Case: Crain v. Bordenkircher

No. 17176 | West Virginia state supreme court

Filed Date: 1981

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 1981, a prisoner at the West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville (WVP) filed a habeas corpus petition against the Warden and Commissioner of the Department of Corrections (DOC) in the Circuit Court of Marshall County. Similar petitions by other WVP inmates were consolidated and the action proceeded as a class action. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, asked the court for habeas, declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that con…

In 1981, a prisoner at the West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville (WVP) filed a habeas corpus petition against the Warden and Commissioner of the Department of Corrections (DOC) in the Circuit Court of Marshall County. Similar petitions by other WVP inmates were consolidated and the action proceeded as a class action. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, asked the court for habeas, declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that conditions of confinement violated state law and were unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment.

After a trial in February 1982, the parties apparently negotiated a consent decree. On June 21, 1983, the Circuit Court (Judge Recht) issued an order detailing numerous deficiencies rendering conditions of confinement in DOC facilities unconstitutional, ordered DOC to submit a plan to remedy those various deficiencies and incorporated the consent decree as part of its order. Judge Recht subsequently resigned from the bench and was replaced by Special Judge John F. Bronson. On September 1, 1984, Judge Bronson approved DOC's compliance plan and the plaintiffs appealed.

On March 27, 1986, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (Justice Thomas Miller) remanded the case. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 342 S.E.2d 422 (W. Va. 1986). The Court held that, while the compliance plan was adequate with regard to food service and facilities, DOC had to change provisions respecting medical services, access to the prison library, administrative segregation, and cell space.

The Circuit Court (Judge Bronson) subsequently appointed a nationally recognized penologist as a Special Master, leading to a dispute about whether the Supreme Court of Appeals or DOC would pay for the monitor. On May 29, 1987, the Supreme Court of Appeals (Justice Warren McGraw) decided that the DOC would pay. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 357 S.E.2d 778 (W. Va. 1987).

DOC further balked at a provision in the compliance plan that required construction of a new prison at Mount Olive. In a series of decisions, the Supreme Court of Appeals (Justice William T. Brotherton, Jr.) threatened the DOC with a receivership funded under a writ of mandamus, ordered DOC to submit architectural and financing plans for the new facility, and having received a positive status report, found the state was progressing as it should to complete construction by July 1, 1992. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 376 S.E.2d 140 (W. Va. 1988); Crain v. Bordenkircher, 382 S.E.2d 68 (W. Va. 1989); Crain v. Bordenkircher, 392 S.E.2d 227 (W. Va. 1990); Crain v. Bordenkircher, 408 S.E.2d 255 (W. Va. 1991).

On June 25, 1992, the Supreme Court of Appeals (Justice Richard Neely), acknowledging delays in construction and a need for the orderly transfer of inmates to the new facility, granted a writ modifying its closure order to allow DOC more time. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 420 S.E.2d 732 (W. Va. 1992); Crain v. Bordenkircher, 424 S.E.2d 751 (W. Va. 1992).

With respect to remaining disputes concerning various prison policies, on July 16, 1993, the Supreme Court of Appeals (per curiam) granted the defendants' motion to submit their remaining differences to the Special Master for arbitration; the Court further directed DOC to inform the Special Master as to its transition plan. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 433 S.E.2d 526 (W. Va. 1993). On May 20, 1994, the Supreme Court of Appeals (per curiam) adopted the Special Master's recommendations respecting inmate telephone and mail access. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 445 S.E.2d 730 (W. Va. 1994).

On July 14, 1994, the Supreme Court of Appeals (per curiam) again granted DOC more time to close WVP and transfer inmates to the new prison. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 447 S.E.2d 275 (W. Va. 1994).

After the Circuit Court (Judge John Madden) granted the plaintiffs' request for time cuts in the form of "credit on sentences[s]," the defendants appealed. On December 15, 1994, the Supreme Court of Appeals (Justice Margaret Workman) reversed and remanded. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 454 S.E.2d 108 (W. Va. 1994). The Court held that, since the Supreme Court of Appeals retained ultimate authority to effectuate a remedy for prison conditions that it had created, the trial court had no authority to grant "credit on sentence[s].

Having reviewed another status report on the delayed construction of the new prison, on December 21, 1994, the Supreme Court of Appeals (per curiam) held that the case would remain on the Court's docket until the old prison was closed. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 452 S.E.2d 732 (W. Va. 1994).

On March 24, 1995, the Supreme Court of Appeals (per curiam) recognized that WVP was being closed, the Mount Olive Correctional Complex was completed and that all inmates were being transferred; however, the Court held that the case would continue to remain on the Court's docket until completion and ordered all habeas petitions to be transferred to the county where the new facility was located. Crain v. Bordenkircher, 456 S.E.2d 206 (W. Va. 1995).

We have no more information on this file.

Summary Authors

Josh Altman (6/20/2006)

People


Judge(s)

Brotherton, William T. Jr. (West Virginia)

McGraw, Warren (West Virginia)

Miller, Thomas B. (West Virginia)

Neely, Richard Forlani (West Virginia)

Workman, Margaret L. (West Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Baxter, Barbara L. (West Virginia)

Companion, James F. (West Virginia)

Harless, Larry (West Virginia)

Wilmoth, William D. (West Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Brown, Charlie (West Virginia)

Judge(s)

Brotherton, William T. Jr. (West Virginia)

McGraw, Warren (West Virginia)

Miller, Thomas B. (West Virginia)

Neely, Richard Forlani (West Virginia)

Workman, Margaret L. (West Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Baxter, Barbara L. (West Virginia)

Companion, James F. (West Virginia)

Harless, Larry (West Virginia)

Wilmoth, William D. (West Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Brown, Charlie (West Virginia)

David, Dana (West Virginia)

Gillooly, Thomas J. (West Virginia)

Hedges, Daniel F. (West Virginia)

Palumbo, Mario J. (West Virginia)

Stuart, Rita (West Virginia)

Taylor, Silas (West Virginia)

Tompkins, Roger W. (West Virginia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Davis, Dana (West Virginia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

No. 16646

Reported Opinion

342 S.E.2d 422

March 27, 1986

March 27, 1986

Order/Opinion

No. 17176

Opinion

357 S.E.2d 778

May 29, 1987

May 29, 1987

Order/Opinion

No. 16646

Reported Opinion

376 S.E.2d 140

Nov. 30, 1988

Nov. 30, 1988

Order/Opinion

No. 16646

Reported Opinion

382 S.E.2d 68

June 16, 1989

June 16, 1989

Order/Opinion

No. 16646

Reported Opinion

392 S.E.2d 227

April 13, 1990

April 13, 1990

Order/Opinion

No. 16646

Reported Opinion

408 S.E.2d 355

July 25, 1991

July 25, 1991

Order/Opinion

No. 16646

Reported Opinion

420 S.E.2d 732

June 25, 1992

June 25, 1992

Order/Opinion

No. 16646

Reported Opinion

424 S.E.2d 751

Dec. 11, 1992

Dec. 11, 1992

Order/Opinion

No. 16646

Reported Opinion

433 S.E.2d 526

July 16, 1993

July 16, 1993

Order/Opinion

No. 16646

Opinion

445 S.E.2d 730

May 20, 1994

May 20, 1994

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: West Virginia

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: 1981

Case Ongoing: Unknown

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

inmates at the West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville (WVP)

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

W. Va. Penitentiary, Mount-Olive Correctional Complex (Moundsville), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1983 - 0

Issues

General:

Totality of conditions

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Type of Facility:

Government-run