Padgett v. Stein, No. 72-487 Civil.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtGordon A. Roe, York County Solicitor, York, Pa., for defendants
Citation406 F. Supp. 287
PartiesHenry PADGETT et al., Plaintiffs, v. Charles A. STEIN, Jr., et al., Defendants.
Decision Date16 December 1975
Docket NumberNo. 72-487 Civil.

406 F. Supp. 287

Henry PADGETT et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Charles A. STEIN, Jr., et al., Defendants.

No. 72-487 Civil.

United States District Court, M. D. Pennsylvania.

December 16, 1975.


406 F. Supp. 288
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
406 F. Supp. 289
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
406 F. Supp. 290
Alan Linder, Jeffry L. Gilbert, Central Pennsylvania Legal Services, York, Pa., for plaintiffs

Gordon A. Roe, York County Solicitor, York, Pa., for defendants.

SHERIDAN, Chief Judge.

This case is before the court on plaintiffs' motion for enforcement of the consent decree entered into by the parties and approved by the court on May 31, 1973.

Plaintiffs — Henry Padgett, Eugene Washington, and William Johnson, inmates at the York County Prison — on behalf of themselves and all other inmates incarcerated at the York County Prison brought this action under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1981, 1983 and the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 2201, 2202, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the defendants — the members of the York County Prison Board,1 Richard J. Hahn, Warden of the York County Prison, William B. Robinson, Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Correction,2 Joseph A. Fecunda, Director of County Correctional Services, Robert P. Kane, Attorney General of Pennsylvania,3 and the Pennsylvania Department of Justice.4 Jurisdiction is properly predicated on 28 U.S.C.A. § 1343. The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to remedy alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the York County Prison. The parties entered into a consent decree, which was approved by the court, in which the defendants agreed with respect to the York County Prison: (1) to comply with the state minimum requirements for county prisons embodied in 37 Pa.Code §§ 95.221-95.248 (adopted April 6, 1973); (2) not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed or national origin with respect to work assignments and not to permit derogatory discriminatory remarks to be made to inmates by correctional personnel; and (3) to permit all inmates visitation of at least ninety minutes per week and visitation with children of at least thirty minutes on Sundays, to allow each inmate a visiting list of eight persons, to guarantee the inmates the right to have one visitor remain for as long as ninety minutes on visiting day, in satisfaction of his weekly visitation allowance, and to modify the visitation facilities to insure more dignity and privacy for visitation.

Plaintiffs contend that the consent decree has not been fully implemented in that the conditions at and the mode of operation of the county prison violate numerous provisions of the state minimum standards for county jails and that

406 F. Supp. 291
the requirements set forth in the consent decree with respect to visitation have not been complied with. There is no allegation that the defendants have violated the consent decree's prohibition on discrimination and derogatory remarks

The court turns first to defendants' contention that plaintiffs' action for enforcement of the consent decree is barred by laches. Plaintiffs argue that the defendants have waived this defense under Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because laches was never asserted as a defense in a responsive pleading or motion by the defendants. Ordinarily, an affirmative defense such as laches is deemed waived if not asserted in a responsive pleading or motion, although the courts have freely granted leave to amend pleadings to include a defense omitted from the original pleading and have often granted relief from waiver under Rule 60(b) or Rule 15(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See 2A Moore, Federal Practice ¶ 12.23. In the instant case, the court holds that there has been no waiver of the defense of laches since one does not plead in response to a motion for enforcement of a consent decree, and where no pleading is required or permitted, there is no waiver.

Laches consists of two elements, unreasonable delay in asserting a claim and prejudice resulting to the defendant from such delay. Gruca v. United States Steel Corporation, 3 Cir. 1974, 495 F.2d 1252; see Gardner v. Panama Railroad Co., 1951, 342 U.S. 29, 72 S.Ct. 12, 96 L.Ed. 31; Czaplicki v. The Hoegh Silvercloud, 1956, 351 U.S. 525, 76 S.Ct. 946, 100 L.Ed. 1387; Gutierrez v. Waterman Steamship Corp., 1963, 373 U.S. 206, 83 S.Ct. 1185, 10 L.Ed.2d 297. The consent decree was approved by the court on May 31, 1973. The motion for enforcement of the consent decree was filed on March 13, 1975. During this period of time defendants undertook to implement the consent decree, and plaintiffs monitored the defendants' activity and attempted to secure full compliance with the agreement. The consent decree provides that this court retains jurisdiction for the purpose of overseeing implementation of the consent decree and until such time as the court determines that the parties are in full compliance therewith. In a letter received by the court on March 12, 1975, the defendants for the first time requested the court to issue an order which declared them to be in compliance with the consent decree. One day later the plaintiffs filed their motion for enforcement of the consent decree. Thus, it is apparent that until March of 1975, defendants were still making changes in the prison in order to achieve full compliance with the agreement, and that plaintiffs were monitoring the actions of the defendants to determine whether any additional legal action on their part would be necessary. The one-year and ten month time period between the approval of the consent decree and the filing of plaintiffs' motion for enforcement thereof is not an unreasonable length of time given the nature of the consent decree and in view of the aforementioned circumstances. There has been no inexcusable delay in seeking enforcement of the agreement, and no real prejudice to the defendants has ensued from the passage of time. Plaintiffs' motion is timely, and the court holds that the motion is not barred by laches.

The defendants also argue that this court should refuse to decide any questions of local and state law — e. g., whether the defendants have complied with the state minimum requirements for county prisons — because this action was brought under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1981, 1983, and, therefore, the court has the power to adjudicate only federal questions. While this argument would be meritorious in the absence of the consent decree — it being a well-established principle that wrongdoing must amount to a deprivation of a right, privilege or immunity protected by the Constitution or the laws of the United States in order to present a claim cognizable under the Civil Rights Act, Gittlemacker v. Prasse, 3 Cir. 1970, 428

406 F. Supp. 292
F.2d 1; Howell v. Cataldi, 3 Cir. 1972, 464 F.2d 272; Johnson v. Glick, 2 Cir. 1973, 481 F.2d 1028; Isenberg v. Prasse, 3 Cir. 1970, 433 F.2d 449; Kent v. Prasse, 3 Cir. 1967, 385 F.2d 406; Kao v. Red Lion Municipal Authority, M.D.Pa. 1974, 381 F.Supp. 1163; Conner v. Jeffes, M.D.Pa.1975, 67 F.R.D. 86; Sheffey v. Greer, E.D.Ill.1975, 391 F.Supp. 1044 — this contention is frivolous in the instant case where the defendants entered into a consent decree which requires them to bring the York County Prison into compliance with the state minimum standards for county jails. This court has the power to adjudicate all issues necessary to a determination of whether the defendants are in compliance with the consent decree, even though this determination requires the resolution of state law questions

The court will examine first plaintiffs' federal constitutional claims. Plaintiffs contend that the overall conditions of confinement at the York County Prison constitute cruel and unusual punishment for both sentenced prisoners and pretrial detainees.

The cruel and unusual punishment clause of the eighth amendment is applicable to the states through the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. Robinson v. State of California, 1962, 370 U.S. 660, 82 S.Ct. 1417, 8 L.Ed.2d 758. The eighth amendment's proscription is not precisely definable. In Anderson v. Nosser, 5 Cir. 1971, 438 F.2d 183, 190-191, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stated:

"The cruel and unusual punishment clause is a nonstatic, moral precept designed to curb treatment which offends contemporary standards of decency. Until the early part of this century, the ban on cruel and unusual punishment had been interpreted to apply only to outrageous and barbarous practices. See Generally Goldberg & Dershowitz, Declaring the Death Penalty Unconstitutional, 83 Harv.L.Rev. 1773 (1970); Note, The Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause and the Substantive Criminal Law, 79 Harv.L.Rev. 635 (1966). The concept has now expanded, but its precise boundaries are still unclear. Wilkerson v. Utah, 1878, 99 U.S. 130, 135-136, 25 L.Ed. 345 (`Difficulty would attend the effort to define with exactness the extent of the constitutional provision which provides that cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted. * * *'); Trop v. Dulles, 1958, 356 U.S. 86, 78 S.Ct. 590, 2 L.Ed.2d 630. Courts have relied upon such imprecise measures as the protection of `the dignity of man,' Trop v. Dulles, supra, 356 U.S. at 100, 78 S.Ct. 590, or `developing concepts of elemental decency,' Jordan v. Fitzharris, supra D.C., 257 F.Supp. 674 at 679. . . ."

In an attempt to elucidate the meaning of the concept, Justice (then Judge) Blackmun in Jackson v. Bishop, 8 Cir. 1968, 404 F.2d 571, 579 stated:

". . . The Eighth Amendment's basic concept `is nothing less than the dignity of man' and assures that a state's punishment power `be exercised within the limits of civilized standards.' Fines, imprisonment, and even execution may be imposed `but any technique outside the bounds of these traditional penalties is constitutionally suspect.' 356
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33 practice notes
  • Davis v. Balson, No. C 73-205.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • September 28, 1978
    ...detainee constitutionally need not, and, as a practical matter, cannot be provided with a normal civilian life." Padgett v. Stein, 406 F.Supp. 287 The patients at LSH have been involuntarily committed to the custody of the state. Moreover, most, if not all, patients at LSH have demonstrated......
  • United States ex rel. Hoss v. Cuyler, Civ. A. No. 74-2148.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • May 1, 1978
    ...French v. Heyne, 547 F.2d 994, 1002 (7th Cir. 1976); Smith v. Schneckloth, 414 F.2d 680, 682 (9th Cir. 1969); Padgett v. Stein, 406 F.Supp. 287, 296-97 (M.D.Pa. 1975); Smith v. Swenson, 333 F.Supp. 1258, 1259-60 (W.D.Mo.1971); Wilson v. Kelley, 294 F.Supp. 1005, 1012-13 (N.D.Ga.) (three-jud......
  • Lock v. Jenkins, No. S 75-141.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • December 27, 1978
    ...418 U.S. 539, 556, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974). Those cases have also been applied to pretrial detainees, Padgett v. Stein, 406 F.Supp. 287 (M.D.Pa.1975). As was recognized in Butler v. Crumlish, 229 F.Supp. 565, 566 `Pending trial . . . a defendant may be imprisoned in a cell and ......
  • Goldhaber v. Higgins, Civil Action No. 06-134J.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • September 28, 2007
    ...Actions taken by Judge George in his capacity as a member of the Adams County Prison Board are not judicial acts. Padgett v. Stein, 406 F.Supp. 287, 305 (M.D.Pa.1975) ("In the performance of their duties on the prison board, the county judges are not acting within the scope of their judicia......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • Davis v. Balson, No. C 73-205.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • September 28, 1978
    ...detainee constitutionally need not, and, as a practical matter, cannot be provided with a normal civilian life." Padgett v. Stein, 406 F.Supp. 287 The patients at LSH have been involuntarily committed to the custody of the state. Moreover, most, if not all, patients at LSH have demonstrated......
  • United States ex rel. Hoss v. Cuyler, Civ. A. No. 74-2148.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • May 1, 1978
    ...French v. Heyne, 547 F.2d 994, 1002 (7th Cir. 1976); Smith v. Schneckloth, 414 F.2d 680, 682 (9th Cir. 1969); Padgett v. Stein, 406 F.Supp. 287, 296-97 (M.D.Pa. 1975); Smith v. Swenson, 333 F.Supp. 1258, 1259-60 (W.D.Mo.1971); Wilson v. Kelley, 294 F.Supp. 1005, 1012-13 (N.D.Ga.) (three-jud......
  • Lock v. Jenkins, No. S 75-141.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • December 27, 1978
    ...418 U.S. 539, 556, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974). Those cases have also been applied to pretrial detainees, Padgett v. Stein, 406 F.Supp. 287 (M.D.Pa.1975). As was recognized in Butler v. Crumlish, 229 F.Supp. 565, 566 `Pending trial . . . a defendant may be imprisoned in a cell and ......
  • Goldhaber v. Higgins, Civil Action No. 06-134J.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • September 28, 2007
    ...Actions taken by Judge George in his capacity as a member of the Adams County Prison Board are not judicial acts. Padgett v. Stein, 406 F.Supp. 287, 305 (M.D.Pa.1975) ("In the performance of their duties on the prison board, the county judges are not acting within the scope of their judicia......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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