University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Knop v. Johnson PC-MI-0006
Docket / Court G84-651 CA5 ( W.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On June 11, 1984, prisoners filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC). The plaintiff class consisted of inmates at the State Prison of Southern Michigan at ... read more >
On June 11, 1984, prisoners filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC). The plaintiff class consisted of inmates at the State Prison of Southern Michigan at Jackson, the Marquette Branch Prison, the Michigan Reformatory at Ionia, and the Riverside Correctional Facility. Plaintiffs alleged overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, racial discrimination and segregation, poor health services, lack of access to courts, and other violations. They were represented by the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and private counsel. On April 26, 1995, the parties entered into a consent decree appointing F. Warren Benton as monitor.

On February 27, 1987, the court (Judge Richard Alan Enslen) denied defendants' motions to dismiss. Knop v. Johnson, 655 F.Supp. 871 (W.D.Mich. 1987). Following a bench trial, on August 10, 1987, Judge Enslen found several conditions to be unconstitutional. Knop v. Johnson, 667 F.Supp. 467 (W.D.Mich. 1987). Unconstitutional conditions included the DOC's mail policy, lack of adequate winter clothing, inadequate toilet facilities, and inadequate law library resources. The court found that defendants did not engage in racial discrimination except with respect to racial harassment. The court directed the defendants to submit proposed plans to remedy these violations. On August 20, 1987, Judge Enslen entered an order denying defendants' motions for summary judgment and granting plaintiffs' motion for sanctions. Knop v. Johnson, 667 F.Supp. 512 (W.D.Mich. 1987). The court granted sanctions because it determined that defendants had filed motions with the intent to harass, delay, or increase the cost of litigation. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed an appeal of that decision on May 20, 1988. Knop v. Johnson, 848 F.2d 191 (6th Cir. 1988).

On March 7, 1988, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied defendants' motion to stay the district court's decision pending appeal. Knop v. Johnson, 841 F.2d 1126 (6th Cir. 1988). The district court held a hearing on remedial plans proposed by both parties and entered an order on May 5, 1988. Knop v. Johnson, 685 F.Supp. 636 (W.D.Mich. 1988) (full order is part of opinion). The order addressed the construction of new toilet facilities, mail policies, a grievance procedure regarding complaints of racially derogatory conduct by staff, and access to courts, including required materials in law libraries.

Plaintiffs filed a petition for attorneys' fees for their role as amicus curiae in United States v. Michigan (PC-MI-009). That was denied on December 6, 1988. Knop v. Johnson, 700 F.Supp. 1457 (W.D.Mich. 1988). On April 5, 1989, the matter came before the court again regarding plaintiffs request for attorneys' fees. Judge Enslen held that a reduction in the fee award for partial success on the race-related claims was warranted and that plaintiffs could not recover expert witness fees. Knop v. Johnson, 712 F.Supp. 571 (W.D.Mich. 1989). Judge Enslen held that attorneys' fees were reasonable otherwise and awarded them to plaintiffs.

On appeal, this case was consolidated with Hadix v. Johnson (PC-MI-0019), another class action lawsuit against the Michigan DOC. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed both cases with regard to the findings regarding access to courts. Knop v. Johnson, 977 F.2d 996 (6th Cir. 1992). The court (Judge David A. Nelson) held that the DOC's duty to provide assistance in gaining access to the courts included assisting with prisoners' challenges to their convictions and conditions of confinement. On March 8, 1993, The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. Knop v. McGinnis, 507 U.S. 973 (1993). On June 4, 1993, Judge Enslen ordered defendants to submit a plan for providing access to the courts consistent with this opinion. On December 22, 1994, Judge Enslen rejected defendants' plan. Litigation continued regarding discovery and attorneys fees. On October 1, 1996, the district court adopted the defendants' proposals in both of the consolidated cases for legal writer programs. Ultimately, the parties reached an agreement on access to the courts, and Judge Enslen, on March 6, 2002, ordered a dismissal of the plaintiffs' access to court claims in accordance with the parties' stipulation. There is no information available regarding the details of the stipulation. On May 2, 2002, Judge Enslen approved a stipulation regarding the DOC's mail policy, but there are no details available regarding this policy.

According to the docket, Judge Enslen dismissed the parties' legal mail claims on September 10, 2002. Although the details are not clear, the dismissal of these claims also entailed the dismissal of this portion of the consolidated case. The related case, Hadix (PC-MI-0019), closed in 2015.

Kristen Sagar - 12/03/2008

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Equal Protection
Crowding / caseload
Race discrimination
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Marquette Branch Prison
Michigan Reformatory
Riverside Correctional Facility
State Prison of Southern Michigan
Plaintiff Description Michigan Department of Corrections
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 Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1995 - 2002
Filing Year 1984
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-MI-0019 : Hadix v. Caruso (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0009 : United States v. Michigan (E.D. Mich.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  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
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 ]

1:84-cv-00651-RAE (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/21/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Motion for leave to amend the complaint
PC-MI-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/01/1985
First Amended Complaint
PC-MI-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/07/1985
Opinion (655 F.Supp. 871) (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/27/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (667 F.Supp. 467) (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/10/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (667 F.Supp. 512) (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/20/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Unpublished Disposition - Order (841 F.2d 1126)
PC-MI-0006-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/07/1988
Opinion (685 F.Supp. 636) (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/05/1988
Source: Google Scholar
Unpublished Disposition - Order (848 F.2d 191)
PC-MI-0006-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/20/1988
Opinion (700 F.Supp. 1457) (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/06/1988
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (712 F.Supp. 571) (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/05/1989
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (977 F.2d 996)
PC-MI-0006-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/16/1992
Source: Google Scholar
Ruling on Petition for Certiorari (507 U.S. 973)
PC-MI-0006-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/08/1993
Source: Westlaw
Order of Appointment of F. Warren Benton as Monitor (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/26/1995
Defendants [Proposed] Final Plan for the Legal Writers Program dated May 30, 1996
PC-MI-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/20/1996
Source: District Court
Order (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/01/1996
Source: District Court
Judges Engel, Albert Joseph (W.D. Mich., Sixth Circuit)
Enslen, Richard Alan (W.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0006-0003 | PC-MI-0006-0004 | PC-MI-0006-0005 | PC-MI-0006-0006 | PC-MI-0006-0007 | PC-MI-0006-0008 | PC-MI-0006-0009 | PC-MI-0006-0010 | PC-MI-0006-0012 | PC-MI-0006-9000
Jones, Nathaniel Raphael (Sixth Circuit)
Krupansky, Robert B. (Sixth Circuit, N.D. Ohio)
Merritt, Gilbert Stroud Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
Nelson, David Aldrich (Sixth Circuit)
Norris, Alan Eugene (Sixth Circuit)
Wellford, Harry Walker (Sixth Circuit, W.D. Tenn.)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aiyetoro, Adjoa A. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0006-0006 | PC-MI-0006-0007 | PC-MI-0006-0008 | PC-MI-0006-0009 | PC-MI-0006-0010 | PC-MI-0006-0012 | PC-MI-0006-9000
Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0006-0001 | PC-MI-0006-0002 | PC-MI-0006-0006 | PC-MI-0006-0007 | PC-MI-0006-0008 | PC-MI-0006-0009 | PC-MI-0006-0010 | PC-MI-0006-0011 | PC-MI-0006-0012 | PC-MI-0006-9000
Barnhart, Michael J. (Michigan)
Bennett, Larry W. (Michigan)
Chmara, Theresa A. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0006-0012 | PC-MI-0006-9000
Ennis, Bruce J. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0006-0012 | PC-MI-0006-9000
Fette, William L. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0006-0001 | PC-MI-0006-0002 | PC-MI-0006-0011 | PC-MI-0006-9000
Loeb, Thomas M. (Michigan)
Lopez, Mark J. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0006-0006 | PC-MI-0006-0012
Schneider, Mark D. (District of Columbia)
Streeter, Patricia A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0006-0007 | PC-MI-0006-0008 | PC-MI-0006-0009 | PC-MI-0006-0011 | PC-MI-0006-9000
Taifa-Caldwell, Nkechi (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0006-0007 | PC-MI-0006-0008 | PC-MI-0006-0009
Verrilli, Donald B. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PC-MI-0006-0012 | PC-MI-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Edick, David G. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0006-0007 | PC-MI-0006-0008 | PC-MI-0006-0009 | PC-MI-0006-0010
Friedman, Leo H. (Michigan)
Harris, Susan A. (Michigan)
Kelley, Frank J. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0006-0004 | PC-MI-0006-0009 | PC-MI-0006-0010 | PC-MI-0006-0011 | PC-MI-0006-0012
MacKenzie, Brian W. (Michigan)
McAra, Susanne Durk (Michigan)
McGehee, Donald S. (Michigan)
McKenzie, Brian (Michigan)
PC-MI-0006-0007 | PC-MI-0006-0008 | PC-MI-0006-0009 | PC-MI-0006-0010
Nelson, Thomas C. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0006-0006 | PC-MI-0006-0007 | PC-MI-0006-0008 | PC-MI-0006-0009 | PC-MI-0006-0009 | PC-MI-0006-0010 | PC-MI-0006-0010 | PC-MI-0006-0011 | PC-MI-0006-0011 | PC-MI-0006-0012 | PC-MI-0006-0012
Nickerson, Michael A. (Michigan)
Przekop-Shaw, Susan (Michigan)
Schmidt, Barbara A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0006-0011 | PC-MI-0006-9000
Shaw, Susan Przekop (Michigan)
PC-MI-0006-0004 | PC-MI-0006-0011
Simmons, Brent (Michigan)
PC-MI-0006-0011 | PC-MI-0006-0012
Other Lawyers Girard, Sandra (Michigan)
Tarnow, Arthur J. (Michigan)

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -