Case: Bruscino v. Carlson

4:84-cv-04320 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

Filed Date: July 24, 1984

Closed Date: June 19, 1989

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

Several prisoners at the Marion Federal Penitentiary, represented by private counsel, on July 24, 1984, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983-based complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. They primarily alleged that the defendants, federal prison officials, violated the plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment and their Fifth Amendment due process guarantees, making the prisoners entitled to injunctive and monetary relief. On August 1, 1…

Several prisoners at the Marion Federal Penitentiary, represented by private counsel, on July 24, 1984, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983-based complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. They primarily alleged that the defendants, federal prison officials, violated the plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment and their Fifth Amendment due process guarantees, making the prisoners entitled to injunctive and monetary relief. On August 1, 1985, the court certified the case as a class action, with the class defined as present and future prisoners at the Marion facility. According to the plaintiffs, prison conditions existing in connection with a "lockdown" resulted in the constitutional violations. These conditions included use of excessive force, rectal searches, lengthy confinement in cells, and arbitrary procedures by which prisoners were placed at and transferred to Marion.

Beginning in January, 1985, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Meyers conducted a multi-day hearing to consider the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. Judge Meyers subsequently issued a report and recommendation finding no constitutional violations stemming from the defendants' practices at the prison. The plaintiffs objected to the magistrate's findings. District Judge James L. Foreman then reviewed the record made before the magistrate and supplemented it, both with additional hearings and a personal, unannounced visit to the Marion facility.

On February 25, 1987, Judge Foreman adopted the magistrate's report, agreeing that the conditions in Marion, considered alone or in combination, do not violate the Constitution. The judge found acceptable the prison officials' use of force and restraints, as well as the limitations on out of cell time (which varied, depending on the housing unit, with a minimum of five hours per week provided for those in disciplinary or protective custody). He found that no due process right entitled prisoners to hearings preceding transfer to or within Marion, nor were officials' procedures governing prisoners' access to legal materials, attorney visitation, and handling of legal mail constitutionally infirm. Provision made for group religious services, although limited, sufficed in view of documented security concerns. Such concerns also precluded the court from finding the physical rectal search practices at the prison that violated the Eighth Amendment, according to Judge Foreman. Citing findings of an ongoing, on-site study by an expert in psychiatry, the court determined that the several complained-of practices did not, considered in their totality, create conditions resulting in cruel and unusual punishment. Bruscino v. Carlson, 654 F. Supp 609 (S.D. IL. 1987).

An appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Seventh Circuit resulted in a panel opinion affirming the district court. Observing that living under the conditions the plaintiffs described may be sordid and horrible, the Seventh Circuit also noted an evaluation of those conditions must consider both the record, which showed an extraordinary history of violence by Marion's prisoners (including multiple murders of guards and prisoners, as well as searches producing a wide range of weaponry, hidden in body cavities and elsewhere), and the limited competence of federal courts to micromanage prisons. In the circumstances, each condition of which the plaintiffs complained fell within constitutional limits, and their cumulative effect, albeit "ghastly," did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment, "given the extraordinary security problems at the prison." Piecemeal relief from certain control practices would impair the defendants' unitary system for dealing with "the nation's least corrigible inmates," which the appellate court declined to do. Bruscino v. Carlson, 854 F.2d 162 (7th Cir. 1988) (Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner). The appellate court also upheld the rejection of plaintiffs' due process claims concerning access to courts and legal assistance and their claim that transfers to and within Marion required prior notice and hearings. Id. On November 4, 1988, the court denied the plaintiffs' request for a rehearing en banc. On June 19, 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case. Bruscino v. Carlson, 491 U.S. 907 (1989).

Summary Authors

Mike Fagan (4/24/2008)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6228550/parties/bruscino-v-carlson/


Judge(s)

Bauer, William Joseph (Illinois)

Flaum, Joel Martin (Illinois)

Foreman, James L. (Illinois)

Posner, Richard Allen (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Eisenberg, Howard B (Illinois)

Horgan, Nancy (Illinois)

Kolb, Donna (Illinois)

Roberts, James (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Friederich, Ralph (Illinois)

Hess, Frederick J (Illinois)

Judge(s)

Bauer, William Joseph (Illinois)

Flaum, Joel Martin (Illinois)

Foreman, James L. (Illinois)

Posner, Richard Allen (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Eisenberg, Howard B (Illinois)

Horgan, Nancy (Illinois)

Kolb, Donna (Illinois)

Roberts, James (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Friederich, Ralph (Illinois)

Hess, Frederick J (Illinois)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

4:84-cv-04320

Memorandum and Order

654 F.Supp. 609

Feb. 25, 1987

Feb. 25, 1987

Order/Opinion

87-01683

87-01943

[Appellate Opinion]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

854 F.2d 162

July 22, 1988

July 22, 1988

Order/Opinion

87-01683

87-01943

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

1988 U.S.App.LEXIS 15932

Nov. 4, 1988

Nov. 4, 1988

Order/Opinion

88-06913

Memorandum Decisions

Supreme Court of the United States

491 U.S. 907, 109 S.Ct. 3193, 105 L.Ed.2d 701

June 19, 1989

June 19, 1989

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6228550/bruscino-v-carlson/

Last updated Aug. 12, 2022, 3:12 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

Civil Docket Sheet. (Attachments: # 1 Docket Sheet Part 2)(msd) (Entered: 06/27/2016)

June 29, 1984

June 29, 1984

PACER
2

COMPLAINT for Declaratory Judgment, Injunctive Relief and for Damages against All Defendants, filed by All Plaintiffs.(msd) (Entered: 06/27/2016)

June 29, 1984

June 29, 1984

PACER
3

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS by Magistrate Judge Meyers denying defendants Motion to Dismiss in part and that plaintiffs be granted time not to exceed 30 days to file an amended complaint to conform to order of dismissal on defendants motion.. (msd) (Entered: 06/27/2016)

Dec. 20, 1984

Dec. 20, 1984

PACER
4

Exhibit List of Preliminary Injunction Hearing held January, 1985 before Judge Kenneth J. Meyers. (Attachments: # 1 Plaintiffs Exhibit 1-18, # 2 Plaintiffs Exhibit 19-24, # 3 Plaintiffs Exhibit 25-30, # 4 Plaintiffs Exhibit 35-36)(msd) (Entered: 07/20/2016)

July 20, 2016

July 20, 2016

PACER
5

Sealed Exhibit 97 of Preliminary Injunction Hearing held January, 1985 before Magistrate Judge Meyers (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Part 2, # 2 Exhibit Part 3, # 3 Exhibit Part 4, # 4 Exhibit Part 5, # 5 Exhibit Part 6, # 6 Exhibit Part 8, # 7 Exhibit Part 9, # 8 Exhibit Part 10, # 9 Exhibit Part 11, # 10 Exhibit Part 12, # 11 Exhibit Part 13, # 12 Exhibit Part 14, # 13 Exhibit Part 15, # 14 Exhibit Part 16, # 15 Exhibit Part 17, # 16 Exhibit Part 18, # 17 Exhibit Part 19, # 18 Exhibit Part 20, # 19 Exhibit Part 21, # 20 Exhibit Part 22, # 21 Exhibit Part 23, # 22 Exhibit Part 24)(msd) (Entered: 07/20/2016)

July 20, 2016

July 20, 2016

PACER

Transcripts Sent to Federal Records Center on 10/4/2016: accession number PT-021-2011-0644, to be interfiled with case file scheduled to be sent to National Archives on 1/1/2017 as historically significant file. (msd)

Oct. 4, 2016

Oct. 4, 2016

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: Illinois

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Solitary confinement

Strip Search Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 24, 1984

Closing Date: June 19, 1989

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

“all prisoners who are confined at Marion Penitentiary or who may in the future be confined at Marion Penitentiary.”

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Unknown

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Assault/abuse by staff

Classification / placement

Mail

Recreation / Exercise

Religious programs / policies

Restraints : physical

Search policies

Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)

Strip search policy

Totality of conditions

Affected Gender:

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run