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Case Name Criswell v. Boudreaux JC-CA-0144
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-01048 ( E.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU of Northern California
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This constitutional action was filed on July 29, 2020 by inmates in Tulare County in California seeking improved safety and health conditions in light of COVID-19. The court granted part of the plaintiffs' temporary restraining order and provisional class certification on ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This constitutional action was filed on July 29, 2020 by inmates in Tulare County in California seeking improved safety and health conditions in light of COVID-19. The court granted part of the plaintiffs' temporary restraining order and provisional class certification on September 2, 2020. However, on December 23, 2020 the court denied to certify the class and enter a preliminary injunction.


On July 29, 2020, plaintiffs, four incarcerated individuals in custody of the Tulare County Sheriff's Office and criminal defense advocacy nonprofit, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, filed this case against Sheriff Michael Boudreaux in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The plaintiffs alleged that the Sheriff's Office violated the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and California Civil Code § 52.1(b), known as the "Bane Act", in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The case was assigned to Judge Dale A. Drozd.

Specifically, under the Fourteenth Amendment, Plaintiffs alleged that Boudreaux violated their right to be free from punitive conditions of confinement by recklessly failing to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, with deliberate indifference toward inmates' health. Under the Eighth Amendment, Plaintiffs alleged that the conditions in the jail posed an unreasonable risk of serious damage to their health and that jail officials acted with deliberate indifference to these risks. Plaintiffs also alleged that Defendants' COVID-19 response violated their First Amendment Right to petition the government for redress of grievances, Fourteenth Amendment right to access courts, and Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel. Finally, under the Bane Act, Plaintiffs argued that Sheriff Boudreaux interfered or attempted to interfere, unlawfully, with the rights of the Plaintiffs to access courts and defense counsel.

Plaintiffs brought their action as a proposed class consisting of all people, at the time of the complaint and from then onward, incarcerated in Tulare County Jails. They divided the class into subclasses: (i) persons confined pre-trial, (ii) persons confined pursuant to a judgment of conviction, and (iii) Medically Vulnerable persons confined pre-trial and pursuant to a judgment of conviction. Plaintiffs claimed that the number of people in the proposed class (at least 1,900), the commonality of the issues of the sheriff's COVID-19 response, and the fact that the Plaintiffs' claims are typical of those of the rest of the class supported certification.

On August 12, Plaintiffs requested a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction or writ of habeas corpus. As part of the proposed injunctive relief, plaintiffs requested that Boudreaux take action to release "Medically Vulnerable" people that did not pose serious flight risk or danger to others. Plaintiffs also requested that an expert be appointed to make recommendations about which inmates should be released and to ensure that the remaining inmates were able to be housed safely under CDC guidelines. The plaintiffs also requested comprehensive COVID-19 testing and tracing, as well as access to remote counsel and court. To combat hygiene problems at the jail, plaintiffs requested access to hand soap and washing, face coverings, paper towels, toilet paper, running water, facial tissue, hand sanitizer, daily showers, temperature checks, and non-punitive quarantine settings. They also requested improved cleaning of surfaces, prompt medical attention for emergencies, and access to clean laundry.

On September 2, 2020, the court granted the plaintiffs' application for provisional class certification and part of their requested temporary restraining order. 2020 WL 5235675. The court found that the plaintiffs' proposed class was sufficiently numerous, that the conduct of the defendants alleged in the complaint was sufficiently common to all of the proposed class members, and that the representative plaintiffs' claims were sufficiently typical to the rest of the proposed class members. In granting part of the plaintiffs' requested temporary restraining order, the court found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of each of their constitutional claims, as well as their claim under the Bane Act. The court concluded that the plaintiffs showed a likelihood that they would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of injunctive relief and that the balance of the equities and public interest weighed in their interest against the defendant.

Although the court granted the plaintiffs' requested temporary restraining order, the injunctive relief did not include a requirement that all inmates and staff be immediately tested for COVID-19. Instead, the court required that the defendant develop written policies of COVID-19 related issues. These required policies included a plan to limit contact between incarcerated people in common areas, the provision and requirement of masks in the jails, and a report of COVID-19 testing to date. The injunctive relief also required that plaintiffs have the ability to promptly and confidentially communicate with counsel over video calls, that the legal visitation policy be revised, and that no retaliation happen against plaintiffs who speak with counsel at the jails.

On October 6, 2020, Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone ordered that the defendant file a responsive pleading within ten days.

On November 2, 2020, plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification, and on November 3, 2020, plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction to enforce necessary COVID precautions such as testing and appropriate social distancing. A hearing was held on December 2, 2020, to discuss the motion for preliminary injunction, and on December 23, 2020 both the motions for class certification and for preliminary injunction were denied.

Discovery continues and the case is ongoing.

Nicholas Gillan - 11/03/2020
Tessa McEvoy - 03/26/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Granted
Mitigation Requested
Release Requested
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Law-enforcement
General
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Sheriff of Tulare County
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice three incarcerated individuals in the custody of the Tulare County Sheriff's Office, acting on behalf of a class of similarly situated incarcerated individuals
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU of Northern California
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 07/29/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
E.D. Cal.
02/26/2021
1:20-cv-01048-DAD-SAB
JC-CA-0144-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Cal.
07/29/2020
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 1 & 1-1 to 1-4]
JC-CA-0144-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Cal.
08/12/2020
Notice of Application and Ex Parte Application for Provisional Class Certification [Application for Provisional Class Certification] [ECF# 10]
JC-CA-0144-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Cal.
08/12/2020
Plaintiffs' Ex Parte Notice of Motion and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and OSC RE: Preliminary Injunction; Memorandum of Points and Authorities [ECF# 11]
JC-CA-0144-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Cal.
09/02/2020
Order Granting Application for Provisional Class Certification and Granting Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, in Part [ECF# 26] (2020 WL 5235675)
JC-CA-0144-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Cal.
10/06/2020
Order Requiring Defendant to File Responsive Pleading [ECF# 33]
JC-CA-0144-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Cal.
11/02/2020
Notice of Motion and Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 43]
JC-CA-0144-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Cal.
11/03/2020
Notice of Motion and Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Osc Re: Permanent Injunction [ECF# 44]
JC-CA-0144-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Cal.
12/23/2020
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Provisional Class Certification and Motion for a Preliminary Injunction without Prejudice [ECF# 55] (2020 WL 7646405)
JC-CA-0144-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Boone, Stanley A. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0005 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Drozd, Dale Alan (E.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0004 | JC-CA-0144-0008 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Agarwal, Shilpi (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Decker, Anne Orelind (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-9000
Gilbert, Amy Rose (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-0002 | JC-CA-0144-0003 | JC-CA-0144-0006 | JC-CA-0144-0007 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Guneratne, Kathleen (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-0002 | JC-CA-0144-0003 | JC-CA-0144-0006 | JC-CA-0144-0007 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Harding, Lauren M (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0006 | JC-CA-0144-0007 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Kreilkamp, Jacob S. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-0002 | JC-CA-0144-0003 | JC-CA-0144-0006 | JC-CA-0144-0007 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Lemoine, Melinda Eades (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Marquis, Estalyn S. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-0002 | JC-CA-0144-0003 | JC-CA-0144-0006 | JC-CA-0144-0007 | JC-CA-0144-9000
McDermott, Sara A. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-0002 | JC-CA-0144-0003 | JC-CA-0144-0006 | JC-CA-0144-0007 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Noureldin, Omar Hamdy (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-0002 | JC-CA-0144-0003 | JC-CA-0144-0006 | JC-CA-0144-0007 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Temko, William D. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-0002 | JC-CA-0144-0003 | JC-CA-0144-0006 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Teshuva, Ariel Tal (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-0001 | JC-CA-0144-0002 | JC-CA-0144-0003 | JC-CA-0144-0006 | JC-CA-0144-0007 | JC-CA-0144-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Pisano, Christopher M. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-9000
Taylor, Kathleen A. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0144-9000

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