University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Hixson v. Hope JI-CA-0014
Docket / Court CV 029154 ( State Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization Prison Law Office
Case Summary
On April 26, 2006, parents of a juvenile son incarcerated in the San Joaquin Juvenile Hall filed a complaint in the San Joaquin County, California, Superior Court, suing the county's chief probation officer and seeking to enjoin expenditure of public funds for alleged illegal conduct at the ... read more >
On April 26, 2006, parents of a juvenile son incarcerated in the San Joaquin Juvenile Hall filed a complaint in the San Joaquin County, California, Superior Court, suing the county's chief probation officer and seeking to enjoin expenditure of public funds for alleged illegal conduct at the juvenile hall. Private counsel and the Prison Law Office represented the plaintiff. Both were also involved as plaintiffs' counsel in similar California cases in this database, Farrell v. Harper (JI-CA-13), Porter v. Speirs (JI-CA-15), and Waters v. Woodford (JI-CA-16).

The complaint set out numerous categories in which the hall, as operated, allegedly failed to meet state statutory standards, including inadequate physical safety (e.g., excessive staff use of force and physical restraints, staff-promoted fights, abuse of vulnerable juveniles, homemade weapons, and gangs), living conditions far from statutorily-mandated "homelike conditions" (e.g., poor meals, overcrowding, uncomfortable temperatures, broken plumbing, gang graffiti, and filth), administrative segregation ("ad seg") deficiencies (e.g., lockdown-type conditions, absence of rehabilitative programs or educational opportunities, failure to provide required Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), limited clothing, excessive isolation, and due process violations), inadequate medical and mental health care, inadequate provision of rehabilitative or educational programs for non-ad seg wards, and deficient grievance procedures exacerbated by staff misconduct. Citing numerous provisions of the state's constitution and statutes, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, attorneys' fees and costs, and for the court to retain jurisdiction over the case until it found sufficient compliance by the defendant with remedial orders plaintiff sought.

The defendant filed a demurrer to the complaint and sought to have the court (Judge Bobby W. McNatt) strike portions of the pleading. This, however, was denied. After discovery, the parties agreed to a set of four experts who would investigate the hall to determine whether or not the plaintiffs' allegations of substandard conditions were true.

On June 18, 2008, the parties submitted a consent decree to the court. The agreement spanned a wide range of the issues contained in the initial complaint. As a result, the defendant agreed to more robust training of its staff; stronger enforcement of policies pertaining to adequate treatment of juveniles; and improvements in its facilities and services (e.g., food, medical, educational). Moreover, the defendant ended its administrative segregation program but kept less isolating alternative, the behavior management unit. The defendant further agreed to create a grievance procedure for the juveniles to voice concerns regarding their conditions. Through the consent decree, however, the defendant admitted no fault, and the parties disagreed as to whether some of the improvements at the hall occurred prior to or after the plaintiffs' investigation of the hall. Finally, the parties agreed to permit the plaintiffs to submit document requests and be notified of any policy changes at the hall for a two year period.

The Clearinghouse has been unable to obtain further information about the interim period. The parties stipulated to dismiss the entire action and to dissolve the consent decree on March 7, 2012.

Mike Fagan - 05/16/2008
Matthew Feng - 09/04/2021

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Administrative segregation
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Excessive force
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Grievance Procedures
Pepper/OC spray
Religious programs / policies
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Suicide prevention
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) San Joaquin County
Plaintiff Description Parents seeking to enjoin expenditure of funds to promulgate, administer, and enforce illegal policies, practices, and procedures in the San Joaquin County Juvenile Hall.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Prison Law Office
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Document/information produced
Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2008 - 2012
Filed 04/26/2006
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Court Docket(s)
State Trial Court
JI-CA-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
General Documents
State Trial Court
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief
JI-CA-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
State Trial Court
[Proposed] Consent Decree
JI-CA-0014-0004.pdf | Detail
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Judges Holland, Lesley D. Court not on record show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Chavez, Mark A. (California) show/hide docs
Kahn, Michael D. (California) show/hide docs
Keith, Traci M. (California) show/hide docs
Lee, Belinda S. (California) show/hide docs
Norman, Sara Linda (California) show/hide docs
Palamountain, Kathryn C. (California) show/hide docs
Park, Ju Y. (California) show/hide docs
Specter, Donald H. (California) show/hide docs
Ulmer, Richard Jr. (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0014-0001 | JI-CA-0014-0004
Wang, Philip J. (California) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Gutierrez, Gilberto (California) show/hide docs
Suntag, Dana A. (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0014-0004 | JI-CA-0014-9000

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