Case: Washington v. Meachum

94-534616 | Connecticut state trial court

Filed Date: 1994

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 1994, the Superior Court of Connecticut heard a class action lawsuit filed by inmates of the Connecticut correctional institutions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Commissioner of Correction, challenging regulations that authorized surveillance of prisoners' telephone use and mail. The inmates were represented by Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation. They challenged the regulations as violating Connecticut law and the United States Constitution. The case was tried in state court…

In 1994, the Superior Court of Connecticut heard a class action lawsuit filed by inmates of the Connecticut correctional institutions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Commissioner of Correction, challenging regulations that authorized surveillance of prisoners' telephone use and mail. The inmates were represented by Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation. They challenged the regulations as violating Connecticut law and the United States Constitution.

The case was tried in state court over the course of eleven days in July 1994, and included extensive witnesses and exhibits. The Harvard Law School Criminal Justice Institute and other organizations filed briefs as amici curiae. Shortly after final arguments were heard, the Commissioner resigned and the subsequent Commissioner was substituted. On March 6, 1995, the court (Judge Jon C. Blue) issued its decision, concluding that corrections officials could lawfully listen and record non-privileged inmate telephone conversations and monitor outgoing mail. Specifically, in a memorandum opinion, the court held the following: 1) the State had not violated state law by its administration of surveillance over inmates' calls; 2) the listening programs did not violate the Connecticut Constitution; 3) the monitoring of outgoing mail did not violate the federal Constitution; 4) the AIDS testing and medical information privacy laws were not violated in the monitoring of phone and mail; and 5) the Commissioner was not liable for monetary damages. The court did find that listening programs with respect to inmates' conversations with their attorneys violated the Connecticut Constitution. Washington v. Meachum, No. 534616, 1995 WL 127823 (Conn.Super.Ct. March 6, 1995). The Court ordered modifications with respect to communications between inmates and attorneys. The parties appealed.

On August 6, 1996, the Supreme Court of Connecticut (Judge Robert J. Callahan) upheld the Court's finding that the programs did not violate state or federal law and reversed and remanded the modifications on attorney-inmate communication procedure. Washington v. Meachum, 680 A.2d 262 (Conn. 1996). On October 30, 1996, the Superior Court (Judge Blue) decided costs and attorneys' fees to be paid to plaintiffs. Washington v. Meachum, 1996 WL 649313 (Conn.Super.Ct. Oct. 30, 1996).

No further information is available.

Summary Authors

Rebecca Bloch (4/23/2006)

People


Judge(s)

Blue, Jon C. (Connecticut)

Callahan, Consuelo Maria (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Dignam, Brett (Connecticut)

Pottenger, John L. Jr. (Connecticut)

Riehl, Carl (New York)

Stone, Martha (Connecticut)

Tegeler, Philip D. (Connecticut)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Alexandre, Henri (Connecticut)

Blumenthal, Richard (Connecticut)

O'Neill, Stephen J. (Connecticut)

Judge(s)

Blue, Jon C. (Connecticut)

Callahan, Consuelo Maria (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Dignam, Brett (Connecticut)

Pottenger, John L. Jr. (Connecticut)

Riehl, Carl (New York)

Stone, Martha (Connecticut)

Tegeler, Philip D. (Connecticut)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Alexandre, Henri (Connecticut)

Blumenthal, Richard (Connecticut)

O'Neill, Stephen J. (Connecticut)

Rosenberg, Jane R. (Connecticut)

Strom, Steven R. (Connecticut)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

94-534616

Memorandum of Decision Re: Substitution of Defendant

1995 WL 127823, 1995 Conn.App.LEXIS 794

March 6, 1995

March 6, 1995

Order/Opinion

15281

Opinion

Connecticut state supreme court

680 A.2d 262

Aug. 6, 1996

Aug. 6, 1996

Order/Opinion

94-534616

Memorandum of Decision Re: Plaintiffs' Motion for Costs and Attorneys Fees

1996 WL 649313, 1996 Conn.App.LEXIS 2838

Oct. 30, 1996

Oct. 30, 1996

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 1, 2022, 3:03 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Connecticut

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: 1994

Case Ongoing: Unknown

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Sentenced prisoners and pre-trial detainees housed in the state correctional institutions in Connecticut

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Unknown

Defendants

Connecticut Correctional Institutions, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Freedom of speech/association

Unreasonable search and seizure

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1995 - None

Issues

General:

Mail

Phone

Type of Facility:

Government-run