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Case Name Kaiser v. County of Sacramento JC-CA-0074
Docket / Court 2:91-cv-00300-GGH ( E.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection California Jail Population Caps
Attorney Organization Hadsell, Stormer & Renick
Prisoners Rights Union
Case Summary
On March 12, 1991, prisoners at two Sacramento County jails filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the County of Sacramento. The plaintiffs, represented by the Prisoner Rights Union and by private counsel, brought suit under 42 U.S.C ... read more >
On March 12, 1991, prisoners at two Sacramento County jails filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the County of Sacramento. The plaintiffs, represented by the Prisoner Rights Union and by private counsel, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the constitutionality of their conditions of confinement. Specifically, they alleged problems with overcrowding, failure to provide beds, unequal access for women prisoners, lack of exercise, inadequate access to medical, dental and mental health treatment, and lack of law library access. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

On April 5, 1991, the Court (Judge William B. Shubb) granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the County from sleeping inmates on the floor. The Court (Judge Gregory G. Hollows) partially granted a subsequent motion for a preliminary injunction on June 3, and denied a third motion on August 16. (The substance of the injunction requested in each motion is unclear from the docket.) It mostly denied a fourth motion, in which plaintiffs sought an order compelling the County to give them physical access to the jail law library, on November 20, 1991, but did order the County to post a list of available law materials in the jail's dayrooms. Kaiser v. Cnty. of Sacramento, 780 F. Supp. 1309 (E.D. Cal. 1991).

On December 6, 1991, the Court (Judge Hollows) denied a motion to dismiss by the County and granted a motion by the plaintiffs to certify the case as a class action.

Discovery continued over the course of the following year, with the Court compelling the County to disclose documents and respond to other discovery requests on several occasions and granting an interim award of attorneys' fees and costs to plaintiffs.

On November 17, 1992, plaintiffs requested a settlement conference, and the parties began to work on a settlement with the help of Magistrate Judge John F. Moulds. Discovery disputes continued, and defendants filed a motion for partial summary judgment on December 14. They filed an additional motion for summary judgment on the issue of opportunity to exercise on December 22.

On January 28, 1993, the Court (Judge Hollows) approved a proposed consent decree. Under the terms of the decree, the County agreed that it would not house more than 2,000 prisoners in the main jail, that it would maintain its law library and allow access on reasonable notice, that it would assign female prisoners to the main jail as workers on a voluntary basis only, and that it would provide regular access to medical and dental care and regular opportunities to exercise. The County also agreed to pay $140,000 in attorneys' fees.

The Court entered final judgment on March 3, 1993.

On July 15, 1998, the County moved to terminate or amend the consent decree. The parties agreed to an amendment, the content of which is unclear from the docket, on August 31, 1998.

The County moved again to amend the consent decree on October 17, 2008, seeking to replace the law library with a contracted legal research service and to allow psychiatric patients to be housed at one of the facilities covered by the decree. The Court (Judge Hollows) granted the motion as to the housing of psychiatric patients on October 27, 2009. The consent decree was further modified on March 7, 2013, removing books from the law library and replacing them with computers. Inmates objected to this modification, stating that some inmates did not know how to use computers. The Court held that this objection was not an issue because computerized research is similar to using an index to search for relevant materials. In the same holding, the Court denied a class member's motion to intervene. On July 16th, 2013, the case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge William B. Shubb and U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Hollows. As of February 7, 2020, there has been no further activity in this case.

Christopher Schad - 07/10/2012
Maurice Youkanna - 07/05/2014
Christiana Johnson - 02/07/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
Sex discrimination
Conditions of confinement
Law library access
Recreation / Exercise
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) County of Sacramento
Sheriff John McGinness
Plaintiff Description Prisoners at the Sacramento County Jail and the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Hadsell, Stormer & Renick
Prisoners Rights Union
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1993 - n/a
Filed 03/12/1991
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
E.D. Cal.
JC-CA-0074-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Cal.
Amended Order [Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction Ordering Prisoners Be Given Physical Access to the Law Library] [ECF# 101] (780 F.Supp. 1309)
JC-CA-0074-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
E.D. Cal.
Consent Decree [ECF# 216]
JC-CA-0074-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Cal.
Order Amending Consent Decree [ECF# 265]
JC-CA-0074-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Cal.
Order Amending Consent Decree [ECF# 268]
JC-CA-0074-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hollows, Gregory G. (E.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-CA-0074-0001 | JC-CA-0074-0002 | JC-CA-0074-0003 | JC-CA-0074-0005 | JC-CA-0074-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Comiskey, Paul Wayne (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0074-0001 | JC-CA-0074-9000
Derevan, Richard (California) show/hide docs
Fabricant, Deborah (California) show/hide docs
Herman, Richard P. (California) show/hide docs
Katz, Stewart Lee (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0074-0002 | JC-CA-0074-9000
Klein, S. Lynne (California) show/hide docs
Merin, Mark E. (California) show/hide docs
Persons, Paul Turner (California) show/hide docs
Stormer, Dan Lewis (California) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Elam, Lee B. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0074-0001 | JC-CA-0074-9000
Kaiser, Steven (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0074-0001 | JC-CA-0074-9000
Wood, James Randall (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0074-0002 | JC-CA-0074-9000
Wright, Anthony Lawrence (California) show/hide docs

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