University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Groseclose v. Dutton PC-TN-0003
Docket / Court 84-579 ( M.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On June 6, 1984, a petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed by third parties on behalf of Ronald Harries who was confined to Unit IV of the Tennessee State Penitentiary. William Groseclose and others brought the case on Harries' behalf after he refused to appeal his death sentence due to the ... read more >
On June 6, 1984, a petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed by third parties on behalf of Ronald Harries who was confined to Unit IV of the Tennessee State Penitentiary. William Groseclose and others brought the case on Harries' behalf after he refused to appeal his death sentence due to the adverse conditions of his confinement. An order staying Harries' execution was granted. Groseclose v. Dutton, 589 F.Supp. 362 (M.D. Tenn. 1984). A subsequent order denied defendants motion to dismiss and continued the stay. Groseclose v. Dutton, 594 F.Supp. 949 (M.D. Tenn. 1984).

Plaintiffs also alleged civil rights violations regarding the conditions of Unit IV. Plaintiffs were represented by private council. On November 13, 1984, a class was certified composed of those persons on death row and future inmates who would be confined in Unit IV under sentence of death. The class also included the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. The court bifurcated the habeas corpus claim and the civil rights claim concerning the prison conditions. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court (Judge John T. Nixon) declared the prison conditions on Unit IV (death row) to be unconstitutional and ordered the defendant to submit a good faith remedial plan to correct the conditions. Groseclose v. Dutton, 609 F.Supp. 1432 (M.D. Tenn. 1985). Among the court's concerns with the prison were the small size of the cells, insect infestation, absence of fire drills, insufficient human interaction, and the lack of opportunity for religious services.

An appeal by the defendant was dismissed on April 14, 1986 by the Court of Appeals because the district court's order was not an appealable final judgment. Groseclose v. Dutton, 788 F.2d 356 (6th Cir. 1986). The case was re-heard by the Court of Appeals en banc on November 3, 1987 after a master plan was accepted by the district court and a special master was appointed to monitor its implementation. The court (Judge David A. Nelson) vacated the judgment of the district court. Groseclose v. Dutton, 829 F.2d 581 (6th Cir. 1987). The court concluded that the case should have been consolidated with a pending class action lawsuit involving the constitutionality of conditions throughout the Tennessee prison system. (Grubbs v. Bradley, 552 F.Supp.1052 (M.D. Tenn. 1982)). (PC-TN-007) Second, it concluded that the district court had applied an incorrect legal standard in determining whether prison conditions violated the Eight Amendment. On May 11, 1988, the case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings after a settlement was reached by the parties. Groseclose v. Dutton, 848 F.2d 190 (6th Cir. 1988). The order approving the settlement provides no details or specifics of the settlement.

Subsequent litigation concerning Harries' mental capacity and psychiatric treatment continued for several years. On October 22, 1999, Groseclose was deleted as a party to the action and his name was deleted from all future pleadings. On August 23, 2002, Judge John T. Nixon vacated Harries' death sentence and remanded the case to the State of Tennessee for further proceedings.

Angela Heverling - 02/06/2006

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Crowding / caseload
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Classification / placement
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Tennessee Department of Corrections
Tennessee State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description Death sentenced inmates confined to Unit VI of Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 1984
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

84-579 (M.D. Tenn.)
PC-TN-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/21/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order (589 F.Supp. 362) (M.D. Tenn.)
PC-TN-0003-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/08/1984
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order (594 F.Supp. 949) (M.D. Tenn.)
PC-TN-0003-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/17/1984
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum (609 F.Supp. 1432) (M.D. Tenn.)
PC-TN-0003-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/24/1985
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (788 F.2d 356)
PC-TN-0003-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/14/1986
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (829 F.2d 581)
PC-TN-0003-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/03/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Order, Unpublished Disposition (848 F.2d 190)
PC-TN-0003-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/11/1988
Judges Guy, Ralph B. Jr. (FISCR, E.D. Mich., Sixth Circuit)
Kennedy, Cornelia Groefsema (E.D. Mich., Sixth Circuit)
Krupansky, Robert B. (N.D. Ohio, Sixth Circuit)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0003
Merritt, Gilbert Stroud Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
Nelson, David Aldrich (Sixth Circuit)
Nixon, John Trice (M.D. Tenn.)
PC-TN-0003-0002 | PC-TN-0003-0004 | PC-TN-0003-0005 | PC-TN-0003-9000
Peck, John Weld II (S.D. Ohio, Sixth Circuit)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0006
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alliman, Peter (Tennessee)
Hardin, Hal D. (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0002 | PC-TN-0003-0003 | PC-TN-0003-0004 | PC-TN-0003-0005 | PC-TN-0003-9000
Heil, Peter D. (Tennessee)
MacLean, Bradley Alan (Tennessee)
Marett, William J. Jr. (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0002 | PC-TN-0003-0005
Minton, Christopher M. (Tennessee)
Passino, Michael James (Tennessee)
Redick, William P. Jr. (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0002 | PC-TN-0003-0005 | PC-TN-0003-9000
Venick, Irwin Bruce (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0002 | PC-TN-0003-9000
Woods, Larry D. (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0002 | PC-TN-0003-0003 | PC-TN-0003-0004 | PC-TN-0003-0005 | PC-TN-0003-9000
Woods, Jinx S. (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0002 | PC-TN-0003-0004 | PC-TN-0003-0005 | PC-TN-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cody, W.J. Michael (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0003
Grunow, Robert (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0002 | PC-TN-0003-0005
Hoyal, J. Andrew II (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0003
Leech, William M. Jr. (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0002 | PC-TN-0003-0005
Lustre, Alice B. (Tennessee)
McGee, Richard (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0005 | PC-TN-0003-9000
Mitchell, Robin J. (Tennessee)
Southworth, John F. Jr. (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0002
Uhl, Wayne Elliott (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0003-0001 | PC-TN-0003-0003 | PC-TN-0003-0004 | PC-TN-0003-0005 | PC-TN-0003-9000
Other Lawyers Berger, Joel (New York)

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -