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Washington Civil Commitment Injunction Reaffirmed; No Appellate Jurisdiction to Review Contempt Sanctions

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed their ruling
upholding the so-called "Turay Injunction" but refused to hear an appeal of $10 million.,
in contempt sanctions against the defendants due to lack of jurisdiction.

Richard Turay is one of many sex offenders civilly committed as sexually violent predators (SVP) pursuant to RCW §71.09. With Turay at the lead, several brought suit in 1992 challenging the conditions of confinement. In 1994 the plaintiffs prevailed on their claim of inadequate mental health treatment. An injunction was entered, a special master was appointed, and years of battling to enforce the injunction ensued. The defendants settled damage claims and ultimately had the injunction dissolved and avoided paying $10 million in contempt sanctions by finally improving the adequacy of the mental health treatment. See Cunningham v. Weston, 180 Fed. Appx. 644 (9th Cir. 2006).

In this particular ruling, the defendants attempted another shot at appealing the 1998 modification to the injunction. The Court reaffirmed by giving preclusive effect to its prior ruling upholding the injunction. See: Sharp v. Weston, 233 F.3d 1166 (9th Cir. 2000). The Court then found it lacked jurisdiction to review the district court's finding the defendants in contempt and imposing sanctions. The district court's order did not constitute a modification of the injunction nor did it meet the jurisdictional standard of the collateral order doctrine.
The order left the issue of sanctions "open, unfinished or inconclusive" and is thus not a final appealable order. See: Turay v. Anderson. 12 Fed.. Appx. 618 (9th Cir. 2001).

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Related legal case

Turay v. Anderson