Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. No. 92 C 429 Allen Sharp, Chief Judge.
Before COFFEY, RIPPLE and DIANE P. WOOD, Circuit Judges.
DECIDED SEPTEMBER 20, 1996
In 1992, a number of prisoners incarcerated at the Maximum Control Complex ("MCC") in Westville, Indiana filed a class action against state officials. Alleging a number of federal constitutional violations, the prisoners challenged their assignment to, and the conditions of confinement at, the MCC. The parties negotiated an agreed entry, which was ultimately approved by the district court. The agreed entry, a consent decree, included a provision which, by incorporating an Indiana statutory provision, accords prisoners charged with serious disciplinary offenses certain procedural protections, including the availability of a "lay advocate," during the disciplinary process. The procedural protections provided for in the agreed entry exceed those required by the Constitution of the United States. In 1994, the prisoners filed a motion to hold the state officials in contempt for violating several provisions of the consent decree. The district court, however, refused to enforce the provisions of the consent decree beyond those provisions mandated explicitly by the Constitution of the United States. The plaintiffs appeal the district court's denial of their contempt motion. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings.
Before proceeding further, however, we add a note of caution. After this case was submitted, the President approved the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996. See Pub. L. No. 104-134, Title VIII, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (codified principally at 18 U.S.C. sec. 3626). This Act, the pertinent provisions of which are effective immediately, see Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, sec. 802(b)(1), 18 U.S.C. sec. 3626 note, makes substantial changes in the fashioning and enforcement of consent decrees dealing with prison conditions. Neither the state nor the plaintiffs has suggested to this court the impact of this statute upon this appeal from a denial of a motion for contempt based on non-compliance before the enactment of this legislation. We note that, in their memorandum in support of the motion for contempt, the plaintiffs state the possibility of sanctions to compensate them for losses incurred as a result of the defendants' non-compliance with the consent decree. The plaintiffs are therefore seeking more than prospective compliance with the terms of the consent decree. Because we believe that the district court misapprehended our precedents on the issues presented to us, we cannot permit its judgment to stand. We emphasize that, on remand, the district court, if requested to alter the consent decree previously entered by the court, must take into account the provisions of this new statute. Sasnett v. Sullivan, 91 F.3d 1018, 1023 (7th Cir. 1996). We express no opinion on what changes, if any, the new statute might require in the consent decree. We leave that issue in the first instance for the district court.
In May 1992, a class of prisoners commenced this action against the Governor of Indiana and several officials of the Indiana Department of Corrections ("DOC"). The prisoners' action, brought under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 and Indiana law, challenged their assignment to, and the conditions of confinement at, the MCC. *fn1 The complaint alleged a number of federal constitutional violations. Relevant to this appeal, however, is the prisoners' challenge to the manner in which prison disciplinary proceedings are conducted.
The prisoners' claims for injunctive relief were resolved when the parties proposed, and the district court approved, the agreed entry. Paragraph IX(1) of the agreed entry provides:
All discipline, including Conduct Adjustment Board hearings, shall be consistent with Ind. Code 11-11-5-1 et seq. (attached). This does not entitle prisoners to utilize the Court's contempt powers to challenge [Conduct Adjustment Board] convictions on a case by case basis. The contempt power shall be available to enforce this provision on a class-wide basis.
R.112, Agreed Entry at para. IX(1). The Indiana statute referred to in this paragraph, Indiana Code sec. 11-11-5-1 et seq., accords certain procedural protections to prisoners charged with disciplinary offenses. It is undisputed that many of these procedural protections, including the availability of "lay advocates" for prisoners charged with serious offenses, exceed, at least when viewed outside the context of the consent decree, the requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. One of the provisions of the state statute, Indiana Code sec. 11-11-5-5(a)(7), provides that prisoners facing disciplinary hearings are entitled to have advice and representation by a lay advocate of his choice, if that lay advocate is available in the institution at the time of the hearing, in those hearings based upon a charge of institutional misconduct when the department determines he lacks the competency to understand the issues involved or to participate in the hearing, or when the punishment [exceeds certain levels].
Indiana Code sec. 11-11-5-5(a)(7). The availability of lay advocates under this section exceeds the requirements of the Due Process Clause. See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 569-70 (1974) (holding that an advocate must be provided only when the prisoner is illiterate or where the issues are so complex that the prisoner is unable to defend against the charges); Miller v. Duckworth, 963 F.2d 1002, 1004 (7th Cir. 1992).
In September 1994, the prisoners filed a motion in the district court to hold the defendants in contempt. The prisoners alleged that the defendants had failed to comply with certain provisions of the agreed entry, including paragraph IX(1). Specifically, the plaintiffs' motion alleged that: (1) DOC officials had denied prisoners the lay advocate of their choice, as required by Indiana Code sec. 11-11-5-5(a)(7); and (2) the lay advocates provided by the prison had not performed any of the functions traditionally expected of an advocate. The district court referred the contempt motion to a magistrate judge for a report and recommendation.
In his report and recommendation, the magistrate judge took the view that the district court lacks jurisdiction to enforce paragraph IX(1) of the agreed entry on the ground that, under the Eleventh Amendment, a federal court may not enjoin state officials to conform their conduct to state law. Relying on the Fifth Circuit's decision in Saahir v. Estelle, 47 F.3d 758 (5th Cir. 1995) and this court's decision in Evans v. City of Chicago, 10 F.3d 474 (7th Cir. 1993) (en banc), cert. denied, 114 S. Ct. 1831 (1994), the magistrate judge reasoned that the Eleventh Amendment's jurisdictional bar remains in place--even when state officials agree to follow state law in a federal consent decree. The prisoners have no right to lay advocates under federal law, the magistrate judge concluded, and, even though the defendants adopted Indiana's lay advocate provisions as part of the remedy to the plaintiffs' section 1983 claim, "[w]hat the defendants agreed to give as a remedy . . . does not have any effect on the ...