In 1978, prisoners at the Washington State Reformatory filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Washington Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by overcrowding and double celling at the jail.
On January 19, 1981, the parties submitted a proposed consent decree, which provided for eventual reduction of the prison's population, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Judge Donald Voorhees). On February 6, 1981, the state discovered an error in the typed body of the consent decree, finding that the plaintiffs' copy listed March 1, 1981 as the target date and the defendants' copy listed April 1, 1981 as the target date. On March 4, due to this discrepancy, the court (Judge Voorhees) denied approval of the consent decree, finding that there had been no meeting of minds between the parties.
On May 15, 1981, the plaintiffs filed a Notice of Acceptance of Offer of Settlement in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, stating that they accepted the offer of settlement embodied in the copy of the consent decree that the defendants had submitted to the court. On August 17, 1981, the court (Judge Voorhees) entered the consent decree. The defendant's appealed the entry of the decree.
On June 8, 1982, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Otto Skopil) affirmed the district court's entry of the consent decree. Collins v. Thompson, 679 F.2d 168 (9th Cir. 1982). On September 18, 1989, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order awarding costs and attorneys' fees to the plaintiffs. Collins v. Thompson, 1989 WL 112427 (9th Cir.(Wash.) Sept. 18, 1989).
By 1987, the defendants had achieved the consent decree's final reduction goal of 656 inmates at the prison. Shortly thereafter, the defendants began a renovation project which involved closing half of the cells at the prison. The prisoners were granted a temporary modification of the consent decree, reducing the prisoner population to 348, which reflected the number of cells available during the renovation. In 1989, the defendants appealed the temporary population reduction order and asked the court to dissolve the consent decree. In July 1989, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled that it had no jurisdiction to hear the motion to dismiss while the defendant's appeal of the modification was pending. The defendants subsequently withdrew its appeal so that jurisdiction would again vest in the district court.
In February 1990, the defendants filed a second motion to vacate the consent decree. On November 28, 1990, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Judge Barbara Rothstein) denied the defendants' request. The defendants appealed the denial. On August 4, 1992, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Eugene Wright, Judge David Thompson, and Judge Thomas Nelson) reversed the district court's decision and ordered the district court to enter final judgment in the case. Collins v. Thompson, 1992 WL 184328 (9th Cir.(Wash.) Aug. 4, 1992). The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Judge Rothstein) vacated the consent decree and terminated the court's jurisdiction in the case. The plaintiffs appealed.
On October 25, 1993, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Eugene Wright) affirmed the district court's vacation of the consent decree and termination of the case. Collins v. Thompson, 8 F.3d 657 (9th Cir. 1993). The plaintiffs appealed.
On May 31, 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs' petition for writ of certiorari. Collins v. Thompson, 511 U.S. 1127 (1994).Kristen Sagar - 04/12/2006