Hoptowit v. Spellman

Decision Date12 February 1985
Docket NumberNo. 83-4284,83-4284
Citation753 F.2d 779
PartiesFrederick HOPTOWIT, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. John SPELLMAN, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Timothy K. Ford, American Civil Liberties Union, Richard P. Blumberg, Mark & Blumberg, Seattle, Wash., for plaintiffs-appellees.

William C. Collins, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen., Dept. of Corrections, Olympia, Wash., for defendants-appellants.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

Before DUNIWAY, FERGUSON, and NELSON, Circuit Judges.

DUNIWAY, Circuit Judge:

This is the second appeal in this case. In the prior appeal, Hoptowit v. Ray, 9 Cir., 1982, 682 F.2d 1237 (Hoptowit I ), we affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. Our decision in Hoptowit I is the law of the case, see Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona v. Arizona, 9 Cir., 1983, 718 F.2d 938, 949; Moore v. Jas. H. Matthews & Co., 9 Cir., 1982, 682 F.2d 830, 833-35, and we are required to follow it, absent special considerations that are not present here. In this opinion we assume that the reader is familiar with our decision in Hoptowit I.

I. Failure to Reopen the Record.

After our mandate went down, the trial judge set a date for a hearing on the remanded issues, in November, 1982. Shortly before that hearing, the State had filed a motion for declaratory judgment, asking the court to declare that the penitentiary meets or exceeds the constitutional minima in areas including physical brutality and medical care. At the opening of the hearing the State asked the district court to determine whether or not it was in compliance in those areas. The state also moved for relief from the judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) on the ground that conditions at the penitentiary had improved. The judge allowed the State to file evidence relating to the issue of changed circumstances, but ruled that the appropriate time to consider such evidence would be at a later compliance hearing. He limited the hearing "to enter[ing] an order in conformance with the Ninth Circuit." The judge entered the Order on Remand in May, 1983, and the State appeals.

The State argues that it was error for the district court to refuse to conduct a hearing regarding alleged new defendants and changed circumstances before issuing its order on remand. We hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion.

A. New Defendants.

The State argues that the named defendants have been succeeded by others, and, therefore, the district court erred by failing to conduct a hearing to determine whether the new administration has continued and will continue the unconstitutional practices of its predecessors. The State maintains that such a hearing is required under Mayor of City of Philadelphia v. Education Equality League, 1974, 415 U.S. 605, 94 S.Ct. 1323, 39 L.Ed.2d 630, and Spomer v. Littleton, 1974, 414 U.S. 514, 94 S.Ct. 685, 38 L.Ed.2d 694.

The complaint named as defendants the Governor of the State of Washington, the Secretary of its Department of Social and Health Services (the agency responsible for the operation of the penitentiary at that time), as well as various officials within the Corrections Division of that Department. The complaint named these defendants in both their personal and official capacities. The State says that each of the named defendants has either left office or changed position. It also says that, in 1981, a new Department of Corrections was created to administer the Washington State adult corrections program.

Those changes did not require the district court to reopen the record before issuing its order on remand. First, the two defendants principally responsible for the administration of the penitentiary remain in control; they have simply been promoted. Lawrence Kinchloe, formerly the Associate Superintendent, is now the Superintendent. James Spaulding, formerly the Superintendent, is now the Deputy Director of the Division of Prisons of the new Department of Corrections.

Second, the successors of the named defendants, although not named, are themselves parties by reason of Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(d)(1):

When a public officer is a party to an action in his official capacity and during its pendency dies, resigns or otherwise ceases to hold office, the action does not abate and his successor is automatically substituted as a party.

The State argues that, despite this rule, an injunction cannot be issued against a successor to public office without "supplemental findings of fact indicating that the new officer will continue the practices of his predecessor," Mayor, supra, 415 U.S. at 622, 94 S.Ct. at 1334, citing Spomer, supra. Cases in other circuits have applied the Mayor-Spomer analysis. See Kincaid v. Rusk, 7 Cir., 1982, 670 F.2d 737, 741; A.C.L.U. v. Finch, 5 Cir., 1981, 638 F.2d 1336, 1345-47. But see Santiago v. Corporacion de Renovacion, etc., 1 Cir., 1977, 554 F.2d 1210, 1213. However, Mayor and Spomer involved circumstances quite different from those here. Mayor was "a case devoted exclusively to the personal appointment policies of [the new mayor's] predecessor." Mayor, supra, 415 U.S. at 613, 94 S.Ct. at 1329. Spomer involved alleged racial discrimination by a former State's Attorney. As the Court said, "[t]he wrongful conduct charged in the complaint is personal to [the former official], despite the fact that he was also sued in his then capacity as State's Attorney." Spomer, supra, 414 U.S. at 521, 94 S.Ct. at 689.

In this case, most of the evidence does not relate to the personal conduct of the principal named defendants. In Hoptowit I, we affirmed various findings of fact concerning institutional practices and physical conditions at the penitentiary. These are facts "from which the continuation of the dispute is a reasonable inference," Ciudadanos Unidos de San Juan v. Hidalgo County Grand Jury Commissioners, etc., 5 Cir., 1980, 622 F.2d 807, 822, and not merely "idiosyncratic abuses of the particular members of the outgoing administration," A.C.L.U. v. Finch, supra, 638 F.2d at 1346-47. This case fits squarely within the principle stated in the Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 25(d)(1):

In general it will apply whenever effective relief would call for corrective behavior by the one then having official status and power, rather than the one who has lost that status and power through ceasing to hold office.

Moreover, we do not read the record as showing a fixed determination by the judge that all of the named defendants' successors must be kept in the case as defendants. Rather, we conclude that, at most, the record only shows that the court elected to decide, first, what findings it should make and what conclusions it should reach in the light of our remand in Hoptowit I, and then decide what it should do in response to the successors' arguments. Surely, when two or three motions are presented to a court, it has discretion to decide the order in which it would consider and decide them. A party claiming abuse of that discretion has a heavy burden of persuasion. We do not think that the burden has been met here.

B. Changed Circumstances.

The State argues that the district court abused its discretion by failing to reopen the record in the light of the time which had elapsed between trial (May, 1980) and the Order on Remand (May, 1983) and in the light of alleged improvements at the penitentiary. We disagree.

1. The motion was deficient.

The motion did not comply with the Rules of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. E.D. Local Rule 11(c) requires that a moving party serve and file a memorandum of points and authorities "with the motion " (original italics). The State's motion for Declaratory Judgment was filed before the remand hearing. However, the State did not file its accompanying brief until after the hearing had taken place. Under E.D. Local Rule 11(i),

A failure to timely file a memorandum of points and authorities in support of or in opposition to any motion may be considered by the Court as consent on the part of the party failing to file such memorandum to the entry of an order adverse to counsel in default.

2. The court did not abuse its discretion.

During the hearing the State again raised its claims in a motion for relief from the judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Such a motion is addressed to the discretion of the district court. Martella v. Marine Cooks & Stewards U., 9 Cir., 1971, 448 F.2d 729, 730.

The district court correctly explained that the purpose of the remand hearing was to follow the instructions of this court and order an appropriate remedy for Eighth Amendment violations found at the penitentiary. The court acted within its discretion in refusing to review the State's evidence of alleged compliance until after the issuance of the order on remand.

II. Eighth Amendment Violations.

In its original opinion, the district court found that various aspects of the penitentiary's "old, dilapidated, and ill-maintained" physical plant have "serious health implications." Hoptowit I, 682 F.2d at 1256. More specifically, the district judge found: overcrowding, substandard lighting, unsatisfactory plumbing, substandard fire prevention, substandard food service, vermin infestation, lack of an effective maintenance program, inadequate ventilation, safety hazards in the occupational areas, unavailable or inadequate cell cleaning supplies. We affirmed these findings of fact, except the finding regarding overcrowding. Id.

On the basis of these findings, the district court concluded that "the general condition of [the penitentiary's] physical facilities when considered in their totality ... falls below minimum standards of decency and conditions of confinement and violates [p]laintiffs' Eighth Amendment rights." Id. We reversed this conclusion of law on...

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