University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Title "Defendant Compliance In Public Law Litigation: A Case Study of Bullington v. Moreland"
Date Dec 9, 2004
Author Andrea Ebreck
Author Institution Washington University
Author Role Law Student
Paper [ PDF ]
Abstract The following case study of Bullington v. Moreland--No. 79-650-C(3), (E.D. Mo. Filed May 23, 1989, consent decree entered August 30, 1983)--analyzes the various factors that motivate defendants to comply with consent decrees in public law litigation. The body of the paper begins with a discussion of public law litigation, including how it differs from traditional litigation and the criticisms it has faced from the academy, courts and Congress. The author then moves to the specific facts of Bullington, using those facts to outline the multiple factors that motivate defendants to comply with consent decrees. The factors evaluated are the threat of court action, the fact that a consent decree often provides access to resources and provides for operational changes that improve the institution, and that jail administrators may maintain compliance because they believe that doing so will satisfy their legal obligations under the Constitution, even at facilities to which the decree does not apply. The case study of Bullington illustrates that motivations behind defendant compliance, such as leverage in obtaining resources, ensure that the policy goals articulated in the decree do not die with their monitors.


This Resource Relates To
case Johnson v. O'Brien and Bullington v. Moreland (JC-MO-0010)

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