Education

  • J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 2003, Founding Member of Race and Poverty Law Journal
  • B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, high honors, Appalachian State University

Admissions

  • California, 2003
vCard icon

Download vCard
T: 415-433-6830
F: 415-433-7104
E: pgodbold@rbgg.com

Penny Godbold, Of Counsel at Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld, has over 13 years of experience enforcing disability and civil rights judgments in class action cases involving prisoners.  Her focus is on protecting the rights of people with disabilities in California prisons. 

Ms. Godbold is class counsel in Armstrong v. Brown and has served as class counsel in Clark v. California, two state-wide class actions on behalf of thousands of persons with disabilities in California prisons.  Prior to joining the firm she was a staff attorney at Prison Law Office.  Full bio »

vCard icon

Download vCard
T: 415-433-6830
F: 415-433-7104
E: pgodbold@rbgg.com

Penny Godbold, Of Counsel at Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld, has over 13 years of experience enforcing disability and civil rights judgments in class action cases involving prisoners.  Her focus is on protecting the rights of people with disabilities in California prisons. 

Ms. Godbold is class counsel in Armstrong v. Brown and has served as class counsel in Clark v. California, two state-wide class actions on behalf of thousands of persons with disabilities in California prisons.  Prior to joining the firm she was a staff attorney at Prison Law Office.  Ms. Godbold was a member of the investigation and litigation team in Plata v. Brown, in which the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed a lower court order requiring California to significantly reduce its severe prison overcrowding, an accomplishment for which the team was selected as a finalist for the 2010 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award from the Public Justice Foundation.  She has also represented individual prisoners in state court actions challenging conditions of confinement, violations of civil rights and restrictions on religious freedom inside California prisons. 

Ms. Godbold earned her J.D. in 2003 from University of California Hastings College of Law where she graduated with honors and was a founding member of the Race and Poverty Law Journal, a participant in the Civil Justice Clinic and a graduate of the Public Interest Program.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with high honors from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

She has long been interested in human rights and conditions of confinement.  She completed an undergraduate course in international human rights and comparative legal systems at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.  She has twice traveled to Haiti as a member of the Hastings to Haiti Partnership where she has toured Haitian jails and participated in criminal court proceedings.  This fall Ms. Godbold is traveling to Norway as part of the U.S. European Criminal Justice Innovation Program, a delegation of representatives including heads of state corrections departments, judges, law makers, professors and experts on international conditions of incarceration.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES
  • Armstrong v. Newsom: RBGG proved in federal court that California’s prison and parole systems violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by discriminating against prisoners and parolees with mobility, sight, hearing, learning, mental and kidney disabilities. We secured systemwide injunctive relief to end the discrimination, which was upheld on appeal.  See Armstrong v. Wilson, 942 F. Supp. 1252 (N.D. Cal. 1996), aff’d 124 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 1997). We also established that the State is responsible for taking steps to ensure the rights of prisoners and parolees with disabilities are accommodated when it chooses to house them in third-party county jail facilities. See Armstrong v. Brown, 857 F. Supp. 2d 919 (N.D. Cal. 2012), aff’d 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014); and 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010).   The Armstrong litigation has resulted in a series of ground-breaking precedents, including rulings that the ADA does not permit state government agencies to avoid compliance by delegating responsibilities to local governments, and that prisoners cannot be held in solitary confinement solely on account of disability. We are currently working to stop staff misconduct targeting people with disabilities at CDCR.  On September 8, 2020 and March 11, 2021 respectively, Judge Claudia Wilken granted in part our February 2020 and June 2020 motions to stop staff misconduct at six prisons in CDCR.  The Court found that the systemic abuses against incarcerated people with disabilities at—R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility (San Diego, CA)), CSP – Los Angeles County (Lancaster, CA), CSP -Corcoran (Corcoran, CA), Kern Valley State Prison (Delano, CA), Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (Corcoran, CA), and California Institution for Women (Corona, CA) —violate the ADA and prior court orders.  As a remedy, the Court required Defendants to develop plans to install security cameras and use body worn-cameras (BWCs) throughout the six prisons, reform the staff investigation and disciplinary process, and increase supervisory staffing on all yards at the six prisons.  Currently, BWCs are in use at all six prisons; security cameras will be in place by the end of the year.  The Court also appointed an expert to oversee implementation of the mandated reforms.  Armstrong v. Newsom, 484 F.Supp.3d 808 (N.D. Cal. 2020); Armstrong v. Newsom, 2021 WL 933106 (N.D. Cal. 2021).  We are in ongoing negotiations with CDCR administrators regarding system-wide reforms to the staff investigation and discipline system. Relatedly, on July 30, 2020, the Court entered a preliminary injunction to protect two people with disabilities from retaliation by prison guards.  Officers attacked and threatened both people because they had previously reported to RBGG lawyers that officers had abused other incarcerated people incarcerated people with disabilities.  The Court ordered that CDCR transfer these two witnesses from the prison where they had faced assault, threats and other retaliation .  Armstrong v. Newsom, 475 F. Supp. 3d 1038 (N.D. Cal. 2020). 

Education

  • J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 2003, Founding Member of Race and Poverty Law Journal
  • B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, high honors, Appalachian State University

Admissions

  • California, 2003

Professional Experience

  • Staff Attorney, Prison Law Office, 2003-2016

Penny Godbold, Of Counsel at Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld, has over 13 years of experience enforcing disability and civil rights judgments in class action cases involving prisoners.  Her focus is on protecting the rights of people with disabilities in California prisons. 

Ms. Godbold is class counsel in Armstrong v. Brown and has served as class counsel in Clark v. California, two state-wide class actions on behalf of thousands of persons with disabilities in California prisons.  Prior to joining the firm she was a staff attorney at Prison Law Office.  Ms. Godbold was a member of the investigation and litigation team in Plata v. Brown, in which the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed a lower court order requiring California to significantly reduce its severe prison overcrowding, an accomplishment for which the team was selected as a finalist for the 2010 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award from the Public Justice Foundation.  She has also represented individual prisoners in state court actions challenging conditions of confinement, violations of civil rights and restrictions on religious freedom inside California prisons. 

Ms. Godbold earned her J.D. in 2003 from University of California Hastings College of Law where she graduated with honors and was a founding member of the Race and Poverty Law Journal, a participant in the Civil Justice Clinic and a graduate of the Public Interest Program.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with high honors from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

She has long been interested in human rights and conditions of confinement.  She completed an undergraduate course in international human rights and comparative legal systems at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.  She has twice traveled to Haiti as a member of the Hastings to Haiti Partnership where she has toured Haitian jails and participated in criminal court proceedings.  This fall Ms. Godbold is traveling to Norway as part of the U.S. European Criminal Justice Innovation Program, a delegation of representatives including heads of state corrections departments, judges, law makers, professors and experts on international conditions of incarceration.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES
  • Armstrong v. Newsom: RBGG proved in federal court that California’s prison and parole systems violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by discriminating against prisoners and parolees with mobility, sight, hearing, learning, mental and kidney disabilities. We secured systemwide injunctive relief to end the discrimination, which was upheld on appeal.  See Armstrong v. Wilson, 942 F. Supp. 1252 (N.D. Cal. 1996), aff’d 124 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 1997). We also established that the State is responsible for taking steps to ensure the rights of prisoners and parolees with disabilities are accommodated when it chooses to house them in third-party county jail facilities. See Armstrong v. Brown, 857 F. Supp. 2d 919 (N.D. Cal. 2012), aff’d 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014); and 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010).   The Armstrong litigation has resulted in a series of ground-breaking precedents, including rulings that the ADA does not permit state government agencies to avoid compliance by delegating responsibilities to local governments, and that prisoners cannot be held in solitary confinement solely on account of disability. We are currently working to stop staff misconduct targeting people with disabilities at CDCR.  On September 8, 2020 and March 11, 2021 respectively, Judge Claudia Wilken granted in part our February 2020 and June 2020 motions to stop staff misconduct at six prisons in CDCR.  The Court found that the systemic abuses against incarcerated people with disabilities at—R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility (San Diego, CA)), CSP – Los Angeles County (Lancaster, CA), CSP -Corcoran (Corcoran, CA), Kern Valley State Prison (Delano, CA), Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (Corcoran, CA), and California Institution for Women (Corona, CA) —violate the ADA and prior court orders.  As a remedy, the Court required Defendants to develop plans to install security cameras and use body worn-cameras (BWCs) throughout the six prisons, reform the staff investigation and disciplinary process, and increase supervisory staffing on all yards at the six prisons.  Currently, BWCs are in use at all six prisons; security cameras will be in place by the end of the year.  The Court also appointed an expert to oversee implementation of the mandated reforms.  Armstrong v. Newsom, 484 F.Supp.3d 808 (N.D. Cal. 2020); Armstrong v. Newsom, 2021 WL 933106 (N.D. Cal. 2021).  We are in ongoing negotiations with CDCR administrators regarding system-wide reforms to the staff investigation and discipline system. Relatedly, on July 30, 2020, the Court entered a preliminary injunction to protect two people with disabilities from retaliation by prison guards.  Officers attacked and threatened both people because they had previously reported to RBGG lawyers that officers had abused other incarcerated people incarcerated people with disabilities.  The Court ordered that CDCR transfer these two witnesses from the prison where they had faced assault, threats and other retaliation .  Armstrong v. Newsom, 475 F. Supp. 3d 1038 (N.D. Cal. 2020).