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Brown v. Plata

Docket No.: 09-1233
Certiorari Granted: 11/15/10
Argued: November 30, 2010
Decided: 05/23/11


Article I, Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, Due Process, Eighth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, abuse of discretion, habeas, habeas corpus, murder, separation of powers

PartyNames: Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Governor of California, et al., Appellants v. Marciano Plata, et al.
Petitioner: Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Governor of California, et al., Appellants
Respondent: Marciano Plata, et al.

Court Below: United States District Courts for the Eastern District and the Northern District
Citation: 2010 WL 99000
Supreme Court Docket

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Governor of California, et al., Appellants
Marciano Plata, et al.
Question Presented:

1. Whether the three-judge district court had jurisdiction to issue a "prisoner release order" pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 18 U.S.C. ยง 3626. 2. Whether the court below properly interpreted and applied Section 3626(a)(3)(E), which requires a three-judge court to find, by clear and convincing evidence, that "crowding is the primary cause of the violation of a Federal right; and ... no other relief will remedy the violation of the Federal right" in order to issue a "prisoner release order." 3. Whether the three-judge court's "prisoner release order," which was entered to address the allegedly unconstitutional delivery of medical and mental health care to two classes of California inmates, but mandates a system-wide population cap within two years that will require a population reduction of approximately 46,000 inmates, satisfies the PLRA's nexus and narrow tailoring requirements while giving sufficient weight to potential adverse effects on public safety and the State's operation of its criminal justice system.


Does a court order requiring California to reduce its prison population to remedy unconstitutional conditions in its correctional facilities violate the Prison Litigation Reform Act?

Brown v. Plata


Listen to Oral Argument in Brown v. Plata
Holding: affirmed
Vote: 5-4
Opinion By:

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Brown v. Plata
Case Documents

1Brown v. Plata Oral Argument Transcript (HTML)
2Opinion in Brown v. Plata
3Brown v. Plata Oral Argument Audio
4Brown v. Plata Oral Argument Audio
5Opinion in Brown v. Plata
Additional documents for this case are pending review.