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Case Name Harris v. Cardwell PC-AZ-0005
Docket / Court 75-185 ( D. Ariz. )
State/Territory Arizona
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
This is a Section 1983 action brought by the class of all present and future inmates of the Arizona State Penitentiary at Florence charging unconstitutional conditions relating to crowding and medical care. Plaintiffs were represented by private counsel. This class action commenced in the ... read more >
This is a Section 1983 action brought by the class of all present and future inmates of the Arizona State Penitentiary at Florence charging unconstitutional conditions relating to crowding and medical care. Plaintiffs were represented by private counsel. This class action commenced in the District of Arizona some time in 1975. The file is not very complete; the docket available from PACER dates back only to May 18, 1989 and the file contains only that partial docket and a few court orders. The earliest available court order was filed on September 2, 1977. The court found that due to overcrowding and substandard facilities the plaintiffs' eighth amendment rights were being violated and Judge Carl A. Muecke therefore issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting defendants from allowing the male inmate population at the Arizona State Prison at Florence from exceeding 2,125 until October 3, 1977.

On December 13, 1978, the court ordered the adoption of defendants' proposed plan to improve inmate classification and health care services. As part of this order the court required written reports from defendants regarding implementation of the plan. On May 23, 1979, the court reviewed the implementation of defendants' plan and found it deficient due to lack of quality physician care. The court ordered defendants to address this deficiency and further lower the amount of overcrowding, specifically of maximum-security inmates.

On October 14, 1980, in response to a settlement agreement between the parties, the court expanded the scope of the injunction to require defendants to further decrease overcrowding and improve: classification procedures; health care facilities; work opportunities; and educational facilities for the inmates. As part of the agreement, defendants planned to refrain from: housing more than one inmate per cell; housing in dormitories those inmates classified as maximum custody status; double bunking inmates in dormitories and from providing less than 60 square feet of floor space per inmate in dormitories. The agreement also required defendants to maintain a classification system that ensures all new inmates would be carefully screened and evaluated for proper custodial assignment and program placement. Finally, the court maintained jurisdiction over the matter subject to a hearing to determine defendants' progress in implementing the agreement.

The 1980 judgment was amended on May 26, 1982 to eliminate the requirement that defendants maintain a classification system to regulate the surveillance of inmates. This final amendment also transferred monitoring responsibility from the court to an internal grievance system.

The paper docket is not in the file, and the PACER docket picks up in 1989 with motions by two individual inmates (no counsel) to enforce the judgment; these were dismissed, as were some similar filings in 2003. There are many docket entries between 1989 and 2003 that are not included in the PACER docket. Included among these were Defendants' Motion to Terminate Consent Decree Order [Doc. No. 868] and Plaintiffs' Motion to Re-Open and For Enforcement of Consent Decree and Permanent Injunction [Doc. No. 869], both filed in 1996, neither of which was ruled upon. In an order dated October 26, 2005, prompted by some of the individual inmate filings, Judge McNamee denied those two long-pending motions without prejudice.

On November 23, 2005, the case was reassigned to Judge Susan R. Bolton. She issued an order (dated December 6, 2006) calling for a status report by the parties. In response, the state filed a new motion to terminate, dated January 22, 2007. This motion explained the prior background of the case, and argued that the facts and law had changed significantly since 1982. In particular, the defendants argued that the enactment of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (PLRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3626 justified the termination of relief in the Amended Judgment. The plaintiffs opposed the motion, arguing that the Amended Judgment contained preliminary findings of constitutional violations and the court was required to determine whether constitutional violations were ongoing before granting termination of the relief.

On August 31, 2007, the District Court (Judge Bolton) issued an order granting defendants' motion to terminate the relief on the grounds that the Amended Judgments contained no constitutional violations and thus the PLRA "immediate termination" provisions applied. The court held that prospective relief, in the absence of a prior finding of the violation of a federal right, must be terminated immediately.

Eoghan Keenan - 04/17/2005
David Cho - 11/10/2014

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Crowding / caseload
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
Administrative segregation
Classification / placement
Disciplinary segregation
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Library (non-law) access
Personal injury
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Arizona State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description all present and future inmates of the Arizona State Penitentiary at Florence
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1978 - 2007
Filed 03/26/1975
Case Closing Year 2007
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment
Date: 2010
By: Mona Lynch (UC Irvine Faculty)
Citation: (2010)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Ariz.
PC-AZ-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Ariz.
PC-AZ-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
PC-AZ-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
Order on Population Limits
PC-AZ-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
PC-AZ-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
Stipulation and Order Re Amendment of State's Plan on Medical Care
PC-AZ-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
PC-AZ-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
PC-AZ-0005-0007.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
Amended Judgment
PC-AZ-0005-0008.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
Order [ECF# 906]
PC-AZ-0005-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Ariz.
Defendant's Motion [to terminate prospective relief] [ECF# 922]
PC-AZ-0005-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Ariz.
Order Granting Motion to Terminate Prospective Relief [ECF# 945]
PC-AZ-0005-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Bolton, Susan Ritchie (D. Ariz.) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0005-0010 | PC-AZ-0005-9000
McNamee, Stephen M. (D. Ariz.) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0005-0011 | PC-AZ-0005-9000 | PC-AZ-0005-9000
Muecke, Charles Andrew (D. Ariz.) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0005-0001 | PC-AZ-0005-0002 | PC-AZ-0005-0003 | PC-AZ-0005-0004 | PC-AZ-0005-0005 | PC-AZ-0005-0006 | PC-AZ-0005-0007 | PC-AZ-0005-0008
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bendheim, Alice L. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Hawkins, Michael Daly (Arizona) show/hide docs
Hentoff, Nicholas Simon (Arizona) show/hide docs
Lewis, Frank (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0005-0003 | PC-AZ-0005-0006 | PC-AZ-0005-0007 | PC-AZ-0005-0008 | PC-AZ-0005-9000
Pochoda, Daniel Joseph (Arizona) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Brodsky, Michael L. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Corbin, Robert K. (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0005-0005 | PC-AZ-0005-0007 | PC-AZ-0005-0008
DeLange, Darrin J. (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0005-0012 | PC-AZ-0005-9000
Goddard, Terry (Arizona) show/hide docs
Morrow, James Russel (Arizona) show/hide docs
Prose, Thomas (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0005-0003 | PC-AZ-0005-0005 | PC-AZ-0005-0006 | PC-AZ-0005-0007 | PC-AZ-0005-0008 | PC-AZ-0005-9000
Teply, R. Elizabeth (Arizona) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Johns, Michael A. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Loss, James (Arizona) show/hide docs
McNamee, Stephen M. (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0005-0011 | PC-AZ-0005-9000 | PC-AZ-0005-9000

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