Beaver v. Chaffee, No. 49116

CourtCourt of Appeals of Kansas
Writing for the CourtBefore FOTH; FOTH
Citation579 P.2d 1217,2 Kan.App.2d 364
PartiesWinslow BEAVER and Kenneth E. Goodman, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Appellants, v. F. T. (Jim) CHAFFEE, Sheriff of Shawnee County, Kansas, and Roland G. Hug, Robert D. Wellshear, and Mary L. Bogart, Commissioners of Shawnee County, Kansas, and Robert R. Raines, Secretary of Corrections, State of Kansas, Appellees.
Decision Date09 June 1978
Docket NumberNo. 49116

Page 1217

579 P.2d 1217
2 Kan.App.2d 364
Winslow BEAVER and Kenneth E. Goodman, Individually and on
behalf of all others similarly situated, Appellants,
v.
F. T. (Jim) CHAFFEE, Sheriff of Shawnee County, Kansas, and
Roland G. Hug, Robert D. Wellshear, and Mary L. Bogart,
Commissioners of Shawnee County, Kansas, and Robert R.
Raines, Secretary of Corrections, State of Kansas, Appellees.
No. 49116.
Court of Appeals of Kansas.
June 9, 1978.

Page 1218

Syllabus by the Court

1. While habeas corpus is an appropriate vehicle for inquiring into conditions of confinement or mistreatment of a continuing nature of an inmate of a penal institution, it is not the exclusive remedy for an inmate who does not challenge the fact or duration of his confinement.

2. Where an inmate of a jail or correctional institution challenges the conditions of his confinement but does not challenge the fact or duration of that confinement relief may be sought by way of injunction or declaratory judgment as well as by habeas corpus.

3. Where administrative remedies are available they must be exhausted before resort may be had to the courts, but where such remedies are not available, or are inadequate to address the problem in issue, exhaustion is not required.

4. In order for the exhaustion doctrine to apply there must be a remedy provided through administrative action, and there can be no remedy in this connection where the action of the agency amounts to no more than a recommendation.

5. The mere possession by some official body of a continuing supervisory or investigatory power does not itself suffice to afford an "administrative remedy" unless the statute or regulation under which that power is exercised establishes clearly defined machinery for submission, evaluation, and resolution of complaints by aggrieved parties.

Page 1219

6. A class action is an appropriate vehicle for the resolution of issues common to all inmates of a county jail, although it is not appropriate for issues which depend on the particular circumstances of an individual inmate.

7. The fact that the named representatives of a class consisting of jail inmates are transferred from the jail to another institution while an action is pending does not render the action moot as to other members of the class so long as the other requirements of K.S.A. 60-223(b ) are met.

8. [2 Kan.App.2d 365] In a class action on behalf of inmates of the Shawnee county jail challenging the conditions of their confinement, it is held : (a) an action for declaratory and injunctive relief is an appropriate remedy; (b) there were no available and effective remedies which plaintiffs were required to exhaust; (c) a class action was proper as to those complaints which were common to all inmates of a jail; and (d) the action was not rendered moot by the transfer of the named class representatives to other institutions.

Thomas M. Blumenthal, of Legal Aid Society, Topeka, for appellants.

Joseph W. Zima, Topeka, for appellee F. T. (Jim) Chaffee.

Frank L. Johnson and Donna Voth, Topeka, for the commissioners of Shawnee county, appellees.

Curt T. Schneider, Atty. Gen., and Roger M. Theis, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee Robert L. Raines.

Before FOTH, C. J., and SPENCER, and SWINEHART, JJ.

FOTH, Chief Judge:

This is a class action on behalf of inmates of the Shawnee county jail challenging the conditions of their confinement. Defendants are the sheriff and commissioners of Shawnee county, who are directly charged by statute with operating and maintaining the jail, and the state secretary of corrections, who has certain jurisdiction over sanitary and safety conditions in all jails under K.S.A. 75-5228. The trial court dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction, and the plaintiffs have appealed.

The action had its genesis in two separate habeas corpus actions filed in 1974 by the named plaintiffs, Winslow Beaver and Kenneth E. Goodman. At the request of the trial court the Legal Aid Society of Topeka, Inc. assumed the representation of plaintiffs. A new petition was filed in December, 1974, with both plaintiffs purporting to represent all past, present and future jail inmates, as a class under K.S.A. 60-223. The relief sought was declaratory and injunctive in nature. The actions were consolidated, and on June 19, 1975, the trial court sustained plaintiffs' motion for class certification.

The next year and a half were consumed in discovery. During this time all judges of the Shawnee county district court disqualified themselves, and the case was assigned to the Honorable Ronald D. Innes, of Manhattan.

An amended petition was filed by leave of court in February, 1977, containing a shotgun blast of some 58 separately numbered "factual claims." With some effort these may be roughly categorized into a half-dozen overlapping areas: (1) The physical [2 Kan.App.2d 366] facilities were alleged to be inadequate, resulting in overcrowding and conditions hazardous to health and safety. (2) The jail's personnel are said to be inadequate in number, training and ethnic mix, resulting in beatings and sexual assaults among the inmates. (3) It is claimed that the inmates are not properly classified and segregated, particularly by age and sex, and are not afforded proper exercise or programs aimed at vocational training or other types of rehabilitation. (4) The food is said to be of poor quality, poorly prepared, and infested with insects and vermin. (5) The policies and procedures for governing the jail are alleged to be vague, and not properly followed anyway, resulting in harsh and arbitrary discipline. (6) It is alleged that inmate mail is improperly censored, and facilities for attorney-client conferences are inadequate.

Page 1220

The list is not all-inclusive, but covers the main areas of complaint. The first five are said to result in cruel and unusual punishment, the last to impinge on inmates' rights of free speech and to counsel.

After all defendants had answered the amended petition the court on its own motion dismissed the action, concluding: that it had no jurisdiction of the subject matter; that because the named plaintiffs were no longer in the jail they were not proper representatives of the plaintiff class; and that the nature of the action was such that it should not be certified as a class action. The court's reasoning was:

"1. Habeas corpus is the appropriate remedy for inquiry by the courts into the care and treatment of prisoners in county jails.

"2. As a prerequisite to any inquiry by the courts, a plaintiff who complains of care and treatment that is of a continuing nature and absent allegations of mistreatment which might or results in imminent physical harm, injury, or death, must allege and show that existing administrative remedies have been exhausted.

"3. The transitory nature of a county jail, as well as, the changing conditions as same relate to the care and treatment of prisoners, preclude inquiry by the Court even after the exhaustion of administrative remedies, by way of class actions, since the requirement of K.S.A. 60-223(b)(3) are not met. The questions of law and fact common to the class would and should not predominate over any questions affecting an individual member. A resolution of the issues by way of class action might well affect the interest of an individual in prosecuting a separate action. Specifically, the Court could foresee a member of the class seeking habeas corpus relief by the use of that extraordinary remedy and being thus barred or inhibited by a previous or pending resolution of the same issue raised in the class action.

"4. Former prisoners of a county jail are no longer members of or representatives[2 Kan.App.2d 367] of the class of prisoners presently incarcerated in a county jail and are not proper representative parties so as to seek injunctive or declaratory relief as to the care and treatment of the class of prisoners remaining."

We are unable to agree fully with the trial court's conclusions and reasoning. In particular, we feel the result reached does not adequately distinguish between complaints which are peculiar to a particular inmate, depending on that inmate's own circumstances, and those which are common to all inmates regardless of their circumstances. This lack of discrimination appears first in the petition, of course, where the scattergun approach tends to...

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12 practice notes
  • Mitchem v. Melton, No. 15136
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 12, 1981
    ...rel. Saunders v. Creamer, 464 Pa. 2, 345 A.2d 702 (1975); Terry v. Kolski, 78 Wis.2d 475, 254 N.W.2d 704 (1977). In Beaver v. Chaffee, 2 Kan.App.2d 364, 579 P.2d 1217 (1978), the court recognized that habeas corpus was not the only means of testing conditions of confinement and sanctioned t......
  • Cochran v. State , No. 102,498.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • March 25, 2011
    ...to provide that if one has no administrative remedies available there is no additional requirement of “exhaustion.” Beaver v. Chaffee, 2 Kan.App.2d 364, 369, 579 P.2d 1217 (1978), cited with approval, In re Habeas Corpus Application of Pierpoint, 271 Kan. 620, 624, 24 P.3d 128 (2001); see 2......
  • Zarda v. State, No. 66203
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • February 28, 1992
    ...is the same--there would be no purpose served by requiring plaintiffs to exhaust administrative procedures. See Beaver v. Chaffee, 2 Kan.App.2d 364, 369, 579 P.2d 1217 (1978) (jail conditions). Here, plaintiffs argue that there are no issues requiring the expertise of BOTA. We do not Althou......
  • In re Habeas Corpus Application of Pierpoint, No. 86,079.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • June 1, 2001
    ...Pierpoint had a right to be represented by a retained attorney in the disciplinary hearing in Case No. 99-2220. In Beaver v. Chaffee, 2 Kan. App.2d 364, 579 P.2d 1217 (1978), inmates of the Shawnee County jail challenged the conditions of confinement in a class action suit. The action had i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Mitchem v. Melton, No. 15136
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 12, 1981
    ...rel. Saunders v. Creamer, 464 Pa. 2, 345 A.2d 702 (1975); Terry v. Kolski, 78 Wis.2d 475, 254 N.W.2d 704 (1977). In Beaver v. Chaffee, 2 Kan.App.2d 364, 579 P.2d 1217 (1978), the court recognized that habeas corpus was not the only means of testing conditions of confinement and sanctioned t......
  • Cochran v. State , No. 102,498.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • March 25, 2011
    ...to provide that if one has no administrative remedies available there is no additional requirement of “exhaustion.” Beaver v. Chaffee, 2 Kan.App.2d 364, 369, 579 P.2d 1217 (1978), cited with approval, In re Habeas Corpus Application of Pierpoint, 271 Kan. 620, 624, 24 P.3d 128 (2001); see 2......
  • Zarda v. State, No. 66203
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • February 28, 1992
    ...is the same--there would be no purpose served by requiring plaintiffs to exhaust administrative procedures. See Beaver v. Chaffee, 2 Kan.App.2d 364, 369, 579 P.2d 1217 (1978) (jail conditions). Here, plaintiffs argue that there are no issues requiring the expertise of BOTA. We do not Althou......
  • In re Habeas Corpus Application of Pierpoint, No. 86,079.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • June 1, 2001
    ...Pierpoint had a right to be represented by a retained attorney in the disciplinary hearing in Case No. 99-2220. In Beaver v. Chaffee, 2 Kan. App.2d 364, 579 P.2d 1217 (1978), inmates of the Shawnee County jail challenged the conditions of confinement in a class action suit. The action had i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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