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Case Name Lamar v. Coffield PC-TX-0002
Docket / Court 72-1393 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Two inmates of the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) filed a pro se lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on October 17, 1972, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343, alleging race discrimination and unfair segregation practices. On November 6, 197 ... read more >
Two inmates of the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) filed a pro se lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on October 17, 1972, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343, alleging race discrimination and unfair segregation practices. On November 6, 1972, eight Spanish-speaking inmates moved to intervene, and the District Court granted their request on January 6, 1973. The United States Attorney General certified the case to be of general public importance pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000h-2 (part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), and the United States' motion to intervene was granted on July 6, 1973. Thereafter, eight other inmates' requests to intervene were granted.

The Court certified the case as a class action, consisting of all past, present, and future inmates of TDC. The plaintiffs alleged racial or ethnic discrimination, particularly in assignment to various prison units, living quarters, work squads; in disciplinary procedures; in selection for educational programs; in providing medical care, protection from harm in the prison units, recreational facilities, dining, showering, and other group activities; and in the use of racial and ethnic slurs by the staff. The United States, as intervenor, sought to enjoin TDC from assigning inmates to cells based on race, color, religion, or national origin; from segregating the prison facilities; from failing to implement a standard of prisoner classification not related to race; and from failing to correct and erase the effects of past discriminatory practices.

The parties entered into a consent decree, which the court approved on April 12, 1977. The decree stated that the TDC should implement an affirmative action plan, designed to prevent the use of ethnicity and race for inmate housing assignments, job assignments, discipline, education, medical care, recreational activities. Additionally, the TDC was to take measures to assure its staff did not use racial epithets and did not punish inmates for speaking Spanish.

Over the years, a series of hearings were held about compliance and modification. The court discontinued the state's duty to make routine reports of in-cell integration. In 1996, inmates who did not wish to share cells with inmates of another race sought to intervene in the case and modify the decree. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Judge Lynn Nettleton Hughes) declined to allow these plaintiffs to intervene. Lamar v. Coffield, 951 F. Supp. 629 (S.D.Tex. 1996).

On April 8, 2008 the consent decree was terminated. An emergency motion to implement a filed permanent injunction/temporary restraining order was later denied.

David Terry - 04/10/2006
Tania Morris Diaz - 10/31/2014

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Race discrimination
Administrative segregation
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Racial segregation
Recreation / Exercise
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Texas Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description all past, present, and future inmates of the Texas Department of Corrections
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1977 - 1996
Filing Year 1972
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Additional Resources
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  First Available Cell: Desegregation of the Texas Prison System
Date: Oct. 1, 2009
By: Chad R. Trulson and James W. Marquart (University of North Texas in Denton, University of Texas at Dallas Faculty)
Citation: (University of Texas Press 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  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 ]

4:72-cv-01393 (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/24/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
72−cv−01393 (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0002-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/27/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum & Order (353 F.Supp. 1081) (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0002-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/05/1972
Source: Westlaw
Consent Decree (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/12/1977
Opinion (951 F.Supp. 629) (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0002-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/16/1996
Source: Westlaw
Opinion [Dismissing Appeal] (124 F.3d 192)
PC-TX-0002-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/12/1997
Source: Westlaw
USCA Opinion (218 F.3d 744)
PC-TX-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/02/2000
Judges Benavides, Fortunato Pedro (Fifth Circuit)
Bue, Carl Olaf Jr. (S.D. Tex.)
Hughes, Lynn Nettleton (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0002-0003 | PC-TX-0002-9000 | PC-TX-0002-9001
Jolly, E. Grady (Fifth Circuit)
Parker, Robert Manley (E.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Birnberg, Gerald M. (Texas)
PC-TX-0002-0003 | PC-TX-0002-9000 | PC-TX-0002-9001
Bowman, Robert C. (District of Columbia)
PC-TX-0002-0003 | PC-TX-0002-9000
Littlefield, Patricia Gail (District of Columbia)
Lopez, David T. (Texas)
PC-TX-0002-9000 | PC-TX-0002-9001
Ory, Charles (District of Columbia)
Padgett, Thomas H. Jr. (Texas)
PC-TX-0002-9000 | PC-TX-0002-9001
Vanderhoof, David J.W. (District of Columbia)
Defendant's Lawyers Caldwell, Garnett Ernest (Texas)
PC-TX-0002-9000 | PC-TX-0002-9001
Felfe, Sharon (Texas)
PC-TX-0002-0003 | PC-TX-0002-9000 | PC-TX-0002-9001
Idar, Ed Lee Jr. (Texas)
Walsh, Harry H. III (Texas)

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