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United States v. Erie County

March 17, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ERIE COUNTY, NY, CHRIS COLLINS, COUNTY EXECUTIVE, ANTHONY BILLITTIER, IV, MD COUNTY HEALTH COMMISSIONER, TIMOTHY B. HOWARD, ERIE COUNTY SHERIFF, RICHARD T. DONOVAN, ERIE COUNTY UNDERSHERIFF, ROBERT KOCH, SUPERINTENDENT ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES DIVISION, JAIL MANAGEMENT DIVISION, BARBARA LEARY, FIRST DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT, ERIE COUNTY HOLDING CENTER, DONALD LIVINGSTON, FIRST DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT, ERIE COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently pending are the parties' discovery-related motions filed in response to this Court's March 6, 2010 Decision and Order granting the Justice Department's Motion for Expedited Discovery. The Justice Department filed a Motion to Compel Defendants' compliance on March 11, 2010. Defendants filed a Motion for Protective Order on March 12, 2010. Both sides seek expedited treatment of their motions. Briefing concluded yesterday, March 16, 2010.

For the reasons that follow, expedited treatment is granted and the motions are granted in part and denied in part.

II. BACKGROUND

On March 6, 2010, this Court granted the Justice Department's request for expedited discovery concerning whether changes can be made at the Erie County Holding Center ("ECHC") to decrease incidents of preventable suicides and suicide attempts. (Docket No. 42.) The discovery sought included information related to suicide prevention and mental health treatment, as well as entry and inspection of the ECHC to allow suicide prevention and mental health consultants to examine the facility, inspect relevant records, and interview inmates. (Fleisher Declaration; Docket No. 27, ¶ 5; United States' First Request for Entry and Inspection, Docket No. 27-4.) In granting the Justice Department's motion, this Court rejected Defendants' arguments that the Justice Department lacked good cause for expedited discovery, that the requested discovery was over-broad and unduly burdensome, and that the requests ran afoul of state and federal confidentiality laws.

This Court granted limited expedited discovery and directed Defendants to respond to the Justice Department's three sets of discovery requests within 14 days of service. The approved discovery requests included Requests for Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and a Request for Entry and Inspection. (Docket Nos. 27-2, 27-3, 27-4.)

At issue is the scope of the Justice Department's Request for Entry and Inspection. In pertinent part, the request seeks the following:

* entry and inspection of the ECHC by Justice Department attorneys and consultants;

* review of requested documents;

* examination of the premises for conditions related to mental health treatment and suicide prevention at the facility;

* access to ECHC staff who are able to answer questions about the premises and processes viewed during the facility inspection;

* interviewing of inmates, outside the presence of ECHC staff or defendants' counsel, on issues of mental health treatment and ...


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