An inmate at the Illinois Correctional Institution brought a pro se section 1983 suit against prison officials alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment rights. An attorney was appointed for the inmate, and the complaint was amended to seek relief for a class of all current and former inmates ...
read more >
An inmate at the Illinois Correctional Institution brought a pro se section 1983 suit against prison officials alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment rights. An attorney was appointed for the inmate, and the complaint was amended to seek relief for a class of all current and former inmates who had been subjected to the allegedly unlawful searches of their cells.
On April 22, 1977, the matter was settled with entry of a consent decree. The decree enjoined defendants to observe and enforce inmates' Fourth Amendment rights, to observe and enforce provisions of Administrative Regulation 401 of the Department of Corrections, and to provide each inmate whose cell had been searched the identity of the officer who conducted the search and a list of any seized items.
In this case, plaintiffs' attorney petitioned for an award of attorneys' fees in the Northern District of Illinois. Defendants contended that the plaintiff class was not a prevailing party under the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976 because the relief obtained was de minimus. In addition, the defendant argued that the court should use it's discretion to prevent funds for prisoner rehabilitation from being used for attorneys' fees, that the requested rate of compensation was too high, and that plaintiffs' counsel should not be compensated for work she did while affiliated with a large Chicago law firm.
The district court (Judge Marshall) held that the plaintiff class was the prevailing party despite no actual finding or admission by the defendants that inmates' Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. Likewise, the court held that the remedy was not de minimus, but a substantial protection of the inmates' Fourth Amendment rights. The court did exclude from its award hours plaintiffs' counsel worked while associated with a Chicago law firm whose practice was not to accept fee awards in similar cases, but found the remaining time devoted to the case while in private practice and the rate claimed to be reasonable. The final judgment was an award of $7,900.00 in attorneys fees and $183.21 in out-of-pocket expenses for a total of $8,083.21. Drew v. Brierton, 443 F.Supp 389 (N.D. Ill. 1978).
The docket for this case is not available on PACER, and therefore our information ends with the most recent court opinion, dated January 16, 1978.Sherrie Waldrup - 08/29/2005