Loyd v. Haley , 176 F.3d 1336 ( 1999 )


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  •                                                                                     PUBLISH
    
    
                          IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
    
                                  FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
                                                                              FILED
                                                                      U.S. COURT OF APPEALS
                                          _______________               ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
                                                                             05/26/99
                                            No. 98-6189                  THOMAS K. KAHN
                                          _______________                     CLERK
    
                                 D. C. Docket No. CV92-N-0058-NE
    
    JEFFREY LOYD, BRUCE CAPSHAW, et al.,
                                                                             Plaintiffs-Appellants,
    
                                                versus
    
    ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS,
    MICHAEL HALEY, Commissioner,
    
                                                          Defendants-Cross-Defendants-Appellees,
    LYLE HAAS, Administration of the Jackson
    County Department of Health in his
    official capacity,
    
                                                                              Defendant-Appellee,
    
    J.D. ATKINS, Jackson County Commissioner; et al.,
                                                                            Defendants-Appellees.
    
                                 ______________________________
    
                             Appeal from the United States District Court
                                for the Northern District of Alabama
                                ______________________________
                                          (May 26, 1999)
    
    Before BIRCH and BARKETT, Circuit Judges, and ALAIMO*, Senior District Judge.
    
    _______________
    *Honorable Anthony A. Alaimo, Senior U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Georgia,
    sitting by designation.
    
    BIRCH, Circuit Judge:
          Appellants, representing all prisoners who are or will be confined at the
    
    Jackson County Jail in Scottsboro, Alabama, appeal the district court order
    
    terminating: (1) a 1994 consent decree governing the conditions of confinement at
    
    the Jackson County Jail, (2) a 1995 permanent injunction ordering the state to
    
    remove state inmates from the Jackson County Jail in a timely manner, and (3) a
    
    1995 consent decree governing the responsibilities of the state of Alabama in
    
    removing state prisoners from Jackson County jails.
    
                                  I.   BACKGROUND
    
          On November 7, 1994, the district court entered an order approving and
    
    adopting a consent decree concerning the conditions of confinement at the Jackson
    
    County Jail. The parties to that consent decree included the appellants, Jackson
    
    County, the Jackson County Commissioners, the Jackson County Sheriff, and the
    
    Chief Jailor of the Jackson County Jail. On January 12, 1995, the district court
    
    entered a permanent injunction against the Alabama Department of Corrections,
    
    ordering the timely removal of state prisoners from the Jackson County Jail. On
    
    March 17, 1995, the district court entered an order adopting and approving a
    
    second consent decree concerning the removal of state prisoners from county jails,
    
    signed by the appellants, the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, the
    
    Department of Corrections, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and the
    
    
                                             2
    Administrator of the Jackson County Health Department. On July 2, 1997, the
    
    Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of
    
    Corrections (hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Attorney General”) filed a
    
    motion to terminate the consent decrees and the permanent injunction pursuant to
    
    the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2).1
    
    The Attorney General claimed status as an intervenor under 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2)
    
    of the PLRA and as a representative of the Alabama Department of Corrections
    
    and the Department of Public Health. On January 27, 1998, the district court
    
    granted the Attorney General's motion for termination of both consent decrees and
    
    the permanent injunction.
    
           The appellants argue that the Attorney General does not have standing to
    
    intervene to terminate the 1994 consent decree because the state of Alabama was
    
    not a party to that consent decree. They also challenge the decision of the district
    
    court not to hold an evidentiary hearing on the motion to terminate. The appellants
    
    
    
           1
                  Immediate termination of prospective relief. – In any civil
                  action with respect to prison conditions, a defendant or intervener
                  shall be entitled to the immediate termination of any prospective
                  relief if the relief was approved or granted in the absence of a
                  finding by the court that the relief is narrowly drawn, extends no
                  further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right,
                  and is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation
                  of the Federal right.
    18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2).
    
                                                     3
    further contend that the termination provisions of the PLRA under 18 U.S.C. §
    
    3626(b)(2) are unconstitutional.
    
           We review de novo a district court's judgment on intervention as of right.
    
    See Purcell v. BankAtlantic Fin. Corp., 
    85 F.3d 1508
    , 1512 (11th Cir. 1996). We
    
    review the district court's denial of an evidentiary hearing for abuse of discretion.
    
    See United States v. Fernandez, 
    136 F.3d 1434
    , 1438 (11th Cir. 1998). Questions
    
    of constitutional law we review de novo. See Pleasant-El v. Oil Recovery Co., 
    148 F.3d 1300
    , 1301 (11th Cir. 1998).
    
                                         II.    DISCUSSION
    
    A.     Intervention by the Attorney General
    
           The appellants argue that the Attorney General did not possess the standing
    
    to intervene and file a motion to terminate the 1994 consent decree because the
    
    Attorney General was not a party to the decree. As an initial matter, we note that
    
    this circuit has held that “a party seeking to intervene need not demonstrate that he
    
    has standing in addition to meeting the requirements of Rule 24 as long as there
    
    exists a justiciable case and controversy between the parties already in the
    
    lawsuit.” Chiles v. Thornburgh, 
    865 F.2d 1197
    , 1213 (11th Cir. 1989).2 See also
    
           2
             Citing Diamond v. Charles, 
    476 U.S. 54
    , 
    106 S. Ct. 1697
    , 
    90 L. Ed. 2d 48
     (1986), the
    appellants argue that the Supreme Court has decided that intervenors are required under Article
    III to possess standing as a matter of constitutional law. This is not so. In Diamond, the Court
    stated that an intervenor, unless otherwise demonstrating Article III standing, may not initiate an
    
                                                     4
    Cox Cable Communications, Inc. v. United States, 
    992 F.2d 1178
    , 1181 (11th Cir.
    
    1993). We, therefore, need not inquire into the Attorney General's standing to seek
    
    intervention in this case.
    
            Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24, a party may seek to intervene of
    
    right3 or with the permission of the district court.4 A movant must establish the
    
    following requirements to intervene as of right:
    
           (1) his application to intervene is timely; (2) he has an interest relating
           to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action; (3) he
           is so situated that disposition of the action, as a practical matter, may
           impede or impair his ability to protect that interest; and (4) his interest
           is represented inadequately by the existing parties to the suit.
    
    Chiles, 865 F.2d at 1213.
    
           No party has challenged the timeliness of the Attorney General's
    
    intervention. We focus instead on whether the Attorney General has sufficient
    
    appeal if the party on whose side he intervened has decided not to appeal. Id. at 68, 106 S. Ct. at
    1706. The Court left open the question of “whether a party seeking to intervene before a District
    Court must satisfy not only the requirements of Rule 24(a)(2), but also the requirements of Art.
    III.” Id. at 68-69, 106 S. Ct. at 1707. Here, appellants, not the State, initiated the appeal of the
    district court's order terminating the consent decrees. While ambivalent about their position, the
    county defendants have remained active in opposing the appeal of the district court's order
    terminating both consent decrees and the permanent injunction. See Brief of (County
    Defendant) Appellees, at 6-8. Accordingly, there is an existing “case or controversy.”
           3
            “Upon timely application anyone shall be permitted to intervene in an action . . . when
    the applicant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the
    action and the applicant is so situated at the disposition of the action may as a practical matter
    impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect that interest, unless the applicant's interest is
    adequately represented by existing parties.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2).
           4
            See Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b).
    
                                                      5
    “interest” in the existing suit to make intervention proper. The intervenor must be
    
    “at least a real party in interest in the transaction which is the subject of the
    
    proceeding. This interest has also been described as a direct, substantial, legally
    
    protectable interest in the proceedings.” Worlds v. Department of Health &
    
    Rehabilitative Servs., 
    929 F.2d 591
    , 594 (11th Cir. 1991) (per curiam) (footnotes,
    
    citations, and quotation marks omitted). Here, the 1994 consent decree states in
    
    Section D, titled “Population,” that:
    
          Inmates in the Jackson County Jail who have been sentenced to
          imprisonment in the custody of the Alabama Department of
          Corrections shall be transferred from the existing and new jail, and
          accepted by the Department of Corrections, on a timely basis. A
          timely basis shall be defined as within 30 days of the time the
          necessary documents associated with the inmate's sentence and
          transfer have been completed and forwarded to the Department of
          Corrections. The Jackson County Sheriff shall enlist the assistance of
          the Jackson County Circuit Judges and District Judge, as well as the
          assistance of the Circuit Clerk, to ensure timely preparation and
          forwarding of these documents. Defendants shall inform the monitor
          of all unreasonable delays in the preparation and forwarding of these
          documents.
    
    R5-117, 1994 Consent Decree at ¶ 25(g). The decree orders that state inmates will
    
    be transferred from county to state jails within a specified period of time,
    
    impacting the economic ability of the State to have facilities available for the
    
    transfer. The 1994 consent decree thus directly affects the interests of the State of
    
    Alabama, even though the State is not a party to the consent decree.
    
    
                                                6
           Furthermore, Alabama was a party to the initial suit. The fact that certain
    
    parties formed a consent decree does not eliminate the State's interest in the suit.
    
    As the Supreme Court stated:
    
           Of course, parties who choose to resolve litigation through settlement
           may not dispose of the claims of a third party, and a fortiori may not
           impose duties or obligations on a third party, without that party's
           agreement. A court's approval of a consent decree between some of
           the parties therefore cannot dispose of the valid claims of
           nonconsenting intervenors; if properly raised, these claims remain and
           may be litigated by the intervenor.
    
    Local Number 93, Int'l Ass'n of Firefighters v. Cleveland, 
    478 U.S. 501
    , 529, 
    106 S. Ct. 3063
    , 3079, 
    92 L. Ed. 2d 405
     (1986). Both consent decrees and the
    
    preliminary injunction arise out of the same litigation. It strains reason to argue
    
    now that these orders are so unrelated that a defendant to the initial litigation
    
    cannot now act as an intervenor.
    
           Under the third and fourth factors described in Chiles, when the interests of
    
    the State are affected by the 1994 consent decree, prohibiting the State from
    
    intervening would impair the State's ability to protect its interests. See Chiles, 865
    
    F.2d at 1213.5 Alabama, therefore, satisfies the requirements for intervention as of
    
    right under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2). Once a party establishes all
    
           5
              Additionally, Alabama's interest are not adequately represented by either the appellants
    or the county defendants. While both the State and the county were defendants in the initial
    action, they are, in reality, adverse parties because the county wants to relieve overcrowding of
    its jails by ensuring that state inmates are transferred to state jails.
    
                                                     7
    prerequisites to intervention, the trial court has no discretion to deny the
    
    intervention. See Purcell, 85 F.3d at 1512.
    
           The appellants argue that because the Attorney General did not specifically
    
    invoke Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 in his motion to terminate, the attempt
    
    to intervene must fail.6 The Attorney General stated in its motion to terminate that
    
    it was intervening under 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2). Here, the Attorney General did
    
    not file a motion to intervene, but rather filed only a motion to terminate the
    
    consent decree. Without expressly considering the intervention issue under Rule
    
    24, the district court did, however, rule on the Attorney General's motion to
    
    terminate. In Farina v. Mission Investment Trust, 
    615 F.2d 1068
     (5th Cir. 1980),
    
    we held that it is within the discretion of the district court to treat a motion to
    
    remove as a motion to intervene. Since the district court granted the motion to
    
    remove, the circuit court concluded that the court necessarily had accepted the
    
    intervenor as a party in the suit. Id. at 1075.7 Accordingly, we find that it was
    
    within the discretion of the district court here to rule upon the motion to terminate
    
    as if the State also had filed a formal motion to intervene. Furthermore, we have
    
    
           6
           A party wishing to intervene must file a motion stating the grounds for intervention,
    even when intervention is permitted by statute. Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(c).
           7
            In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 
    661 F.2d 1206
    , 1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), this court
    adopted as binding precedent all decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to
    October 1, 1981.
    
                                                    8
    also held that we will “disregard nonprejudicial technical defects” in complying
    
    with Rule 24(c). See Piambino v. Bailey, 
    757 F.2d 1112
    , 1121 (11th Cir. 1985).8
    
    Therefore, we affirm the district court's granting to the Attorney General intervenor
    
    status by accepting, and ruling upon, its motion to terminate the 1994 consent
    
    decree.9
    
           8
            When considering intervention of right, prejudice to existing parties -- other than that
    caused by would-be intervenor's failure to act promptly -- is not a factor to be considered. See
    Stallworth v. Monsanto Co., 
    558 F.2d 257
    , 265 (5th Cir. 1977).
           9
              In affirming the district court's acceptance of the Attorney General's intervention we do
    not dismiss lightly the appellants' concerns here. Our holding is based on the compelling nature
    of the State's interest in the litigation, in that the 1994 consent decree directly affected the State
    of Alabama by ordering the removal of state inmates from county prisons within a certain period
    of time.
             We note with concern, however, the case of Clark v. Patterson, Civil Action No. CV 78-
    C-5010-NE (N.D. Ala.), see Brief of Appellant, at 16-17, where the Attorney General of
    Alabama attempted to represent the views of the Sheriff of Madison County, Alabama,
    apparently without the sheriff's knowledge or permission. The State of Alabama may not
    intervene in a misguided effort to represent an adverse party. See Kozak v. Wells, 
    278 F.2d 104
    ,
    113 (8th Cir. 1960) (Blackmun, J.) (“courts must be on guard against the improper use of the
    intervention process. . . . The procedural rules herein expressed are not to be taken advantage of
    where . . . the motion for leave to intervene is sham.”).
             We depart company with the dissent on the issue of the scope of the interest of the State
    of Alabama. We read Chiles to hold that the State of Alabama does not need to establish Article
    III standing in order to intervene in this case. Chiles requires “a justiciable case and controversy
    between the parties already in the lawsuit,” 865 F.2d at 1213; that provision is satisfied here.
    The county defendants supported Alabama's motion to terminate the consent decree and have
    participated as a party supporting that positing on appeal. This is in marked contrast to
    Diamond, as cited by the dissent, where the State of Illinois filed only a “letter of interest”
    expressing support for the intervenor's position. 476 U.S. at 63-64. The county defendants have
    done a great deal more here. They are appellees and have chosen to pursue the matter as an
    active party in the litigation, filing briefs on appeal. Moreover, Diamond considers the ability of
    a party to initiate an appeal and specifically did not consider the requirements for intervention at
    the district court level. See 476 U.S. at 68-69. Initiation of an appeal is not at issue here.
             Furthermore, the interests of Alabama were affected by the November 1994 consent
    decree because the success of the decree hinged on reducing the number of inmates in the county
    facility. To reduce the number of inmates, the consent decree ordered Alabama to remove state
    
                                                      9
    B.     Evidentiary Hearing
    
           The appellants argue that it was an abuse of discretion for the district court
    
    to refuse to conduct an evidentiary hearing concerning the current conditions at the
    
    prison and the scope of the prospective relief that the Attorney General wished to
    
    terminate. We agree.
    
           The PLRA grants the district court broad authority to terminate prospective
    
    relief upon a motion by any party or intervenor. See 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2).
    
    There is, however, an important limitation on this authority. Section 3626(b)(3)
    
    provides that
    
           Prospective relief shall not terminate if the court makes written
           findings based on the record that prospective relief remains necessary
    
    
    inmates in a timely manner. Other portions of the consent decree directed the county defendants
    to improve the services available to the prison inmates. The facilities, services, and conditions
    for the old and new county jails mandated by the 1994 consent decree could only be achieved
    and maintained with a smaller prison population, making Alabama a key party to the success of
    the November 1994 consent decree. The Supreme Court has noted that when some parties to a
    litigation resolve their claims through a consent decree, this does not eliminate the interests of
    “nonconsenting intervenors” whose “claims remain and may be litigated by the intervenor.” See
    Local Number 93, 478 U.S. at 529, 106 S. Ct. at 3079.
             It would be difficult, if not impossible, to keep in effect, as the dissent suggests, the
    provisions of the decree relating to services while not enforcing those provisions instructing
    Alabama to reduce the prison population. The decree is not made up of two separate pieces,
    each of which can survive on its own. In this situation, the decree must be read in its entirety.
    Newman v. Graddick, 
    740 F.2d 1513
     (11th Cir. 1984), cited by the dissent, is not in conflict with
    our decision here. Newman requires that the intervenor show the decree has “adversely
    affect[ed] his interest.” Id. at 1517. The Attorney General has satisfied that demonstration here.
    Finally, as we have noted, “[a]ny doubt concerning the propriety of allowing intervention should
    be resolved in favor of the proposed intervenors because it allows the court to resolve all related
    disputes in a single action.” Federal Sav. & Loan Ins. Corp. v. Falls Chase Special Taxing Dist.,
    
    983 F.2d 211
    , 216 (11th Cir.1993).
    
                                                    10
          to correct a current and ongoing violation of the Federal right, extends
          no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right,
          and that the prospective relief is narrowly drawn and the least
          intrusive means to correct the violation.
    
    18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(3) (emphasis added). It would read all meaning out of this
    
    section to force the party opposing termination to show that the consent decree
    
    meets the requirements of § 3626(b)(3) and then not provide that party with the
    
    opportunity to present evidence on that point. We hold, therefore, that it was abuse
    
    of discretion for the district court to refuse to hold an evidentiary hearing. See also
    
    Tyler v. Murphy, 
    135 F.3d 594
    , 597-98 (8th Cir. 1998) (on remand proponents of
    
    prospective relief must be given opportunity to present evidence); Benjamin v.
    
    Jacobson, 
    124 F.3d 162
    , 179 (2d Cir. 1997) (record may include supplemental
    
    evidence presented to the court), reh'g en banc granted, Dec. 23, 1997; Jensen v.
    
    County of Lake, 
    958 F. Supp. 397
    , 406-07 (N.D. Ind. 1997) (at hearing on
    
    termination, prisoners “will have the opportunity to show whether ongoing
    
    constitutional violations exist” at the jail); Carty v. Farrelly, 
    957 F. Supp. 727
    , &33
    
    (D.V.I. 1997) (holding evidentiary hearing to determine whether constitutional
    
    violations were current and ongoing).
    
          The Attorney General argues that no evidentiary hearing was necessary
    
    because the “record” in this case was current. It is true that the court-appointed
    
    monitor, Dr. William E. Osterhoff, did provide eleven reports to the court, the most
    
                                              11
    recent of which was filed two months prior to the motion to terminate. The
    
    Attorney General's argument fails, however, because the purpose of an evidentiary
    
    hearing is far greater than simply to receive a written report. A report alone cannot
    
    be cross-examined or disputed. The party opposing termination must be given the
    
    opportunity to challenge or supplement the findings of the monitor and to present
    
    evidence concerning the scope of the challenged relief and whether there are
    
    “current and ongoing” violations of federal rights in the prison.
    
    C.    Permanent Injunction
    
          Section 3626(b)(2) provides for the immediate termination of any
    
    prospective relief under certain conditions. The PLRA defines “prospective relief”
    
    to mean “all relief other than compensatory monetary damages.” 18 U.S.C. §
    
    3626(g)(7). “Relief” is defined as “all relief in any form that may be granted or
    
    approved by the court, and includes consent decrees but does not include private
    
    settlement agreements.” 18 U.S.C. § 3626(g)(9). Accordingly, permanent
    
    injunctions, as a form of prospective relief, fall under the immediate termination
    
    provisions of the PLRA. We have previously affirmed the termination of an
    
    injunction under this same section of the PLRA. See Parrish v. Alabama Dep't of
    
    Corrections, 
    156 F.3d 1128
    , 1129 (11th Cir. 1998). See also Tyler v. Murphy, 135
    
    
    
    
                                             
    12 F.3d 594
    , 596 (8th Cir. 1998) (holding that an injunction must be considered under
    
    restrictions of 3626(b)(2)).10
    
           Appellants argue that the permanent injunction at issue here is based on
    
    findings of constitutional violations, and because a court is not authorized to grant
    
    injunctive relief against a state agency that is broader than necessary to remedy the
    
    constitutional violation, see Gibson v. Firestone, 
    741 F.2d 1268
    , 1273 (11th Cir.
    
    1984), the permanent injunction, by definition, is narrowly tailored to correct any
    
    constitutional violations and thus complies with requirements of the PLRA.
    
           Since we have determined that it was improper for the district court to refuse
    
    to hold an evidentiary hearing concerning conditions in the prison or scope of relief
    
    approved in the litigation, we decline to address this portion of the appeal here.
    
    Rather, we will allow the district court to review appellant's arguments during the
    
    evidentiary hearing ordered in this opinion.
    
    D.     Constitutionality of PLRA, 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)
    
           In a companion case, Nichols v. Hopper, ___ F.3d ___ (11th Cir. 1999), we
    
    held that the termination provisions of the PLRA are constitutional under a
    
    
           10
              It is not unusual for a court to modify or even terminate an injunction in response to a
    change in the law. See Pennsylvania v. Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co., 59 U.S. (18 How.)
    421, 431-32 (1855). See also Agostini v. Felton, 
    521 U.S. 203
    , 
    117 S. Ct. 1997
    , 2006, 
    138 L. Ed. 2d 391
     (1997) ("A court errs when it refuses to modify an injunction or consent decree in
    light of [statutory or decisional law] changes.").
    
                                                     13
    separation of powers challenge as articulated in United States v. Klein, 80 U.S. (13
    
    Wall.) 128, 
    20 L. Ed. 519
     (1871). In Dougan v. Singletary, 
    129 F.3d 1424
     (11th
    
    Cir. 1997) (per curiam), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 
    118 S. Ct. 2375
    , 
    141 L. Ed. 2d 777
     (1998), we held that the PLRA termination provision did not violate the Fifth
    
    Amendment's Due Process Clause, id. at 1426-27; did not violate the equal
    
    protection component of the Fifth Amendment, id. at 1427; and did not violate the
    
    separation of powers doctrine, id. at 1426.11 The appellants' challenges to the
    
    constitutionality of the PLRA termination provisions, therefore, are without merit.
    
                                       III. CONCLUSION
    
           We AFFIRM the district court's treatment of the Attorney General as an
    
    intervenor. We REVERSE the district court's decision not to hold an evidentiary
    
    hearing and REMAND to the district court to hold a hearing consistent with this
    
    opinion.    We AFFIRM the district court's finding that the PLRA withstands
    
    constitutional scrutiny.
    
    AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, REMANDED.
    
    
    
    
           11
              In Dougan, the plaintiffs challenged section 3626(b)(2) under the separation of powers
    doctrine that forbids legislation that “command[s] the federal courts to reopen final judgments,”
    as articulated most recently in Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., 
    514 U.S. 211
    , 219, 
    115 S. Ct. 1447
    , 1453, 
    131 L. Ed. 2d 328
     (1995).
    
                                                   14
    BARKETT, Circuit Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part:
    
          I agree with the majority that Loyd was entitled to an evidentiary hearing in the
    
    district court and that his constitutional challenge to the PLRA must fail under our
    
    precedents. However, I believe that the majority errs in holding that the Attorney
    
    General was entitled to seek termination of the entire November 1994 decree without
    
    satisfying Article III standing requirements.
    
          There is no question that the Attorney General would be a permissible
    
    intervenor in a case where one of the parties to a consent decree also sought
    
    termination. Intervention in that context would not require a showing of Article III
    
    standing. Chiles v. Thornburgh, 
    865 F.2d 1197
    , 1212-13 (11th Cir. 1989). Here,
    
    however, the Attorney General alone asked the district court to terminate the
    
    November 1994 decree. The parties to the decree, the county defendants, did not and
    
    have not sought to join the Attorney General’s motion to terminate or independently
    
    move to terminate the decree. The Supreme Court’s decision in Diamond v. Charles,
    
    
    476 U.S. 54
     (1986), indicates that the Attorney General must satisfy Article III
    
    standing requirements in these circumstances.
    
          In Diamond, noting Article III’s requirement of injury-in-fact, the Court
    
    observed that, because of the profound effect of judicial review on the populace, “the
    
    decision to seek review must be placed ‘in the hands of those who have a direct stake
    
    
                                             15
    in the outcome.’ It is not to be placed in the hands of ‘concerned bystanders,’ who
    
    will use it simply ‘as a vehicle for the vindication of value interests.’” Id. at 62
    
    (citations omitted). Accordingly, the Court held that “an intervenor’s right to continue
    
    a suit in the absence of the party on whose side intervention was permitted is
    
    contingent upon a showing by the intervenor that he fulfills the requirements of
    
    Article III.” Id. at 68. Because the defendant in that case, the State of Illinois, had not
    
    filed an appeal, the intervenor could not simply attempt “to ride ‘piggyback’ on the
    
    State’s undoubted standing,” id. at 64, but had to show that he had satisfied Article
    
    III’s demands in order to appeal since “in the absence of the State [as an appellant],
    
    there is no case for Diamond to join.” Id. See also United States v. AVX Corp., 
    962 F.2d 108
    , 112-13 (1st Cir. 1992) (holding that intervenor who opposed consent decree
    
    could not appeal the district court’s order approving the decree without satisfying
    
    Article III standing requirements). The same result obtains here. Because the
    
    Attorney General alone asked the district court to terminate the Nov 1994 consent
    
    decree, it must show that it has a direct stake in whether or not that consent decree will
    
    continue in force. Accordingly, the majority errs in concluding that the Attorney
    
    General was entitled to seek termination of the consent decrees without satisfying
    
    Article III standing requirements.
    
    
    
    
                                                16
           Our decision in Chiles is not to the contrary. In Chiles, we recognized that a
    
    party seeking to intervene need not establish Article III standing “as long as there
    
    exists a justiciable case or controversy between the parties already in the lawsuit.”
    
    Chiles, 865 F.2d at 1213. Here, however, at the time the Attorney General moved to
    
    terminate the consent decrees, there was no ongoing case or controversy between the
    
    parties to the decree – the case between them had been settled by the consent decree
    
    that the Attorney General was seeking to terminate. Moreover, the fact that the county
    
    defendants acquiesced in the termination of the consent decrees before both the
    
    district court and this Court is not sufficient to create a case or controversy. The
    
    Supreme Court rejected a similar contention in Diamond. In Diamond, the State of
    
    Illinois filed a “letter of interest” expressing its support for the intervenor’s position
    
    and noting that it was still a “party” to the litigation. The Court found that this “mere
    
    expression of interest . . . insufficient to bring the State into the suit as an appellant,”
    
    explaining that “[t]he State’s general interest may be adverse to the interest of
    
    appellees, but its failure to invoke our jurisdiction leaves the Court without a ‘case’
    
    or ‘controversy’ between appellees and the State of Illinois.” Diamond, 476 U.S. at
    
    63-64. The same principle applies here. Because the county defendants did not
    
    invoke the district court’s jurisdiction and move to terminate the decrees, there was
    
    
    
    
                                                17
    no case or controversy between the plaintiffs and the county defendants at the time the
    
    Attorney General filed the motion to terminate.
    
          The majority concludes that the Attorney General has a sufficient direct and
    
    substantial interest in the November 1994 consent decree, even though he was not a
    
    party to the decree, because one of the paragraphs of the consent decree requires
    
    transfer of inmates from county jails to state-run jails within a specified period of
    
    time. I agree that the Attorney General has a direct stake in the continued existence
    
    of this portion of the consent decree. I do not think, however, that the fact that the
    
    Attorney General has a direct stake in one provision of this consent decree, albeit an
    
    important one, gives him the right to seek the termination of the entire decree, the vast
    
    majority of which only relates to the county defendants. The majority offers no reason
    
    why the Attorney General should be able to seek termination of those portions of the
    
    decree that only relate to the county defendants.          Moreover, as the majority
    
    recognizes, the state and county defendants have different and adverse interests,
    
    making it inappropriate for the Attorney General to act as a representative for the
    
    county defendants.
    
          This reasoning finds support in our decision in Newman v. Graddick, 
    740 F.2d 1513
     (11th Cir. 1984). In Newman, we considered whether the Attorney General of
    
    Alabama had standing to challenge a consent decree to which he had not agreed and
    
    
                                               18
    whether he could seek modification of that decree. Because the Attorney General was
    
    a party to the decree and the decree was approved over his objections, we held that he
    
    had standing to challenge the decree. However, we explained that “he would need to
    
    show that the decree adversely affects his interests as Attorney General of Alabama.
    
    He could not assert the interests of other parties to the litigation.” Id. at 1517.
    
    Likewise, we affirmed the district court’s conclusion that the Attorney General “had
    
    no standing to seek to modify the decree in respects that were not prejudicial to the
    
    interest of the Attorney General.” Id. at 1518. As Newman makes clear, the Attorney
    
    General’s standing is confined to his own interests; he cannot assert the interests of
    
    other parties to the litigation. See also Graddick v. Newman, 
    453 U.S. 928
    , 934
    
    (1981) (Powell, J.) (denying stay to Alabama Attorney General on basis that he lacked
    
    standing because, at the time, Alabama statutes vested responsibility over prison
    
    system in the Governor, who opposed stay).
    
          I recognize that, even if the Attorney General lacks the authority to terminate
    
    the remaining portions of the November 1994 decree, the district court would have the
    
    authority to do so sua sponte. See United States v. City of Miami, 
    2 F.3d 1497
    , 1506
    
    (11th Cir. 1993). However, I believe that the district court should have an opportunity
    
    to decide whether it will exercise its discretion to act sua sponte, especially given the
    
    fact that its decision on this point will affect the scope of the evidentiary hearing it
    
    
                                               19
    needs to hold. This follows the same approach we took in Magluta v. Samples, 
    162 F.3d 662
     (11th Cir. 1998), where we remanded a case to the district court to permit
    
    the district court to decide whether it would dismiss plaintiff’s case for failure to
    
    comply with the local rules. Id. at 664-65.
    
    
    
    
                                             20
    

Document Info

DocketNumber: 98-6189

Citation Numbers: 176 F.3d 1336

Filed Date: 5/26/1999

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 12/21/2014

Authorities (26)

Purcell v. Bankatlantic Financial , 85 F.3d 1508 ( 1996 )

United States v. Fernandez , 136 F.3d 1434 ( 1998 )

Pleasant-El v. Oil Recovery Company , 148 F.3d 1300 ( 1998 )

Magluta v. Samples , 162 F.3d 662 ( 1998 )

Charles A. Graddick, Attorney General of Alabama, Applicant ... , 453 U.S. 928 ( 1981 )

Diamond v. Charles , 476 U.S. 54 ( 1986 )

Firefighters v. Cleveland , 478 U.S. 501 ( 1986 )

Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc. , 514 U.S. 211 ( 1995 )

Agostini v. Felton , 521 U.S. 203 ( 1997 )

Frank J. Kozak v. Willard B. Wells, Administrator, Etc. , 278 F.2d 104 ( 1960 )

Joe P. Farina v. Mission Investment Trust , 615 F.2d 1068 ( 1980 )

Larry Bonner v. City of Prichard, Alabama , 661 F.2d 1206 ( 1981 )

nh-newman-united-states-of-america-amicus-curiae-v-charles-a , 740 F.2d 1513 ( 1984 )

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