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BEAVER v. KINGMAN

January 19, 1990.

WINSLOW BEAVER AND KENNETH E. GOODMAN, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Appellees,
v.
WINIFRED KINGMAN, VELMA PARIS, and ERIC K. RUCKER, Commissioners of Shawnee County, Kansas; and RICHARD MILLS, Secretary of Corrections, State of Kansas, Appellants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by

At issue in this appeal is the termination date of district court jurisdiction over the Shawnee County Jail; we must decide whether the district court retains jurisdiction over the Shawnee County jail after April 1, 1989. The case presents legal questions

[246 Kan. 146]

      relating to consent judgments (decrees), jurisdiction, and contract interpretation.

The Shawnee County Commissioners and the Kansas Secretary of Corrections appeal from the district court's denial of their motion to confirm the end of the district court's jurisdiction. The trial judge reasoned that district court jurisdiction continued. We reach the opposite conclusion and reverse the district court.

Facts

  This case originated as two separate habeas corpus actions filed in 1974 by the plaintiffs, Winslow Beaver and Kenneth E. Goodman, inmates of the Shawnee County Jail. Beaver and Goodman challenged the conditions of their confinement. The Legal Aid Society of Topeka was assigned to represent them.

  Beaver and Goodman subsequently filed a new petition in which they purported to represent all past, present, and future inmates as a class pursuant to K.S.A. 60-223. The petition sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The district court initially dismissed the action, finding that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction. The district court reasoned that because Beaver and Goodman were no longer in jail they could not represent the class and that the nature of the action was such that it could not be certified as a class action. The dismissal was reversed by the Kansas Court of Appeals in Beaver v. Chaffee, 2 Kan. App. 2d 364, 372-73, 579 P.2d 1217 (1978).

  The Court of Appeals categorized the complaints of the inmates into six different areas:

  "(1) The physical facilities were alleged to be inadequate, resulting in overcrowding and conditions hazardous to health and safety. (2) The jail's personnel are said to be inadequate in number, training and ethnic mix, resulting in beatings and sexual assaults among the inmates. (3) It is claimed that the inmates are not properly classified and segregated, particularly by age and sex, and are not afforded proper exercise or programs aimed at vocational training or other types of rehabilitation. (4) The food is said to be of poor quality, poorly prepared, and infested with insects and vermin. (5) The policies and procedures for governing the jail are alleged to be vague, and not properly followed anyway, resulting in harsh and arbitrary discipline. (6) It is alleged that inmate mail is improperly censored, and facilities for attorney-client conferences are inadequate." 2 Kan. App. 2d at 365-66.

[246 Kan. 147]

     

  On remand, the parties entered into a consent judgment which was approved and signed by the assigned district judge, the Honorable Robert L. Gernon, on May 6, 1983. It is this consent judgment that is now before us for review.

  The consent judgment required the Shawnee County Commissioners to construct a new county jail and to comply with the minimum standards for administrative operations set forth at K.S.A. 75-5228(a). A new policy and procedure manual and a population control plan were subsequently drafted, approved by the district court, and made part of the consent judgment. The consent judgment also contained provisions dealing with specific problems in the existing jail (e.g. overcrowding and inadequate staffing).

  Paragraph 43 of the consent judgment stated: "This court shall retain continuing jurisdiction concerning all matters covered by this Consent Judgment and Order until one year from ...


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