Case: Farrell v. Harper

03-79344 | California state trial court

Filed Date: Jan. 16, 2003

Closed Date: 2016

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On January 16, 2003, a taxpayer whose juvenile nephew was a ward of the court filed this lawsuit in the Alameda County, California, Superior Court. The plaintiff filed under state law against the director of the California Youth Authority (CYA). She alleged that the CYA expended funds on policies, procedures, and practices that were illegal under state law. Represented by counsel from the Prison Law Office, from Disability Rights Advocates, and from two major firms, she sought declaratory and i…

On January 16, 2003, a taxpayer whose juvenile nephew was a ward of the court filed this lawsuit in the Alameda County, California, Superior Court. The plaintiff filed under state law against the director of the California Youth Authority (CYA). She alleged that the CYA expended funds on policies, procedures, and practices that were illegal under state law. Represented by counsel from the Prison Law Office, from Disability Rights Advocates, and from two major firms, she sought declaratory and injunctive relief to prohibit the allegedly illegal expenditures and prevent the CYA from subjecting its wards to illegal conduct. She also sought attorneys' fees and continuing jurisdiction by the court until the CYA complied with remedial orders. The CYA generally denied her allegations. Discovery proceedings occurred for the following several months.

The plaintiff's complaint, as amended in September 2003, alleged that the CYA failed in its statutory duties to provide training, treatment and rehabilitation to juvenile wards entrusted to CYA care. These shortcomings included failing to provide for juveniles' safety and subjecting wards to excessive force from staff and sexual assaults from other wards, female-on-female violence, gang violence, and staff-encouraged fights. The plaintiff also alleged that the segregation of wards for conduct reasons involved CYA placement of some individuals in inhumane, filthy, stultifying housing conditions (a) lacking programs to train improved behaviors or to improve mental health problems, and (b) which promoted mental illness and suicide. Relatedly, the plaintiff alleged that CYA wards were denied adequate medical, dental, and mental health care. Deficient or absent educational, substance abuse, exercise, religious, grievance and access to courts programs, at inadequate CYA physical facilities, were among these allegations. The plaintiff asserted that developmentally disabled, cognitively impaired, and sensory impaired CYA wards were denied basic care, physical accommodations, and necessary staffing and were subject to discrimination and harassment. The plaintiff also cited sex discrimination by the CYA in its disparate provision of college classes and vocational training to female wards, in comparison to male wards. The plaintiff's complaint repeatedly quoted from CYA budget and Inspector General reports and documents to bolster her assertions. The plaintiff's complaint did not rely on federal law; instead, she cited dozens of provisions of California's constitution, civil law, and penal code in support of her claims.

The parties agreed that experts would review the CYA's performance in several topical areas. The experts' reports were made available to the plaintiff and the public in early 2004.

The parties entered into a consent decree in early November 2004. It required improving CYA shortcomings in multiple respects, including safety, staff training, classification, grievance systems, religious services, gang-related violence issues, verbal abuse, physical facilities, program access, mental health, education, sex offender treatment, and accommodations for youth with disabilities. The decree called for detailed remedial plans addressing these topics to be filed with the court by January 31, 2005, and implemented by the CYA, for interim plans and improvements in the meantime, and for appointment of a Special Master compensated by CYA funds to monitor remedial compliance. The decree obligated the CYA to retain independent experts in the areas needing remediation and to provide them, and plaintiff's counsel, with access to CYA facilities. Disputes arising under the terms of the decree would be settled by arbitration. Attorneys' fees would be paid by the CYA. Judge Ronald M. Sabraw accepted the consent decree and entered judgment on December 29, 2004.

In succeeding months and years, numerous evaluative reports were filed with the court, as well as Special Master's reports on CYA performance and compliance. Of note, the CYA's name changed during this period, becoming the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. An agreed-upon delay in filing the remedial plans until November 2005, stemmed from the parties' desire to comprehensively remedy systemic problems at DJJ, which required improvements in adult institutions, as well. By November 2006, remedial plans were being implemented covering education, sex behavior treatment, disabilities issues, and medical care, new leadership existed at key DJJ posts, and institutional change was underway, according to the Special Master, who observed mixed progress and DJJ resource limitations.

In August 2011, a federal judge issued an order finding that the DJJ was still in violation of its duties to provide education and programming to wards housed in its facilities. The Court granted a motion for enforcement and set deadlines for the DJJ to comply with its obligations under the Remedial Plan.

The Special Master in the Farrell case continued to file periodic reports detailing the changes in conditions for wards at Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, until the case was dismissed with prejudice by stipulation on February 25, 2016. The parties stipulated to dismiss the case because DJJ had substantially satisfied every obligation under the remaining remedial plans in effect. The case is now closed.

This case is similar to three other cases in this database which were brought, in part, by the Prison Law Office to challenge conditions in California juvenile facilities. Those cases are Hixon v. Hope (JI-CA-0014), Porter v. Speirs (JI-CA-0015), and Waters v. Woodford (JI-CA-0016).

Post-Script: Farrell's Role in Ending Solitary Confinement of Children in California

Farrell played an important role in broad institutional reform in the criminal justice system in California. The litigation spawned an advocacy movement that eventually prompted California to pass legislation to greatly reduce the use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities in 2018. See CAL. WELF. & INST. CODE § 208.3 (2018).The role the Farrell litigation played in these reforms is highlighted in Sue Burrell and Ji Seon Song's 2019 article on "Ending 'Solitary Confinement' of Youth in California" in the Children's Legal Rights Journal, which is attached as a resource on this page.

Summary Authors

Mike Fagan (5/16/2008)

Michael Beech (3/30/2019)

People


Judge(s)

Colwell, Kimberly E. (California)

Sabraw, Ronald M. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Busby, Kyra (California)

Hanson, Shawn A. (California)

Jacobs, Caroline (California)

Mania, Anne (California)

McKinney, Allyson (California)

Mitchell, Caroline N. (California)

Norman, Sara Linda (California)

Paradis, Laurence W. (California)

Judge(s)

Colwell, Kimberly E. (California)

Sabraw, Ronald M. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Busby, Kyra (California)

Hanson, Shawn A. (California)

Jacobs, Caroline (California)

Mania, Anne (California)

McKinney, Allyson (California)

Mitchell, Caroline N. (California)

Norman, Sara Linda (California)

Paradis, Laurence W. (California)

Scafe, Jennifer L. (California)

Specter, Donald H. (California)

Ulmer, Richard Jr. (California)

Wolinsky, Sidney M. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Anderson, Monica (California)

East, Rochelle C. (California)

Grunder, Frances T. (California)

Humes, James M. (California)

Kamberian, Van (California)

Kwong, William C (California)

Lockyer, Bill (California)

Neill, Jennifer Anne (California)

Schreiber, Michelle L. (California)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Acquisto, Stephen (California)

Beltz, Cathleen (California)

Brorby, Donna (California)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket (Attorney List and Minutes)

Farrell v. Tilton

Dec. 7, 2006 Docket

Complaint

Jan. 16, 2003 Complaint

Review of Health Care Services in California Youth Authority (CYA)

Farrell v. Hickman

Aug. 23, 2003 Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Evaluation of Sex Offender Programs - The California Youth Authority

Farrell v. Hickman

Sept. 23, 2003 Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

Sept. 23, 2003 Complaint

Consent Decree

Farrell v. Allen

Nov. 8, 2003 Settlement Agreement

Education Program Review of California Youth Authority

Farrell v. Hickman

Dec. 1, 2003 Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Report of Findings of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Services to Youth in California Youth Authority Facilities

Farrell v. Hickman

Dec. 1, 2003 Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

General Corrections Review of The California Youth Authority

Farrell v. Hickman

Dec. 23, 2003 Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Press Release on Reform of California Youth Authority

Farrell v. Allen

Jan. 31, 2005 Press Release

Resources

Title Description External URL

The IDEA of an Adequate Education for All: Ensuring Success for Incarcerated Youth with Disabilities

Jennifer A. L. Sheldon-Sherman

This article focuses on the education of youth with disabilities in the juvenile justice system, with particular emphasis on the role of litigation in reforming educational services for incarcerated … Jan. 1, 2013 https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3466364

Farrell litigation timeline

Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

18 page timeline of events in the Farrell litigation, 2003-2013. Aug. 1, 2013 http://www.cjcj.org/uploads/cjcj/documents/farrell_litigation_timeline.pdf

Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison

Nell Bernstein

When teenagers scuffle during a basketball game, they are typically benched. But when Will got into it on the court, he and his rival were sprayed in the face at close range by a chemical similar to … June 3, 2014

Ending “Solitary Confinement” of Youth in California

Sue Burrell and Ji Seon Song

This article tells the story of the multi-decade saga leading up to the enactment of legislation limiting solitary confinement of youth in state and local juvenile facilities in California. It encomp… Jan. 1, 2019 http://www.childrenslegalrightsjournal.com/childrenslegalrightsjournal/volume_39_issue_1?folio=88&pg=1#pg1

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: California

Case Type(s):

Juvenile Institution

Special Collection(s):

California's Prisoners' Rights Bar article

Strip Search Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 16, 2003

Closing Date: 2016

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Taxpayer petitioning to stop the use of taxpayer funds to further the allegedly illegal conditions that exist in the California Youth Authority

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Prison Law Office

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

California Youth Authority (CYA), State

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), State

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

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: 2004 - 2016

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Reporting

Monitor/Master

Monitoring

Training

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Access to public accommodations - governmental

Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students

Assault/abuse by staff

Confinement/isolation

Disciplinary procedures

Disciplinary segregation

Education

Effective Communication (ADA)

Excessive force

Failure to train

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Grievance Procedures

Improper treatment of mentally ill suspects

Incident/accident reporting & investigations

Juveniles

Mail

Parents (visitation, involvement)

Phone

Protective custody

Recreation / Exercise

Rehabilitation

Religious programs / policies

Restraints : chemical

Restraints : physical

Sexual abuse by residents/inmates

Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff

Strip search policy

Suicide prevention

Totality of conditions

Visiting

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Affected Gender:

Female

Male

Mental Disability:

Mental Illness, Unspecified

Medical/Mental Health:

Dental care

Medical care, general

Mental health care, general

Suicide prevention

Type of Facility:

Government-run