June 18, 2020

ACLU and Munger Tolles Obtain Preliminary Injunction to Protect Inmates from COVID-19

Munger, Tolles & Olson partnered with the ACLU of Washington, D.C. and D.C. Public Defender Service to obtain a preliminary injunction against the D.C. Department of Corrections to protect the rights and health of prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 18, 2020, a D.C. District Court granted a preliminary injunction against the D.C. DOC. The order mandates that DOC provide prisoners with medical care within 24 hours of the first sign of viral symptoms, enforce Centers for Disease Control policies on social distancing, provide prisoners with necessary materials to clean their cells, ensure access to confidential legal calls, and provide increased testing for prisoners. The order also mandates improved, non-punitive conditions for prisoners in isolation due to COVID-19, including access to phone calls, daily showers and clean clothes.

The decision is one of the most substantial victories scored in COVID-19-related litigation on behalf of incarcerated individuals to date, and sets an important precedent for many similar actions being pursued across the country—including several others that Munger, Tolles & Olson is pursuing with the ACLU in California.

The Munger, Tolles & Olson team was led by Jonathan Meltzer and included Jacob Kreilkamp, Graham Cole, April Hu, Jeremy Kreisberg, Estalyn Marquis, Sara McDermott, Rachel Miller-Ziegler, Brian Springer, Elaine Goldenberg, and Brendan Gants.

Further reading:

Federal Judge Orders DC to Do More to Protect Inmates from Virus,” published in Courthouse News Service on June 19, 2020

Federal Judge Rules D.C. Jail Must Do More to Protect Inmates from the Coronavirus” published by WAMU on June 18, 2020

DC Jails Ordered to Reform Conditions for Inmates during Pandemic” published by WTOP News on June 18, 2020

ACLU Wins Suit Against DC Department of Corrections Calling for Immediate Updates Amid Coronavirus Pandemic” published by WUSA on June 19,2020