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Case Name Johnson v. Wathen PC-TX-0008
Docket / Court 7:02-cv-00087 ( N.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On April 18, 2002, inmate Roderick Johnson filed an extensive complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, alleging that Texas prison officials failed to protect him from repeated sexual assault and therefore violated his rights under the Eighth ... read more >
On April 18, 2002, inmate Roderick Johnson filed an extensive complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, alleging that Texas prison officials failed to protect him from repeated sexual assault and therefore violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause. Johnson brought separate Equal Protection claims for failure to protect because of his race and because of his sexual orientation.

Johnson, a black homosexual, claimed that prison officials failed to protect him from prison gangs that repeatedly raped him and bought and sold him as a sexual slave while he was housed at the Texas prison system's Allred Unit. Plaintiff Johnson was represented by the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several private attorneys.

The defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings and for summary judgment, asserting qualified immunity and a failure on the prisoner's part to exhaust administrative remedies. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Judge Jerry Buchmeyer) in April, 2003, denied the defendants' motions, and the defendants brought interlocutory appeals. Johnson v. Johnson, No. 02-87, 2003 U.S. Dist. WL 21510816 (N.D.Tex. June 9, 2003).

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Johnson's race-based Equal Protection claims and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings on the remaining claims. Johnson v. Johnson, 385 F.3d 503 (5th Cir. 2004). The Court of Appeals noted that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, requires that a prisoner exhaust administrative remedies available within the correctional facility before bringing suit under Section 1983 regarding prison conditions. The Court held that Johnson had exhausted the available administrative remedies for his Eighth Amendment claims. The Court also found that Johnson had exhausted remedies for some of his Equal Protection sexual orientation claims because his grievances were sufficient to give prison officials fair notice that there might have been a sexual-orientation-related aspect to Johnson's problems. The Court further held that certain defendant prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity because they did not reasonably respond to Johnson's grievances and their conduct was clearly illegal.

On remand before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the case was reassigned to Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn on January 3, 2005, and on March 22, 2005, the case caption was modified to Johnson v. Wathen to reflect the dismissal of several defendants.

On September 8, 2005, Judge Lynn granted plaintiff Johnson's petition for writs of habeas corpus. The case was tried before a jury which rendered a verdict in favor of the defendants on each of Johnson's claims on October 18, 2005. There was some subsequent litigation over attorney's fees. In January 2006, the court ordered costs against the plaintiff.

On May 23, 2012, the plaintiff moved for the court to grant him a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. The plaintiff filed the motion pro se (on his own behalf). The plaintiff was released from prison and placed on parole in 2003, but he returned to prison in the fall of 2007. The plaintiff alleges that on September 11, 2007, the ACLU contacted the Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice requesting that the plaintiff be placed in “safe keeping” because he was at extreme physical risk. The plaintiff alleges that he was subsequently placed in temporary “safekeeping”. In October 2007, the plaintiff alleges that he was transferred to the New Mexico Department of Corrections under the Interstate Corrections Compact due to concerns for his safety. The plaintiff alleges that on August 9, 2011, he was involuntarily returned back into the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The plaintiff alleged that immediately upon arrival in Texas he was placed in solitary confinement under punitive conditions. The plaintiff alleged that he was in constant fear that prison officials would follow through with their threats to have him killed in retaliation for his petitioning for the redress of his grievances administratively and through the courts. The plaintiff also alleged that prison officials were being deliberately indifferent to the serious mental health risks posed by the conditions of isolation he was being kept in. The plaintiff alleged his treatment was retaliation for his prior suit against the Texas prison system. He alleged he had filed over 25 administrative grievances with the prison in regard to his treatment. The plaintiff alleged that the publicity surrounding his case will not ensure his safety in the Texas prison system. The plaintiff requested to serve the rest of his sentence in another jurisdiction.

On June 4, 2012, Magistrate Judge Paul D. Stickney was added to the case. On June 4, 2012, the plaintiff moved for the court to appoint him counsel. On August 12, 2012, Judge Stickney ordered a new case to be opened in regard to the plaintiff’s current claims. This new case was 7:12-cv-00138. On September 11, 2012, the case was transferred to the Southern District of Texas. This new case was 4:12-cv-02728. The following dockets have been consolidated with this case: 7:12-cv-00138 (the Northern District of Texas), 4:12-cv-02728 (the Southern District of Texas).

The case was assigned to Judge Sim Lake. On October 4, 2012, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Within his amended complaint, he reiterated his allegations from his May 23, 2012 motion. On February 21, 2013, the defendants moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim. On July 22, 2013, Judge Slim granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case for the plaintiff’s failure to state a claim. The case was dismissed with prejudice. (2013 WL 3816727).

On August 23, 2013, the plaintiff appealed the dismissal of the case to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On October 1, 2014, Judge W. Eugene Davis, Judge Edith Brown Clement, and Judge Gregg J. Costa affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case. (WL 4854212) This case is closed.

Tom Madison - 02/11/2006
Victoria Fiengo - 10/22/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Administrative segregation
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Protective custody
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
State Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Texas DCJ
Plaintiff Description Black homosexual former Texas prisoner alleging that the failure to protect him from repeated sexual assault over an 18-month period violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment and the equal protection clause
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2002
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  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
Book
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 ]

Docket(s)
02-00087 (N.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
7:12-cv-00138-O (N.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/12/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
13-20475 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
PC-TX-0008-9003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/06/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
4:12-cv-02728 (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-9002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/11/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Prison Offender Grievance Forms
PC-TX-0008-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/2001
Complaint
PC-TX-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/01/2002
Press Release
PC-TX-0008-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2002
Offender Protection Investigation Form
PC-TX-0008-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/13/2002
Order Certifying Issue of Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies for Interlocutory Appeal (2003 WL 21510816) (N.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/09/2003
Circuit Court Brief of Plaintiff Appellee
PC-TX-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/29/2003
Untitled
PC-TX-0008-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/2004
Opinion (385 F.3d 503)
PC-TX-0008-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/08/2004
Source: Google Scholar
Untitled
PC-TX-0008-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/09/2004
Untitled
PC-TX-0008-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/16/2005
Press Release
PC-TX-0008-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/19/2005
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 379]
PC-TX-0008-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/23/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 380]
PC-TX-0008-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/23/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 389] (N.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Transferring Case [ECF# 13] (N.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/11/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint [ECF# 18]
PC-TX-0008-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/04/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 60] (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/22/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment [ECF# 61] (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/22/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas [Ct. of App. ECF# 00512789676]
PC-TX-0008-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/01/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Fish, Allen Joe (N.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-0011
Frost, E. Scott Court not on record [Magistrate]
PC-TX-0008-0015
Justice, William Wayne (E.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-0005
King, Carolyn Dineen (Fifth Circuit)
PC-TX-0008-0010
Lake, Simeon Timothy III (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-0017 | PC-TX-0008-0018 | PC-TX-0008-9002 | PC-TX-0008-9003
Lynn, Barbara M. (N.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-9000
O'Connor, Reed Charles (N.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0008-9001
Stickney, Paul D. (N.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
PC-TX-0008-0014
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cowie, Craig (District of Columbia)
PC-TX-0008-0001 | PC-TX-0008-0010 | PC-TX-0008-9000
Fettig, Amy (District of Columbia)
PC-TX-0008-0002 | PC-TX-0008-0010 | PC-TX-0008-9000
Hoffman, Timothy L. (Texas)
PC-TX-0008-9000
Monks, Jeffrey (District of Columbia)
PC-TX-0008-9000
Tuddenham, Edward John (Texas)
PC-TX-0008-0001 | PC-TX-0008-0002 | PC-TX-0008-0010 | PC-TX-0008-9000
Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia)
PC-TX-0008-0001 | PC-TX-0008-0002 | PC-TX-0008-0006 | PC-TX-0008-0007 | PC-TX-0008-0008 | PC-TX-0008-0009 | PC-TX-0008-0010 | PC-TX-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cunniff, Celamine (Texas)
PC-TX-0008-0002 | PC-TX-0008-0010 | PC-TX-0008-9000 | PC-TX-0008-9002 | PC-TX-0008-9003
Harris, David A. (Texas)
PC-TX-0008-9000
Tepper, Matthew (Texas)
PC-TX-0008-0010 | PC-TX-0008-9000
Wike, Christopher Champion (Texas)
PC-TX-0008-9000
Other Lawyers Brocato, Anthony Gerard Jr. (Texas)
PC-TX-0008-9000
Linz, Michael F. (Texas)
PC-TX-0008-9000
Rountree, Meredith (Texas)
PC-TX-0008-9000

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