Case: Jerry M. v. District of Columbia

1519-85 | District of Columbia state trial court

Filed Date: March 1, 1985

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On March 1, 1985, a class of juveniles confined at juvenile detention centers operated by the District of Columbia ("the District") filed a lawsuit against the District under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. They alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the juveniles' Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights. Plaintiffs specifically challenged the conditions of confinement at Cedar Knoll Youth Center and Oak Hill Youth Center, both in Laur…

On March 1, 1985, a class of juveniles confined at juvenile detention centers operated by the District of Columbia ("the District") filed a lawsuit against the District under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. They alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the juveniles' Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights. Plaintiffs specifically challenged the conditions of confinement at Cedar Knoll Youth Center and Oak Hill Youth Center, both in Laurel, Maryland, alleging that the facilities at Cedar Knoll were unfit for habitation and that rehabilitative services, including educational and vocational training services, mental health and medical services, and social and recreational services, were unconstitutionally and statutorily inadequate at both Centers. The complaint further alleged that a climate of violence existed at both Centers, and that policies concerning attorney-client communication and family visitation at both Centers violated the juveniles' rights. The plaintiffs, represented by the Public Defender Service and the ACLU National Prison Project, sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

On July 24, 1986, the Superior Court (Honorable Ricardo M. Urbina) approved and entered a consent decree ("the Decree"). The consent decree established a panel of three experts to determine the correct number of juveniles in the District in need of secure confinement, and develop a system for appropriate care of these juveniles. The Decree established procedural rules for staff discipline and training, recordkeeping, and discipline of juveniles; set forth detailed requirements for diagnostic procedures, cottage life, recreational, mental health, and social services, as well as education and vocational training programs; and required the District to submit a plan and timetable for resolving environmental health and safety concerns.

We have only appellate decisions describing subsequent litigation, but it is clear that extensive litigation over the scope of the Decree followed. Following the panel's submission of a plan to the court, and the court's orders pursuant to this plan, the District appealed. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals (Chief Judge Rogers) found that the trial judge had exceeded his authority under the scope of the decree in certain respects. Jerry M. v. District of Columbia, 571 A.2d 178 (D.C. Ct. App. 1990). The court of appeals did, however, find that the trial judge had not erred in finding that the District had, "failed to meet its basic commitment under the Decree," and imposing sanctions.

On September 5, 1990, the D.C. Court of Appeals (Judge Farrell) affirmed the lower court's ruling that plaintiffs' attorneys could be awarded fees for their work enforcing the Decree, but remanded the issue to the trial court because the it had failed to adequately explain its reasoning as to the amount of fees awarded. District of Columbia v. Jerry M., 580 A.2d 1270 (D.C. Ct. App. 1990). Attorney's fees litigation continued over several years. In 1996, the plaintiffs' attorney submitted a bill for work done during the months of April, May, and June, 1996. Defendants contested, arguing that fees for any work done after passage of the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") were subject to the PLRA fee cap; the District Court (Judge Richard A. Levie) held that the PLRA did not apply to juvenile facilities, but on September 3, 1998, the D.C. Court of Appeals (Judge Schwelb) reversed, and held that the PLRA's limitation on attorney fee awards did apply to attorneys whose clients were confined juveniles, and that the fee cap did not violate due process. District of Columbia v. Jerry M., 717 A.2d 866 (D.C. 1998).

Meanwhile, on June 24, 1997, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia appointed a Special Master to assist the defendants "in identifying and correcting deficiencies in the provision of educational services required by the Consent Decree," because the defendants had repeatedly failed to bring the educational systems at the Centers into compliance with the Decree. In August, 1998, the Special Master expressed concern over "certain personnel, resource, and training issues" at the Oak Hill Center, and the trial court appointed a receiver "to assume, ëultimate control over the education system at Oak Hill.'" The District appealed, and the D.C. Court of Appeals (per curiam) held that, while the District had not fully complied with the Decree, there was not a sufficient basis for the imposition of such an extraordinary remedy. District of Columbia v. Jerry M., 738 A.2d 1206 (D.C. 1999). On May 15, 2000, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. Jerry M. v. District of Columbia, 529 U.S. 1118 (2000). The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Megan Raynor (4/17/2006)

Maurice Youkanna (6/26/2014)

People


Judge(s)

Farrell, Michael W. (District of Columbia)

Kern, Terence C. (Oklahoma)

Rogers, Judith Ann Wilson (District of Columbia)

Schwelb, Frank E. (District of Columbia)

Terry, John A. (District of Columbia)

Urbina, Ricardo M. (District of Columbia)

Wagner, Anice M. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Carter, Francis D (District of Columbia)

Hertz, Randy (District of Columbia)

Klein, James W. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Farrell, Michael W. (District of Columbia)

Kern, Terence C. (Oklahoma)

Rogers, Judith Ann Wilson (District of Columbia)

Schwelb, Frank E. (District of Columbia)

Terry, John A. (District of Columbia)

Urbina, Ricardo M. (District of Columbia)

Wagner, Anice M. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Carter, Francis D (District of Columbia)

Hertz, Randy (District of Columbia)

Klein, James W. (District of Columbia)

Long, Cheryl M. (District of Columbia)

McClymont, Mary E. (District of Columbia)

Ney, Steven (Maryland)

Ogletree, Charles J. (District of Columbia)

Pendry, Reita (District of Columbia)

Reiser, David A. (District of Columbia)

Sonenberg, Santha (District of Columbia)

Stone, Randolph N. (District of Columbia)

Taylor, Kim A. (District of Columbia)

Wilkins, Robert Leon (District of Columbia)

Wulkan, Donna (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Carriere, Colin C. (District of Columbia)

Dorsch, Nancy R. (District of Columbia)

Ferren, John M. (District of Columbia)

Gross, Roberta L. (District of Columbia)

Grossman, Martin L. (District of Columbia)

Love, Richard Stuart (District of Columbia)

McKay, James C. (District of Columbia)

Prager, Lutz Alexander (District of Columbia)

Reid, Herbert O. Sr. (District of Columbia)

Reischel, Charles L. (District of Columbia)

Robinson, Jo Anne (District of Columbia)

Schwab, Edward E. (District of Columbia)

Smith, Walter A Jr. (District of Columbia)

Other Attorney(s)

Rezneck, Daniel A. (District of Columbia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Beyer, Margaret (District of Columbia)

DeMuro, Paul (New Jersey)

Lewis, Michael P. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1519-85

Complaint

March 1, 1985

March 1, 1985

Complaint

1519-85

Amended Complaint

Jan. 15, 1986

Jan. 15, 1986

Complaint

1519-85

Motion to Amend the Complaint and Incorporated Memorandum of points and Authorities

April 1, 1986

April 1, 1986

Pleading / Motion / Brief

1519-85

Consent Decree

July 24, 1986

July 24, 1986

Order/Opinion

88-626

88-782

89-799

Opinion [Finding District in Contempt; Limiting Consent Decree]

District of Columbia v. Jerry M.

District of Columbia state appellate court

571 A.2d 178

Feb. 12, 1990

Feb. 12, 1990

Order/Opinion

89-1371

Opinion [Re: Fees]

District of Columbia v. Jerry M.

District of Columbia state appellate court

580 A.2d 1270

Sept. 5, 1990

Sept. 5, 1990

Order/Opinion

96-CV-1408

Opinion [Re: Fees]

District of Columbia v. Jerry M.

District of Columbia state appellate court

717 A.2d 866

Sept. 3, 1998

Sept. 3, 1998

Order/Opinion

98-CV-1571

Opinion [Vacating Appointment of Receiver]

District of Columbia v. Jerry M.

District of Columbia state appellate court

738 A.2d 1206

Sept. 30, 1999

Sept. 30, 1999

Order/Opinion

99-08822

Memorandum Decision [Denying Cert. to CtApp]

Supreme Court of the United States

529 U.S. 1118, 120 S.Ct. 1981, 146 L.Ed.2d 809

May 15, 2000

May 15, 2000

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 1, 2022, 3:01 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Court-ordered receiverships

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 1, 1985

Closing Date: 2000

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

detained and committed children confined in juvenile facilities in the District of Columbia

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

District of Columbia (District of Columbia), County

District of Columbia (Laurel), Regional

District of Columbia, Regional

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1986 - 0

Content of Injunction:

Hire

Monitoring

Recordkeeping

Reporting

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students

Conditions of confinement

Counseling

Disciplinary procedures

Education

Juveniles

Recreation / Exercise

Rehabilitation

Restraints : physical

Sanitation / living conditions

Special education

Totality of conditions

Transportation

Visiting

Disability:

disability, unspecified

Mental impairment

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Medical care, unspecified

Mental health care, general

Mental health care, unspecified

Type of Facility:

Government-run