547 F.2d 1206 (5th Cir. 1977), 75-2792, Williams v. Edwards

Docket Nº75-2792, 75-3883.
Citation547 F.2d 1206
Party NameHayes WILLIAMS et al., Plaintiff-Appellees, v. Edwin EDWARDS, Governor of the State of Louisiana, et al., Defendants- Appellants.
Case DateFebruary 15, 1977
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 1206

547 F.2d 1206 (5th Cir. 1977)

Hayes WILLIAMS et al., Plaintiff-Appellees,

v.

Edwin EDWARDS, Governor of the State of Louisiana, et al.,

Defendants- Appellants.

Nos. 75-2792, 75-3883.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

February 15, 1977

Rehearing Denied March 15, 1977.

Page 1207

Stanford O. Bardwell, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., William J. Guste, Jr., Atty. Gen., Baton Rouge, La., for defendants-appellants.

David L. Morgan, Jr., Luke J. Fontana, Jr., New Orleans, La., for plaintiffs-appellees in Nos. 75-2792 and 75-3883.

David J. Vanderhoof, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., Douglas M. Gonzales, U. S. Atty., Baton Rouge, La., for plaintiffs-appellees in No. 75-2792.

Jessica Dunsay Silver, Dept. of Justice, Brian K. Landsberg, Washington, D.C., for amicus curiae.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Before COLEMAN, AINSWORTH and INGRAHAM, Circuit Judges.

AINSWORTH, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from a District Court decision that prisoner conditions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola violate the Constitution of the United States and certain laws of the State of Louisiana, and from its order that if the prison is to continue

Page 1208

in operation it must be done constitutionally. The court ordered that certain specified and detailed relief, "immediate," "intermediate," and "long-range," be granted "to assure that if the State of Louisiana continues to operate . . . (the Angola Penitentiary), it does so in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the United States of America and in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the State of Louisiana." We affirm, but remand for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

This case originated when four Angola inmates filed actions in 1973 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, naming as defendants the Governor of Louisiana and the Warden of Angola, as well as other Louisiana state officials. 1 In their original complaint and amendments thereto the inmates alleged, among other things, that discrimination against minority inmates was practiced at Angola; that conditions at the prison violated the eighth and fourteenth amendment rights of the prison population as a whole; and that conditions at the prison violated the state fire and sanitation codes.

After the suit was filed the United States intervened on the issue of racial discrimination. Shortly thereafter the District Judge requested the United States to participate as amicus curiae on the other issues as well. The case was heard in December 1973 before a United States Magistrate acting as Special Master. Following unsuccessful attempts to resolve the cause by consent judgment the Special Master submitted his report to the District Court on April 28, 1975. Objections to the report were filed by the parties and heard by the District Judge on May 28, 1975. On June 19, 1975, the District Judge adopted the report of the Special Master without change. The defendants appealed, and asked this Court to stay the District Judge's order pending appeal. We granted a partial stay of the order concerning items pertaining to hiring of additional corrections officers and installation of temporary housing, walls, and/or fencing upon condition that

the appellants make a proper showing to the District Court that they have made reasonable and diligent efforts to comply with the terms of the judgment and order but are unable to do so because necessary funds have not been made available by the State and are not available from any other source, or that it is practically and physically impossible to achieve full compliance for valid and sufficient reasons.

Our order also provided that

pending this appeal the District Court may exercise supervisory jurisdiction as to its judgment and order and in its discretion may grant or deny motions for stay relating to strict compliance with the terms thereof.

The record does not indicate that appellants ever offered to show the District Court the impossibility of compliance, so as to make the partial stay effective.

During the pendency of this appeal the United States moved for emergency relief regarding overcrowding at Angola. On September 5, 1975, the District Judge enjoined the appellants from accepting any new prisoners other than escapees and parole revokees until the Angola inmate population "is no greater than the designed capacity of that facility." The appellants have appealed from that order which has been consolidated with their appeal from the June 19 judgment and order. The consolidated appeal is now before us.

The District Judge found that conditions at Angola "shock the conscience of any right thinking person" and "flagrantly violate basic constitutional requirements as well as applicable State laws," and that "the State authorities, who have the power to do so, are either failing or refusing to take the necessary steps to correct these conditions." He adopted the Special Master's conclusions of law that inmate conditions as a whole at Angola violated the

Page 1209

cruel and unusual punishment prohibition of the eighth amendment, and that the system of medical care at Angola violated the eighth amendment as well as the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. As conditions to the continued operation of Angola the District Judge developed a 15-page list of requirements concerning inmate protection, medical care, maintenance, repair, construction and safety, food and sanitation, racial discrimination and segregation, religious freedom, censorship of mail, conditions of punitive or administrative confinement and procedural due process. As long-range relief he required that the appellants develop and submit within 180 days a plan, including specific timetables and funding plans, for the future constitutional operation of Angola.

Appellants do not challenge the entirety of the District Court's order. Many of the provisions have already been complied with. They do object to portions of the order which they assert are beyond the authority of the District Judge. In particular, they dispute the authority of the District Judge under the eleventh amendment to make an order which they contend requires named officials "to divert funds otherwise appropriated by the Legislature" and requiring, in effect, "compliance by the sovereign state itself" because additional funds would have to be appropriated to comply with portions of the order. Appellants question whether the District Judge's finding of inadequate inmate security rises to constitutional proportions so as to support his requirement that 950 correctional officers be employed at Angola within six months of the order, and that two officers be present inside each inmate dormitory at all times. They also question the District Judge's enforcement of the Louisiana fire and sanitation codes at Angola. They question whether the record supports the District Judge's finding of such severe overcrowding as to require enjoining further acceptance of new inmates, and to require construction of temporary housing, walls and fencing. They contend that the Angola medical care system is not so deficient as to amount to a constitutional violation. They argue that to require submission of a long-range plan within 180 days is unreasonable. Finally, appellants call for the convening of a three-judge district court to decide the issues in this case.

Three-judge court. We find that a three-judge court is not required in this case. Appellants contend that the relief ordered by the District Judge will directly require the expenditure of state funds, and therefore is a " federal decree that . . . legislative appropriations be reallocated or enjoined" requiring a three-judge district court, Wyatt v. Aderholt, 5 Cir., 1974, 503 F.2d 1305, 1318. Appellants' reliance on Aderholt is misplaced. The quoted dictum refers to a hypothetical, direct order of a federal judge that the state budget be revised. The order in the present case is different. It directs only that Angola not be operated at all if it is to be operated in a manner violating constitutional rights. Aderholt does not require a three-judge court under such an order; nor does Sands v. Wainwright, 5 Cir., 1973, 491 F.2d 417 (en banc ), cert. denied, 416 U.S. 992, 94 S.Ct. 2403, 40 L.Ed.2d 771 (1974). See, e. g., Leonard v. Mississippi State Probation & Parole Bd., 5 Cir., 1975, 509 F.2d 820, 822-23; Newman v. Alabama, 5 Cir., 1974, 503 F.2d 1320, 1327.

The gravamen of the defendants' contention that a three-judge court is required in the present case is their assertion that the District Court's order operates to enjoin a Louisiana appropriations statute and the Louisiana prisoner commitment statute. 2

Page 1210

However, the District Judge was careful not to enjoin operation of these statutes. In his Judgment and Order he explicitly addressed only "conditions and practices" in the operation of the prison at Angola. In substance what the District Judge held was that the terrible conditions at Angola, which are not disputed, 3 amount to a constitutional deprivation to its inmates, and that the defendants must comply with proper constitutional standards, which he specified, if the prison is to continue in operation.

To find that no statute or regulation is explicitly challenged does not end this inquiry, however. The "failure to challenge the constitutionality of a specific regulation will not vitiate the need to convene a three judge court, where the relief sought, if granted, would inexorably condemn those promulgated rules and regulations not specifically challenged." Newman v. Alabama, supra, 503 F.2d at 1326-27. In this regard the Supreme Court has said:

It is necessary to distinguish between a petition for injunction on the ground of the unconstitutionality of a statute as applied, which requires a three-judge court, and a petition...

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123 practice notes
  • 683 F.2d 1312 (11th Cir. 1982), 81-7606, Newman v. State of Ala.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
    • August 9, 1982
    ...into the affairs of state prison administration that the Supreme Court has articulated for the federal courts. See Williams v. Edwards, 547 F.2d 1206, 1212 (5th Cir. 1977). Ruiz v. Estelle, 650 F.2d 555, 570-71 (5th Cir. 1981). The consent decree appears to represent the proper balance betw......
  • 756 F.2d 1087 (5th Cir. 1985), 84-4109, Papasan v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • April 5, 1985
    ...ch. 495, Sec. 3(4). [14] The plaintiffs point to such prison condition cases in support of their argument. See, e.g., Williams v. Edward, 547 F.2d 1206, 1213 (5th Cir.1977); Nadeau v. Helgemoe, 561 F.2d 411, 419 n. 7 (1st [15] Miss.Code Ann. Sec. 29-3-1 et seq. (Supp.1983) designates local ......
  • 573 F.2d 118 (2nd Cir. 1978), 618, Wolfish v. Levi
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
    • January 24, 1978
    ...allowed a total of 75 square feet of living space. 21 To meet the needs of sentenced inmates, the Fifth Circuit, in Williams v. Edwards, 547 F.2d 1206, 1215 (5th Cir. 1977), has found 50 square feet of sleeping space adequate. See also Newman v. Alabama, supra, 559 F.2d at 288. 22 In fact, ......
  • 562 F.2d 993 (5th Cir. 1977), 74-3436, Morales v. Turman
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • November 11, 1977
    ...[2] Detailed standards have been used in some cases involving prison conditions. See, e. g., Williams v. Edwards, 5 Cir., 1977, 547 F.2d 1206. But detailed standards may be more appropriate in the context of eighth amendment relief than in the context of a right to treatment. An order that ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
121 cases
  • 683 F.2d 1312 (11th Cir. 1982), 81-7606, Newman v. State of Ala.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
    • August 9, 1982
    ...into the affairs of state prison administration that the Supreme Court has articulated for the federal courts. See Williams v. Edwards, 547 F.2d 1206, 1212 (5th Cir. 1977). Ruiz v. Estelle, 650 F.2d 555, 570-71 (5th Cir. 1981). The consent decree appears to represent the proper balance betw......
  • 756 F.2d 1087 (5th Cir. 1985), 84-4109, Papasan v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • April 5, 1985
    ...ch. 495, Sec. 3(4). [14] The plaintiffs point to such prison condition cases in support of their argument. See, e.g., Williams v. Edward, 547 F.2d 1206, 1213 (5th Cir.1977); Nadeau v. Helgemoe, 561 F.2d 411, 419 n. 7 (1st [15] Miss.Code Ann. Sec. 29-3-1 et seq. (Supp.1983) designates local ......
  • 573 F.2d 118 (2nd Cir. 1978), 618, Wolfish v. Levi
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
    • January 24, 1978
    ...allowed a total of 75 square feet of living space. 21 To meet the needs of sentenced inmates, the Fifth Circuit, in Williams v. Edwards, 547 F.2d 1206, 1215 (5th Cir. 1977), has found 50 square feet of sleeping space adequate. See also Newman v. Alabama, supra, 559 F.2d at 288. 22 In fact, ......
  • 562 F.2d 993 (5th Cir. 1977), 74-3436, Morales v. Turman
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • November 11, 1977
    ...[2] Detailed standards have been used in some cases involving prison conditions. See, e. g., Williams v. Edwards, 5 Cir., 1977, 547 F.2d 1206. But detailed standards may be more appropriate in the context of eighth amendment relief than in the context of a right to treatment. An order that ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
  • Copyrightability of Fictional Characters – the Difference Between Superman and Chessmen
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • February 1, 2021
    ...vehicles could not. See DC Comics v. Towle, 802 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2015); see also Halicki Films, LLC v. Sanderson Sales & Mktg., 547 F.2d 1213 (9th Cir. 2008) (a yellow automobile called “Eleanor” starring in Gone in 60 Seconds displayed consistent, widely identifiable traits and was ......
1 books & journal articles
  • LOUISIANA ANGOLA PENITENTIARY: PAST TIME TO CLOSE.
    • United States
    • Loyola Journal of Public Interest Law Vol. 19 Nbr. 2, March 2018
    • March 22, 2018
    ...does not mean that prison officials have unfettered discretion in the treatment of their prisoners." Id. (302) Williams v. Edwards, 547 F.2d 1206, 1207 (5th Cir. 1977); A subsequent development in the case, Williams v. Treen, 671 F.2d at 894, reported that the original action was broug......