Update:  The case has been set for oral argument on November 30, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday, June 14, 2010 that it will review whether California must bring its prison population under control to end years of life-threatening failures in medical and mental health care.  The case will be argued in the court’s next term that begins in October. The case is Schwarzenegger v. Plata, 09-1233.

Michael Bien of Rosen, Bien & Galvan and Donald Specter of Prison Law Office are co-lead counsel for plaintiffs who had successfully proved at trial in 2009 that reducing prison overcrowding in California was the only way to improve the state’s unconstitutional prison health care system.  The trial team also proved that the prison population could be brought under control in ways that improve public safety and reduce California’s extremely high recidivism rates. Specter commented in an AP report that “”The court didn’t do anything that Governor Schwarzenegger hadn’t tried to do through the Legislature. We don’t really know why he’s appealing, since he recognized that crowding is destroying the prison system and creating a sinkhole for taxpayers.”

In August 2009, a special federal three-judge panel ordered the state to develop a plan to reduce the state prison population by up to 40,000 prisoners within two years. Even with that reduction, the state prisons would still be at more than 137% capacity.  In January 2010, the three-judge panel approved the Schwarzenegger Administration’s plan to get the prison population under control, but the court postponed implementation of the plan, pending the Supreme Court appeal.

Rosen, Bien & Galvan has added former solicitor general and King & Spalding partner Paul Clement to the legal team on the Coleman case to argue the case before the Supreme Court, representing the class of prisoners suing California over inadequate mental health care.

According to a report in The Recorder on June 15, 2010: “We’re very happy to have him on board,” said Ernest Galvan of Rosen, Bien & Galvan.  The San Francisco firm has directed the mental health portion of the prison litigation for 20 years and decided to bring Clement on board for the U.S. Supreme Court action.”