Kerr v. United States District Court for the Northern District of California
United States Supreme Court
426 U.S. 394 (1976)
Seven prisoners in the custody of the California penal system (prisoners) (plaintiff) sued various entities within the California state penal system (California) (defendant) alleging constitutional violations in determining the length and conditions of prison sentences. The suit was brought in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The prisoners sought to represent in a class action all prisoners currently held in the California penal system. During discovery, the prisoners made two significant production requests. The first was for all personnel records and documents dealing with the operations of the California Adult Authority, one of the defendants. The prisoners also requested the prisoner files of every twentieth prisoner in the California penal system, to represent a sample of the prison population in the state. California objected to the production request and the prisoners filed a motion to compel. In both production requests, California argued that the contents of the files were privileged and were thus barred from production. The district court granted the motions to compel. However, the Adult Authority files were only to be reviewed by counsel of record for the prisoners along with no more than two investigators employed by the prisoners. The court also ordered that two hundred prisoner files be produced by California. A similar confidentiality order was also issued as to the prisoner files. Additionally, no file would be turned over to the prisoners without the consent of the prisoner to whom the file belonged. California sought a writ of mandamus in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to halt the production of documents. The court of appeals denied the petition. California appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 166,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.