Update in Kiniti v. Meyers
Judge Dana M. Sabraw issued a decision today on the defendants’ motions to dismiss in the ACLU’s case challenging dangerous and inhumane conditions at the San Diego Correctional Facility. The ACLU joined a lawsuit in January 2007 on behalf of immigration detainees at the private immigration facility, charging that chronically severe overcrowding places detainees’ health and safety at risk, and is unconstitutional.
The Court’s order in the motion to dismiss allowed our case to proceed with three of the named plaintiffs, including one who was transferred out of the facility several weeks after the ACLU brought its suit. (The Court dismissed the claims of the two individuals who have already been deported.)
Following is the critical part of the Court’s holding:
Defendants, however, have failed to satisfy their heavy burden of demonstrating it is “absolutely clear that the allegedly wrongful conduct could not reasonably be expected to recur.” Defendants’ burden of persuasion is “stringent.” This heavy burden is met where, for example, a defendant acknowledges in writing that the challenged conduct is unlawful and provides assurances the offending conduct will not be repeated.
In contrast, Defendants here have not acknowledged, in writing or otherwise, that the challenged conduct is wrong or that overcrowding ever was a problem at SDCF. Nor have they stated they would not reinstate the practices in question. In fact, Defendants dispute whether triple-celling is unconstitutional and maintain such practices do “not result in a violation of Plaintiffs’ civil rights.”
Under these circumstances, Defendants’ representation that no detainees are currently being triple-celled and they do not expect such to recur, is insufficient to render the controversy moot.