0003-0005 | PC-ID-0003-0006 | PC-ID-0003-9000
Wilson, Timothy D. (Idaho)
PC-ID-0003-0007

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