869 F.2d 461 (9th Cir. 1989), 87-3800, Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections

Docket Nº87-3800, 87-3959.
Citation869 F.2d 461
Party NameWalter D. BALLA, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. IDAHO STATE BOARD OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants-Appellees. Walter D. BALLA, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. IDAHO STATE BOARD OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Case DateMarch 03, 1989
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 461

869 F.2d 461 (9th Cir. 1989)

Walter D. BALLA, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

IDAHO STATE BOARD OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Walter D. BALLA, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

IDAHO STATE BOARD OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 87-3800, 87-3959.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

March 3, 1989

Argued and Submitted Sept. 16, 1988.

Page 462

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 463

Stephen L. Pevar, American Civil Liberties Union, Denver, Colo., for plaintiffs-appellants-cross-appellees.

Robert R. Gates, Deputy Atty. Gen., State of Idaho, Boise, Idaho, for defendants-appellees-cross-appellants.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Idaho.

Before WRIGHT, WALLACE and HUG, Circuit Judges.

WALLACE, Circuit Judge:

In these consolidated appeals, Balla and a class of prisoners (prisoners) incarcerated in Idaho appeal from the denial of their motions for contempt and for reconsideration. The prisoners contend that the district court (1) employed the wrong order as a benchmark against which to judge the compliance of the Idaho State Board of Corrections (Board) for purposes of their contempt motion, (2) erroneously denied their motion for contempt, and (3) erroneously denied their motion to reconsider. In its cross-appeal, the Board challenges the district court's refusal to grant an extension of time to comply with a court-ordered population cap. The Board also contests the district court's legal conclusion that Idaho Code Sec. 20-223 requires the state to provide a treatment program for sex offenders. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291. We affirm the district court's denial of the prisoners' motions for contempt and for reconsideration. We also affirm the district court's refusal to grant an extension of time to the Board. We reverse the district court's conclusion that Idaho Code Sec. 20-223 requires a treatment program.

I

In 1981, the prisoners brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 against the Board and various prison officials. They alleged a range of unconstitutional conditions of confinement in the Idaho State Correctional Institution, main site (prison), which is located south of Boise, Idaho. The prisoners sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages. Trial before the district judge lasted 13 days.

On November 1, 1984, the district court issued an opinion and order holding that prison conditions violated the eighth and fourteenth amendments. Balla v. Idaho State Board of Corrections, 595 F.Supp. 1558 (D.Idaho 1984) (Balla I ). In the section of its opinion dealing with psychiatric care, the court adopted six "essential" components of a mental health treatment program required by the Constitution. Id. at 1576-77. The court also held that Idaho Code Sec. 20-223, the state's statutory parole scheme, required the Board to establish a treatment program for sex offenders. Id. at 1577-78. At the end of its opinion, the court issued a skeletal order requiring the Board to submit in writing within 180 days a plan that would meet the six constitutional minimum standards and would embody the required sex offender program. Id. at 1583.

The district court held a compliance hearing on June 27 and 28, 1985. It issued an

Page 464

order on July 11, 1985, which reviewed the adequacy of the Board's plans, adopted in full the plan for providing psychiatric care, adopted with one modification the plan for treating sex offenders, and ordered implementation by October 1, 1985.

On October 10, 1985, the prisoners filed a motion for contempt. A hearing was held on July 29, 1986. The district court denied the prisoners' contempt motion on August 18, 1986, in an order which also closed to relitigation all issues except overcrowding. The prisoners brought a motion for reconsideration on August 27, 1986, and it was denied on December 12, 1986. On March 25, 1987, the district court issued a second opinion holding that double celling in the prison violated the Constitution. Balla v. Board of Corrections, 656 F.Supp. 1108 (D.Idaho 1987) (Balla II ). On April 3, 1987, the Board filed a Rule 59 motion to alter or amend the judgment. The court granted in part and denied in part this motion on May 20, 1987.

II

In their appeal, the prisoners maintain that the district court erroneously denied their motions for contempt and for reconsideration. We review the denial of a motion for contempt for abuse of discretion. General Signal Corp. v. Donallco, Inc., 787 F.2d 1376, 1379 (9th Cir.1986) (Donallco ). We also review a denial of a proper motion for reconsideration under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) for abuse of discretion. Coastal Transfer Co. v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., 833 F.2d 208, 211 (9th Cir.1987) (Coastal Transfer ); Swimmer v. IRS, 811 F.2d 1343, 1345 (9th Cir.1987); see also Frederick S. Wyle P.C. v. Texaco, Inc., 764 F.2d 604, 608 (9th Cir.1985) ("manifest" abuse of discretion standard); Walker v. Bank of America National Trust & Savings Association, 268 F.2d 16, 25 (9th Cir.) (same) (Walker ), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 903, 80 S.Ct. 211, 4 L.Ed.2d 158 (1959).

A.

Before we can address whether the district court erred in denying the prisoners' motion for contempt, we must face a threshold issue: Which court order should the district court have used to measure the Board's compliance for purposes of the prisoners' contempt motion? The Board argues that the district court properly measured compliance against its July 11, 1985, order, which approved and incorporated concrete plans for compliance with the November 1, 1984, opinion. The prisoners argue that the benchmark for compliance should have been Balla I, the November 1, 1984, opinion and order. The answer to this question depends upon the legal relationship between the November 1 and the July 11 decisions. Since this is a purely legal question, we review it independently. United States v. McConney, 728 F.2d 1195, 1201 (9th Cir.) (en banc) (McConney ), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 824, 105 S.Ct. 101, 83 L.Ed.2d 46 (1984).

The district court's November 1 opinion and order was interlocutory in nature. Because it did not resolve all the issues as to all the parties on the merits, leaving nothing to be done but to execute the judgment, this order was not a "final" order under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291. Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U.S. 463, 467, 98 S.Ct. 2454, 2457, 57 L.Ed.2d 351 (1978) (Coopers & Lybrand ). The order contained a declaration of legal principles as well as a skeletal order requiring the Board to "submit a plan in writing within one hundred eighty (180) days ... which will establish a psychiatric care program [including a sex offender treatment program] for the inmates" as required by the opinion's conclusions of law. Balla I, 595 F.Supp. at 1583. This relief was, by its own terms, incomplete. Although our court has not addressed this issue, other circuits have ruled that court orders which require the submission of detailed plans are not final orders appealable under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291. See, e.g., Sherpell v. Humnoke School District No. 5 of Lonoke County, 814 F.2d 538, 539-40 (8th Cir.1987) (order finding school environment racially discriminatory and ordering formation of biracial committee as well as formulation and submission of remedial plans not appealable under section 1291); Groseclose v. Dutton,

Page 465

788 F.2d 356, 358-61 (6th Cir.1986) (per curiam) (court order finding death row conditions unconstitutional and ordering nomination of a master and submission of a remedial plan not a final judgment); Liddell v. Board of Education of City of St. Louis, 693 F.2d 721, 722-23 (8th Cir.1981) ("A district court order requiring submission of a plan, without more, is not appealable.") (footnote omitted); Spates v. Manson, 619 F.2d 204, 208-11 (2d Cir.1980) (order finding unconstitutional denial of library access and ordering submission of a plan, yet not mandating content of plan, held not appealable); Taylor v. Board of Education, 288 F.2d 600, 601-02 (2d Cir.1961) (order directing school board to submit desegregation plan not appealable) (Taylor ); but cf. United States v. Alabama, 828 F.2d 1532, 1536-38 (11th Cir.1987) (per curiam) (where order requiring submission of plans is itself detailed, specific, and comprehensive, it is appealable under Sec. 1291), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 108 S.Ct. 2857, 101 L.Ed.2d 894 (1988).

Courts have inherent power to modify their interlocutory orders before entering a final judgment. Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. v. United States, 320 U.S. 1, 47-48, 63 S.Ct. 1393, 1414-15, 87 L.Ed. 1731 (1943); John Simmons Co. v. Grier Brothers Co., 258 U.S. 82, 88, 42 S.Ct. 196, 198, 66 L.Ed. 475 (1922). In addition, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure explicitly grant courts the authority to modify their interlocutory orders. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) (any order which is not certified under Rule 54(b) and which adjudicates fewer than all the claims as to all the parties "is subject to revision at any time before the entry of [final] judgment").

In its memorandum order dated July 11, 1985, the district court explicitly "adopted" the state's plans after ruling that they were "adequate ... for compliance with this court's November Opinion." Thus, the July 11 order operated as a legal modification and completion of the November 1 opinion and order. We hold, therefore, that the district judge properly used the July 11 order as the benchmark for judging the Board's compliance.

Our holding is consistent with settled principles of the law of civil contempt. Civil contempt is appropriate only when a party fails to comply with a court order that is both specific and definite. Gifford v. Heckler, 741 F.2d 263, 265 (9th Cir.1984) (Gifford ). Thus, to support a contempt motion, the order alleged to have been disobeyed must be sufficiently specific. International...

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  • 964 F.2d 980 (10th Cir. 1992), 91-2027, Jackson by Jackson v. Fort Stanton Hosp. and Training School
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
    • May 18, 1992
    ...plan orders generally do not constitute final orders appealable under § 1291. See Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Page 988 Corrections, 869 F.2d 461, 464-65 (9th Cir.1989); Sherpell v. Humnoke Sch. Dist. No. 5, 814 F.2d 538, 539-40 (8th Cir.1987); Groseclose v. Dutton, 788 F.2d 356, 358-61 (6th......
  • 370 B.R. 259 (Bkrtcy.C.D.Cal. 2007), RS 04-19353, In re Count Liberty, LLC
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Ninth Circuit
    • May 4, 2007
    ...(observing that the standard for civil contempt is "clear and convincing evidence"); Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections, 869 F.2d 461, 465 (9th Cir.1989) (stating that civil contempt may be found when a party fails to comply with an order that is both specific and definite)).......
  • 358 P.3d 632 (Ariz.App. Div. 1 2015), 1 CA-CV 13-0651, Jaynes v. McConnell
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • September 15, 2015
    ...after entry of final judgment and that a non-final judgment did not trigger the time limit); Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections, 869 F.2d 461, 466-67 (9th Cir. 1989) (explaining that a final judgment as defined in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) is a prerequisite for a Rule 59 mo......
  • 178 B.R. 480 (9th Cir.BAP (Cal.) 1995), LA-91-61036, In re Advent Management Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Ninth Circuit
    • February 16, 1995
    ...order, it will be merged into any final judgment and may be appealed at that time. See Balla v. Idaho State Board of Corrections, 869 F.2d 461, 468 (9th Cir.1989). A decision not to meet the merits of the partial summary judgment would merely postpone review of the issue, since Taylor was n......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
288 cases
  • 964 F.2d 980 (10th Cir. 1992), 91-2027, Jackson by Jackson v. Fort Stanton Hosp. and Training School
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
    • May 18, 1992
    ...plan orders generally do not constitute final orders appealable under § 1291. See Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Page 988 Corrections, 869 F.2d 461, 464-65 (9th Cir.1989); Sherpell v. Humnoke Sch. Dist. No. 5, 814 F.2d 538, 539-40 (8th Cir.1987); Groseclose v. Dutton, 788 F.2d 356, 358-61 (6th......
  • 370 B.R. 259 (Bkrtcy.C.D.Cal. 2007), RS 04-19353, In re Count Liberty, LLC
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Ninth Circuit
    • May 4, 2007
    ...(observing that the standard for civil contempt is "clear and convincing evidence"); Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections, 869 F.2d 461, 465 (9th Cir.1989) (stating that civil contempt may be found when a party fails to comply with an order that is both specific and definite)).......
  • 358 P.3d 632 (Ariz.App. Div. 1 2015), 1 CA-CV 13-0651, Jaynes v. McConnell
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • September 15, 2015
    ...after entry of final judgment and that a non-final judgment did not trigger the time limit); Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections, 869 F.2d 461, 466-67 (9th Cir. 1989) (explaining that a final judgment as defined in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) is a prerequisite for a Rule 59 mo......
  • 178 B.R. 480 (9th Cir.BAP (Cal.) 1995), LA-91-61036, In re Advent Management Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Ninth Circuit
    • February 16, 1995
    ...order, it will be merged into any final judgment and may be appealed at that time. See Balla v. Idaho State Board of Corrections, 869 F.2d 461, 468 (9th Cir.1989). A decision not to meet the merits of the partial summary judgment would merely postpone review of the issue, since Taylor was n......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
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