Judge Denies State's Motions For Relief From More Oversight In Arizona Prison Health Care Case
Judge Roslyn Silver denied the state's motion to stay orders from retired Judge David Duncan in the Parsons vs. Ryan settlement on Thursday.
In 2014, Judge Duncan was assigned to a settlement between the people in state prisons and the Arizona Department of Corrections, over poor health care conditions, known as Parsons v. Ryan.
Before he retired in June, Magistrate Judge David Duncan issued a series of orders rebuking the lack of progress in the settlement process and fined the state $1.4 million.
ACLU National Prison Director David Fathi, a lead litigator for the plaintiff class in Parsons, called the order "a major wake-up call for the Arizona Department of Corrections. If they thought the assignment of this case to a new judge was going to give them a second bite at the apple, they were obviously mistaken," he said.
Fathi said Silver had reaffirmed Judge Duncan's findings of a "chronically broken health care system that continues to harm the thousands of men, women, and children in Arizona prisons. We hope that ADC will now, at long last, comply with the promises it made more than four years ago,” Fathi said.
In her order, Judge Silver estimated that the settlement process had cost the state more than $5.5 million in attorneys fees over the past three years.
"While Defendants are free to utilize the State’s resources as they wish, at some point their continued insistence that taxpayer money is better spent on assiduously defending their noncompliance with the Stipulation than on efforts towards remedying the fundamental underlying cause of that noncompliance is likely ill-conceived and illadvised," Silver wrote. She also raised the possibility of setting aside the terms of the settlement and litigating the case again. "The Court is disinclined to grinding down the well-worn path of noncompliance," Silver wrote of ADC and its contractor Corizon Health's failed attempts to meet agreed upon health care benchmarks.
"The parties, but especially Defendants, should carefully contemplate whether they are willing to engage in the good-faith efforts needed to bring Defendants into compliance with the Stipulation," Silver wrote.
Judge Silver called the orders "appropriate because of the continued harm the class experiences" and set a status hearing for Dec. 6.
Check back for updates.