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Ralph Coleman, et al v. Edmund G. Brown

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


January 9, 2013

RALPH COLEMAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
EDMUND G. BROWN, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

ORDER

On January 7, 2013, defendants filed a motion to terminate this action pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b), and to vacate this court's judgment and orders pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(5). Defendants contend that they are providing inmates with constitutionally adequate mental health care. They therefore seek an order vacating the judgment, terminating "all prospective relief," and dismissing the action. Defendants' motion is noticed for hearing before the undersigned on February 11, 2013.

In an order filed August 4, 2009, a three-judge court convened pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(3) found that "no relief other than a prisoner release order is capable of remedying the constitutional deficiencies at the heart of" this action. Order filed August 4, 2009, at 119. The three-judge court therefore ordered defendants to provide "a population reduction plan that will in no more than two years reduce the population of the CDCR's adult institutions to 137.5% of their combined design capacity." Id. at 183. On May 23, 2011, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the three-judge court's findings and order, holding that "the court-mandated population limit is necessary to remedy the violation of prisoners' constitutional rights." Brown v. Plata, 563 U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 1910, 1923 (2011). Following the United States Supreme Court's decision, on June 30, 2011 the three-judge court issued an order requiring defendants to, inter alia, reduce the population of California's thirty-three adult prisons to no more than 137.5% of design capacity by June 27, 2013. Order filed June 30, 2011, at 1-2. That order remains in full force and effect.*fn1

The population reduction order issued by the three-judge court is prospective relief in effect in this action. Moreover, as noted above, the three-judge court has found that no relief other than that required by that order -- reduction of the prison population to 137.5% of capacity -- can remedy the constitutional deficiencies in this action. Good cause appearing, the parties will be directed to brief the question of whether this court is precluded by the three judge-court's finding and by its population reduction order from hearing defendants' motion to terminate at this time.*fn2 In view of the need for further briefing, and good cause appearing, the effective date of any automatic stay will be postponed for a period of sixty days after the thirtieth day after defendants' motion was filed. See 18 U.S.C. § 3626(e)(2), (3).

In accordance with the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Except as expressly required by this order, briefing on defendants' January 7, 2013 motion to terminate is suspended;

2. The hearing set for February 11, 2013 is dropped from calendar;

3. Within fifteen days from the date of this order the parties shall file briefs, which shall not exceed twenty-five pages in length, in accordance with this order; and

4. The effective date of any automatic stay is postponed for a period of sixty days after the thirtieth day after defendants' motion was filed.


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