California's legal efforts to end federal oversight of prison mental health care have run into trouble with the U.S. district judge hearing that case a second time.
In an order filed Monday, Judge Lawrence Karlton asked California to explain why he should not throw out statements of four of the state's expert witnesses, who contend they found adequate mental health care in the 10 prisons they toured.
Lawyers for prisoners contend the experts' testimony was based on secret tours of the state's prisons that were organized in 2011, without notifying plaintiffs or the court. Given that the court required prior prison tours to be conducted jointly, Karlton wrote, "common sense should have suggested" the same order would apply to future tours.
In addition, prisoners' lawyers object that those experts were free to interview their legal clients — inmates — without their presence. Inmate lawyers say that is a "violation of professional ethical obligations."