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Coleman v. Brown

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 3, 2017

RALPH COLEMAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
EDMUND G. BROWN, JR., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

         The court has continued the November 3, 2017 contempt hearing and set a status conference for December 20, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Min. Order, Oct. 23, 2017, ECF No. 5720. This order explains the continuance and provides the status conference agenda.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 19, 2017, the court ordered defendants to “come into full and permanent compliance with Program Guide timelines for transfer of inmate-patients to acute and intermediate care facility programs.” ECF No. 5610 at 13.[1] In accordance with the court's previously signaled intention to exclude certain periods from this requirement, see id. at 7 and ECF No. 5583 at 25, the parties were also ordered to “develop an addendum to the Program Guide” identifying exceptions to the timelines. Id. at 13-14; see also id. at 7 and ECF No. 5583 at 25 (prior order signaling intent to exempt certain time periods from timeline calculations).

         Defendants were further ordered to include in their monthly Census and Waitlists Report for Inpatient Mental Health care (monthly report)

(1) the total number of inmate-patients, if any, who waited beyond Program Guide timelines for transfer to an acute inpatient mental health care program; (2) the total number of inmate-patients, if any, who waited beyond Program Guide timelines for transfer to an ICF [intermediate care facility] mental health care program; (3) the number of days each inmate-patient waited beyond Program Guide timelines; and (4) the total number of inmate-patient wait days for the month (category (1) plus category (2) plus category (3)).

ECF No. 5610 at 14. In addition,

[p]ending development of the addendum required by paragraph 2 of this order, defendants shall include with their monthly report the total number of inmate-patient days they believe should be excluded from the total reported and an explanation why those days should be excluded.

Id.

         By its terms, the order is “enforceable by civil contempt proceedings and, if necessary, imposition of monetary sanctions to coerce compliance.” Id. at 13. The court set a November 3, 2017 hearing to consider “findings of contempt and requirement of payment of fines that may have accumulated on or after May 16, 2017, ” with the hearing to be vacated “if no fines have accumulated.” Id. at 14.

         Finally, the Special Master was ordered to “convene a workgroup to focus on outstanding issues related to compliance with the Program Guide timelines for transfer to mental health crisis beds. . . .” Id. The parties were required to file a joint report explaining which issues the workgroup resolved, and an evidentiary hearing was set to resolve outstanding issues related to compliance with the twenty-four hour timeline for transfer to mental health crisis bed (MHCB) care. Id. at 14-15. The court also ordered the workgroup to develop an addendum for exceptions to the MHCB transfer timeline. Id. at 15.

         Defendants have appealed the April 19, 2017 order. ECF No. 5621. The appeal is still pending. See Court of Appeals Docket # 17-16080. The court directed the parties to file a joint statement of their positions on how defendants' appeal impacts this court's jurisdiction over further proceedings. Min. Order, July 6, 2017, ECF No. 5641. In the joint statement, defendants argued that the pending appeal divests this court of jurisdiction to decide whether defendants must fully comply with the Program Guide transfer timelines and to adjudicate contempt proceedings for any such noncompliance. Joint Statement, July 20, 2017, ECF No. 5651 at 7-9. In the alternative, defendants requested the court defer the contempt hearing “to avoid the potential waste of resources in the event the Order is overturned on appeal.” Id. at 9. Plaintiffs argued that the court retains jurisdiction over all issues because the order defendants have appealed is neither a final nor an appealable order. Id. at 12-16. Plaintiffs have moved to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Court of Appeals Docket # 17-16080, ECF No. 10. Plaintiffs' motion is fully briefed. Court of Appeals Docket # 17-16080, ECF No. 20 (plaintiffs' reply brief filed October 26, 2017).

         In the meantime, the court has approved the parties' stipulations to complete and submit to the court the proposed addenda creating exceptions to the Program Guide transfer timelines by November 30, 2017. See ECF Nos. 5631, 5632, 5660.

         At a September 28, 2017 hearing concerning obstacles to compliance with the twenty-four hour timeline for transfer to MHCB care the court noted that it anticipated considering a full report in November on the status of efforts to comply with that timeline and, as necessary, enforcement thereof. ECF No. 5707 at 5-6, 123-124; see also ECF No. 5710 at 2. In a follow-up order the court resolved three issues considered at the September 28, 2017 hearing. Order, Oct. 10, 2017, ECF No. 5710. Specifically, the court denied defendants' request to start the twenty-four hour referral timeline only after in-person clinical assessments and to allow inmate-patients identified as needing MHCB level care to be placed in alternative housing pending that in-person clinical assessment. Id. at 11-14. It also rejected defendants' practice of ending the twenty-four hour transfer timeline when an inmate-patient is placed in a transport vehicle, rather than when the inmate-patient is placed in an MHCB. Id. at 14-16. Finally, it required development of updated data templates for reporting on access to MHCB care. Id. at 16-17. In that order, the court directed the parties to be prepared at the November 3, 2017 hearing to provide a filing date for a current, consolidated Program Guide incorporating all modifications required by court orders issued since March 2006. Id. at 16 n.6. The court further indicated that the parties should be prepared to address at that hearing what effect the court's resolution of the transportation question noted above will have on reporting going forward. Id. at 16.

         On October 19, 2017, when the November 3 hearing still remained on calendar, defendants filed a request for clarification of the scope of that hearing and for a pretrial conference. ECF No. 5717. Plaintiffs responded on October 21, 2017. ECF No. 5719. The court has denied defendants' request for pretrial conference and clarification ...


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