On January 25, 1989, death row inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola (LSP) filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Louisiana Department of Corrections (LDOC) and LSP in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, Baton Rouge Division. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, Loyola Law School and the ACLU National Prison Project, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging violations of their Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that they were granted only limited access to and were denied direct access to a law library, were provided with inadequate legal assistance, were denied appointment of counsel and that visitation was subject to severe restrictions.
On February 8, 1990, the District Court (Judge Frank J. Polozola) referred the case to Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Riedlinger. On August 23, 1990, the Magistrate Court (Judge Riedlinger) denied the plaintiffs' motion for class action status, but further ordered that it would treat the case as in the nature of a class action.
The parties subsequently entered into settlement negotiations and in a joint motion, submitted an agreement to the court. On April 22, 1991, the Magistrate Court (Judge Riedlinger) approved the agreement as a consent decree. The consent decree provided for private and confidential legal visits, a greatly expanded legal assistance program, and implementation and oversight mechanisms including routine written progress reports. The Court retained jurisdiction to monitor progress with the agreement.
On October 5, 1995, the District Court (Judge Polozola) ordered a hearing to determine the defendants' compliance with the consent decree.
On May 28, 1997, the defendants filed a motion, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), to terminate the prospective relief provided by the consent decree. The plaintiffs responded by challenging the constitutionality of the PLRA. On August 15, 1997, the United States intervened as a defendant to support the constitutionality of the PLRA. On August 18, 1997, the District Court (Judge Polozola) granted the government's motion to intervene.
After the Ninth Circuit decided Taylor v. United States, 143 F.3d 1178 (9th Cir. 1998), and each of the parties took notice, the government filed a supplemental memorandum supporting the constitutionality of the PLRA.
On August 31, 2000, the Magistrate Court (Judge Riedlinger) filed a report and recommendation with the District Court. The Magistrate Court recommended that the District Court terminate the consent decree, but limit the termination to the prospective relief.
On September 18, 2000, the District Court (Judge Polozola), having accepted the finding of the Magistrate, granted the defendants' motion to terminate the prospective relief provided by the consent decree.
We have no further information on this case.Josh Altman - 09/23/2006