Case: McDonald v. Armontrout

2:85-cv-04422 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Filed Date: Aug. 19, 1985

Closed Date: 1997

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 19, 1985, death row inmates in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri (MSP), filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against MSP, Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC), and the State of Missouri, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Central Division. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the condi…

On August 19, 1985, death row inmates in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri (MSP), filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against MSP, Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC), and the State of Missouri, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Central Division. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the conditions of confinement at MSP were intolerable and unlawful in violation of the plaintiffs' First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that they were confined to their cells for 23 hours per day, permitted only three outdoor recreation periods per week, not afforded sufficient use of weight machines, often denied showers and access to common areas, afforded a total floor space of 20 square feet and no windows, provided grossly inadequate sanitation, ventilation, lighting, bedding and drinking water, disciplined unreasonably harshly by seclusion, harassed by guards, denied group dining and frequent meals, denied group religious services, denied access to the law and prison library as well as unfettered access to lawyers, denied adequate medical, mental and dental care, denied employment and education, denied telephone and mail access, and provided with unreasonably hazardous facilities.

On January 15, 1986, the District Court (Judge Scott O. Wright) certified a class comprised of all inmates who were or would be confined under sentence of death by the Missouri Department of Corrections and Human Resources.

The parties apparently began negotiating a settlement agreement shortly after the class was certified, and on January 7, 1987, the District Court (Judge Wright) approved a consent decree. Under the consent decree, DOC agreed to refrain from reading or otherwise mishandling inmates' legal mail and materials, provide a privacy room for religious services, provide a telephone jack between cells and allow use of them, provide medical and mental health services, classify inmates by behavior, expand the staff and improve staff training at the prison, expand recreation time and provide better equipped space, improve plumbing, lighting, bedding, showers, sanitation, ventilation, education, and fire safety conditions, increase visitation privileges, and improve food service. Further, under the consent decree, the plaintiffs retained the right to seek other and further relief from the Court as might be necessary to remedy deficient conditions at the prison.

Thereafter, there was some litigation concerning attorneys' fees. McDonald v. Armontrout, 860 F.2d 1456 (8th Cir. 1988).

On March 13, 1989, the District Court (Judge Wright) allowed DOC to move the capital punishment unit for men from MSP to the Potosi Correctional Center (PCC). On May 10, 1989, the District Court (Judge Wright) modified and approved the defendants' plan to implement the consent decree at PCC. McDonald v. Armontrout, No. 85-4422CVC5, 1989 WL 1128973 (W.D. Mo. May 10, 1989). The plaintiffs appealed.

On July 16, 1990, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Pasco Middleton Bowman II) affirmed the District Court's March 13, 1989, ruling. McDonald v. Armontrout, 908 F.2d 388 (8th Cir. 1990). The Court held that DOC's decision to move the capital punishment unit from MSP to PCC constituted a change in circumstance that warranted a modification of the consent decree and that the modifications sufficiently satisfied constitutional requirements.

In 1992, negotiations between the parties resumed through which the state allowed all death row inmates, exclusive of those with conduct violation problems, to be released into the general population at PCC. The state subsequently sought to have the consent decree dismissed, claiming that the changes nullified any need for the Court to continue to police the enforcement of the consent decree.

On September 18, 1995, the District Court (Judge Edward L. Filippine) granted the defendants' motion to vacate, terminating the modified consent decree and the Court's jurisdiction over the matter. McDonald v. Bowersox, No. 89-1086 C(2), 1995 WL 17013058 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 18, 1995). The plaintiffs appealed.

On April 2, 1997, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Bowman) affirmed the District Court's September 18, 1995, decision to terminate the lawsuit. McDonald v. Carnahan, 109 F.3d 1319 (8th Cir. 1997). The Court held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion, reasoning that, "once the decree had accomplished its purpose, remedying any conditions of death row that may have fallen short of constitutional standards, the District Court properly could vacate it and bring this case to a close."

On September 17, 1997, one named plaintiff filed a pro se civil rights action challenging provisions of the Missouri Prison Litigation Reform Act and prison locker policy. On September 19, 1997, the District Court (Judge Catherine D. Perry) dismissed the claims as speculative and frivolous, denying the inmate's request for a stay of execution. On appeal, on September 22, 1997, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (per curiam) dismissed the appeal, affirming the District Court's ruling that the lawsuit was frivolous. McDonald v. Carnahan, 125 F.3d 652 (8th Cir. 1997).

We have no more information on this file.

Summary Authors

Josh Altman (6/21/2006)

People


Judge(s)

Bowman, Pasco Middleton II (Missouri)

Filippine, Edward Louis (Missouri)

Jones, John Bailey (South Dakota)

Magill, Frank J. (North Dakota)

McMillian, Theodore (Missouri)

Murphy, Diana E. (Minnesota)

Wollman, Roger Leland (South Dakota)

Wright, Scott Olin (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Berger, Joel (New York)

Chambers, Julius LeVonne (New York)

Judge(s)

Bowman, Pasco Middleton II (Missouri)

Filippine, Edward Louis (Missouri)

Jones, John Bailey (South Dakota)

Magill, Frank J. (North Dakota)

McMillian, Theodore (Missouri)

Murphy, Diana E. (Minnesota)

Wollman, Roger Leland (South Dakota)

Wright, Scott Olin (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Berger, Joel (New York)

Chambers, Julius LeVonne (New York)

Emmel, Nancy E. (Missouri)

Leritz, Christopher P. (Missouri)

Sindel, Richard H. (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Boresi, Susan D. (Missouri)

Hawke, Stephen David (Missouri)

Herschel, Henry Thomas (Missouri)

Neff, Deborah (Missouri)

Webster, William L. (Missouri)

Other Attorney(s)

Elvin, Jan (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket (PACER)

McDonald v. Delo

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

May 30, 1997 Docket

Docket (PACER)

Nov. 30, 2001 Docket

Complaint

Aug. 19, 1985 Complaint

Consent Decree

May 22, 1986 Settlement Agreement

Reported Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

860 F.2d 1456

Nov. 9, 1988 Order/Opinion
293

Order, Judgment

1989 WL 1128973

May 10, 1989 Order/Opinion
294

Judgment Transferring to Missouri, E.D.

May 11, 1989 Order/Opinion

Reported Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

908 F.2d 388

July 16, 1990 Order/Opinion

Correspondence

July 14, 1992 Correspondence

Order

McDonald v. Bowersox

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

1995 WL 17013058

Sept. 18, 1995 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Rethinking “Death Row”: Variations in the Housing of Individuals Sentenced to Death

Celina Aldape, Ryan Cooper, Katherine Haas, Xionan April Hu, Jessica Hunter, Shelle Shimizu, Johanna Kalb, Judith Resnik

In 2015, individuals sentenced to death in the United States were housed in varying degrees of isolation. Many people were kept apart from others in profoundly isolating conditions, while others were… July 9, 2016 https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2806015

Docket

Last updated May 13, 2022

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

ORIGINAL file, certified copy of transfer order and docket sheet received from The Western District of MO with document numbers 1 thru 302 (Western District of MO case #85-4422-CV-5) (GLF) (Entered: 03/12/1997)

June 8, 1989
2

ORDER by Honorable Edward L. Filippine dismissing case With Prejudice (cc: all counsel) (GLF) (Entered: 03/12/1997)

Sept. 18, 1995
3

NOTICE OF APPEAL filed by plaintiff Alan Bannister re: the District Court decision; [2-2] (GLF) (Entered: 03/13/1997)

Oct. 20, 1995
4

NOTICE OF APPEAL filed by plaintiff Samuel L. McDonald re: the District Court decision ; [2-2] (GLF) (Entered: 03/13/1997)

Oct. 24, 1995

DELIVERED TO USCA - 1 Civil Appeal Cover Sheet, 2 Certified Copies of Notice of Appeal, 2 Certified Copies of Clerk's Docket entries, and 2 Certified Copies of the order for both Bannister and McDonald (GLF) (Entered: 03/13/1997)

Nov. 14, 1995
5

ORDER FROM USCA copy filed terminating attorney Richard H. Sindel for Alan Bannister USCA number: 95-3843 (GLF) (Entered: 03/13/1997)

March 6, 1996
6

NOTIFICATION AND BRIEFING SCHEDULE (USCA) FILED, USCA #: 95-3845 and 95-3843 Clk's Rec due: 4/19/96 Transcript Due: 4/19/96 Designations Due: 04/01/96 Briefs Due: 05/29/96 (GLF) (Entered: 03/13/1997)

March 6, 1996
7

DESIGNATION OF RECORD ON APPEAL requested by plaintiff Samuel L. McDonald, plaintiff Alan Bannister to be forwarded to the USCA and pltfs' attorney. (GLF) (Entered: 03/13/1997)

March 29, 1996

DESIGNATED RECORD ON APPEAL DELIVERED TO (USCA), Letter and copy of Index sent to attorneys of record. (GLF) (Entered: 03/13/1997)

May 6, 1996
8

Opinion from USCA on USCA number 95-3843EMSL Opinion of USCA: affirmed (FCE) (Entered: 04/07/1997)

April 2, 1997
9

ORDER FROM USCA copy filed USCA number: 95-3843 EMSL; The suggestion for rehearing en banc is denied; The petition for rehearing by the panel is also denied (FCE) (Entered: 05/14/1997)

May 12, 1997
10

MANDATE W/OPINION ATTACHED from (USCA) affirming the decision of the District Court [4-1], affirming the decision of the District Court [3-1] (cc: all counsel) (MCB) (Entered: 06/04/1997)

May 30, 1997

State / Territory: Missouri

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 19, 1985

Closing Date: 1997

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All inmates who were or woud be confined under sentence of death by the Missouri Department of Corrections and Human Resources.

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Missouri State Penitentiary (Mineral Point), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

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: 1987 - 1997

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Assault/abuse by staff

Bathing and hygiene

Disciplinary procedures

Education

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Law library access

Library (non-law) access

Mail

Phone

Recreation / Exercise

Religious programs / policies

Sanitation / living conditions

Totality of conditions

Medical/Mental Health:

Dental care

Medical care, general

Mental health care, general

Type of Facility:

Government-run