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Case: Johnson v. Galley

1:77-00113 | U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Filed Date: Jan. 24, 1977

Closed Date: Feb. 26, 1997

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 1977, inmates at the Maryland House of Correction ("MHC") filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The plaintiffs, who were represented in part by the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the defendants had violated their constitutional rights by allowing MH…

In 1977, inmates at the Maryland House of Correction ("MHC") filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The plaintiffs, who were represented in part by the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the defendants had violated their constitutional rights by allowing MHC to become dangerously overcrowded, subjecting them to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In 1978, a similar lawsuit was filed challenging the conditions at the Maryland Correctional Institute ("MCI") at Hagerstown, Maryland. The cases were subsequently consolidated.

On May 17, 1978, the District Court (Judge Alexander Harvey II) granted declaratory and injunctive relief to the plaintiffs, finding that the prison was unconstitutionally overcrowded and ordering the prison to discontinue the use of double-celling. The Court ruled that the parties to the lawsuit must try to agree upon an appropriate plan for elimination of overcrowding, warning that if no agreement could be reached, the court would itself determine what relief would be entered. Johnson v. Levine, 450 F.Supp. 648 (D.Md. 1978). The defendants appealed.

In the interim, the defendants came forth with a plan involving construction of a new facility, conversion of an old facility, and early release of prisoners that were believed to be appropriate for release. They claimed that under this plan, the overcrowded conditions would be gone by June 1, 1980. On December 13, 1978, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a per curiam opinion partially affirming the District Court's decision, holding that the prisons were unconstitutionally overcrowded, but finding that the defendants' plan to alleviate overcrowding deserved judicial approval. Johnson v. Levine, 588 F.2d 1378 (4th Cir. 1978).

We are unsure about whether the District Court adopted the defendants' proposed plan, but in 1983, the parties entered into a stipulated agreement providing for population caps and other procedures to address the conditions at both facilities. In 1987, the plaintiffs moved to modify that agreement. As a result of negotiations, the parties entered into a new stipulated agreement on July 8, 1987, resolving a majority of the claims raised by the plaintiffs.

On December 3, 1987, the parties agreed to a supplemental stipulated agreement resolving the remaining issues. These agreements provided comprehensive prospective relief governing a broad spectrum of issues: population limitations, double-celling, environmental conditions, repair and replacement of windows, plumbing fixtures, painted surfaces, roofing, ventilation systems, food services, security, work programs, recreational programs, educational programs, and healthcare. The District Court approved these agreements on February 19, 1988.

On March 8, 1990, the parties jointly stipulated that there were still critical issues in the areas of healthcare, nutrition, environmental conditions, fire safety, and population limits at both institutions involved in this litigation. The parties agreed that the plaintiffs' experts would work together with the defendants to develop specific plans to come into compliance with the stipulated agreements. In return, the defendants agreed not to increase the population at either facility until they were back within the proper population limits, except in an emergency and after notification of the plaintiffs' attorney.

During the negotiations that followed, the parties compiled a list of 83 repairs that needed to be maid at the two facilities. The prison officials provided a timetable of projected dates for completing the repairs, but insisted that they were tentative and conditions at all times on obtaining needed funding. Over the next year, the prison officials made substantial progress in completing the repairs, finishing 69 of the 83 items by July 31, 1991. On June 7, 1991, the prisoners asked the District Court to convert the timetable into a court order and to fine the prison officials $1000 per day for each day that the improvements were delayed, following a 30-day grace period.

On September 19, 1991, the District Court (Judge William M. Nickerson) issued an order approving the timetable as an official agreement (over the objections of the defendants), but denying the request for automatic penalties. The defendants appealed, and on February 22, 1993, the Fourth Circuit (James Harvie Wilkinson III) reversed the District Court's order and held that the timetable could not be enforced as an agreement between the parties. Johnson v. Robinson 987 F.2d 1043 (4th Cir. 1993).

On October 15, 1996, the defendants asked the District Court to terminate the consent decrees in this case pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). The plaintiffs objected, arguing that the PLRA was unconstitutional. On February 26, 1997, the District Court (Judge Nickerson) held that the PLRA was constitutional and that it required the immediate termination of the consent decrees and stipulations that had been approved by the Court in this case because the plaintiffs were unable to point to any ongoing constitutional violation.

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (10/1/2007)

Related Cases

Nelson v. Collins, District of Maryland (1977)

People


Judge(s)

Butzner, John Decker Jr. (Virginia)

Hall, William F. (Pennsylvania)

Harvey, Alexander II (Maryland)

Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (South Carolina)

Luttig, J. Michael (Virginia)

Nickerson, William M. (Maryland)

Russell, Donald Stuart (South Carolina)

Widener, Hiram Emory Jr. (Virginia)

Wilkinson, James Harvie III (Virginia)

Winter, Harrison Lee (Maryland)

Judge(s)

Butzner, John Decker Jr. (Virginia)

Hall, William F. (Pennsylvania)

Harvey, Alexander II (Maryland)

Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (South Carolina)

Luttig, J. Michael (Virginia)

Nickerson, William M. (Maryland)

Russell, Donald Stuart (South Carolina)

Widener, Hiram Emory Jr. (Virginia)

Wilkinson, James Harvie III (Virginia)

Winter, Harrison Lee (Maryland)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Aiyetoro, Adjoa A. (District of Columbia)

Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)

Coe, Ward B. III (Maryland)

Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia)

Pierson, W. Michel (Maryland)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bekman, Paul D. (Maryland)

Boteler, Sandra D. (Maryland)

Burch, Francis B. (Maryland)

Caplis, Stephen B. (Maryland)

Coshnear, Lawrence B. (Maryland)

Curran, John Joseph Jr. (Maryland)

Dantes, Phillip G. (Maryland)

Elcano, Mary S. (Maryland)

Finan, W. Timothy (Maryland)

Fishman, Richard G. (Maryland)

Kastendieck, Richard H. (Maryland)

Nathan, Stuart M. (Maryland)

Nilson, George A. (Maryland)

North, Richard L. (Maryland)

Plitt, Emory A. Jr. (Maryland)

Sachs, Stephen H. (Maryland)

Sharp, Clarence W. (Maryland)

Shepard, Carmen Mercedes (District of Columbia)

Steele, Nevett Jr. (Maryland)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:77-00113

Opinion

Johnson v. Williams

May 17, 1978

May 17, 1978

Order/Opinion

78-06416

78-06419

Opinion

Johnson v. Levine

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Dec. 13, 1978

Dec. 13, 1978

Order/Opinion

1:77-00113

Stipulation

Johnson v. Schmidt

Aug. 28, 1985

Aug. 28, 1985

Pleading / Motion / Brief

1:77-00113

Stipulation Agreement

Oct. 5, 1987

Oct. 5, 1987

Pleading / Motion / Brief

1:77-00113

Supplemental Stipulated Agreement

Dec. 23, 1987

Dec. 23, 1987

Order/Opinion

1:77-00113

Stipulation of Facts and Agreed Resolution

March 8, 1990

March 8, 1990

Pleading / Motion / Brief

92-06231

Opinion

Johnson v. Robinson

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Feb. 22, 1993

Feb. 22, 1993

Order/Opinion

1:77-00113

Memorandum & Order

Johnson v. Robinson

Feb. 26, 1997

Feb. 26, 1997

Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated Nov. 30, 2022, 3:16 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Maryland

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 24, 1977

Closing Date: Feb. 26, 1997

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

prisoners of the State of Maryland

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU National (all projects)

ACLU National Prison Project

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Unknown

Defendants

Maryland Correctional Institution (Hagerstown), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

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: 1978 - 1997

Issues

General:

Education

Fire safety

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Recreation / Exercise

Rehabilitation

Sanitation / living conditions

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Totality of conditions

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Pre-PLRA Population Cap

Affected Gender:

Female

Male

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Type of Facility:

Government-run