Finding Aid to the People vs. Owen Bathhouse Closure Litigation Records, 1984-1987

Finding aid prepared by Wendy Kramer
San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA, 94102
(415) 557-4567
info@sfpl.org
2008


Title: People vs. Owen Bathhouse Closure Litigation Records
Date (inclusive): 1984-1987
Collection Identifier: SFH 31
Creator: San Francisco (Calif.). Bureau of Communicable Disease Control.
Physical Description: 1 carton (1.0 cubic feet)
Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA, 94102
(415) 557-4567
info@sfpl.org
Abstract: Court documents and other records related to the case People of the State of California, ex rel. George Agnost, et al. vs. Ima Jean Owen, et al. (Superior Court No. 830-321), aka People vs. Owen, filed October 10, 1984, by San Francisco City Attorney George Agnost and Director of Public Health Mervyn Silverman, in an effort to close fourteen bathhouses, sex clubs, bookstores, and adult movie theaters by claiming them to be a public nuisance, in response to the burgeoning AIDS epidemic.
Physical Location: The collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.

Access

The collection is open for research. Please call the San Francisco History Center for hours and information at 415-557-4567.
Four confidential documents written between City Attorneys and Department of Public Health officials are restricted from public access.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], People vs. Owen Bathhouse Closure Litigation Records, 1984-1987 (SFH 31), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Provenance

The collection was acquired via an anonymous donation December 18, 1996.

Related Archival Materials

Researchers are encouraged to see also AIDS Office of the San Francisco Department of Public Health Records, 1982-1994 (SFH 4).

Related Publications

Researchers are encouraged to see also "The San Francisco Bathhouse Battles of 1984: Civil Liberties, AIDS Risk, and Shifts in Health Policy." Disman, Christopher. Co-published simultaneously in Journal of Homosexuality, (Harrington Park Press, an imprint of The Haworth Press, Inc.) Vol. 44, Nos. ¾, 2003, pp. 71-129; and Gay Bathhouses and Public Health Policy, (ed. William J. Woods and Diane Binson) Harrington Park Press, an imprint of The Haworth Press, Inc., 2003, pp. 71-129.

Conservation Note

During processing, the entire collection was re-foldered and re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Some metal staples remain.

Biographical/Historical note

The court case People of the State of California, ex rel. George Agnost, et al. vs. Ima Jean Owen, et al. (Superior Court No. 830-321), aka People vs. Owen, filed Oct. 10, 1984 by San Francisco City Attorney George Agnost and Director of Public Health Mervyn Silverman, documents the efforts of the San Francisco Department of Public Health to close fourteen bathhouses, sex clubs, bookstores, and adult movie theaters by claiming them to be a public nuisance, as a response to the then-new knowledge of sexual methods of AIDS transmission. More broadly, the case positions San Francisco in a local and ultimately national public debate over AIDS–related policies in the 1980s, in which city officials, community activists, and private citizens struggle with the relationship between public health and gay civil rights.
Defendant businesses in the original Oct. 10 complaint were: The Academy; The Animals; The Boot Camp; Club Baths of San Francisco; California Baths Corp.; Club San Francisco; Folsom Gulch Books; Gartman Enterprises; Jack's Turkish Baths; Jaguar Book Store; The Savages Theater; San Francisco Health Club; Tea Room Theater; The Slot Hotel; The Baths.
Although the provenance of this collection is unknown, based on the organization and original notations on the material, the records appear to be from the files of Dean Echenberg, then-Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the material consists of copies of pleadings filed by both plaintiffs and defendants, including declarations of physicians, public health experts, and investigators, upon which the City based its application for a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunction to enforce Dr. Silverman's closure order of Oct. 9, 1984; along with subsequent court filings, including writs of supersedeas, a summons, the modified preliminary injunction, depositions, supplemental declarations, exhibits, and a defendants' first set of interrogatories. There is also some case-related correspondence, including letters, memos, articles, and investigative reports, between city officials, law firms, private investigators, and community organizations. Some correspondence concerns proposed legislation to transfer jurisdiction for bathhouses from the Police Code to the Health Code.
The declarations in support of the bathhouse closures are of particular interest, as they reflect a representative set of medical and official points of view on businesses that facilitate public gay sex and the relationship of these businesses to the spread of AIDS. Declarants include Mervyn Silverman, Director of Public Health (DPH); Dean Echenberg, Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control at DPH; faculty and administrators at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), Mount Zion Hospital, the AIDS Activities Office, San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, California State Department of Health Services, the Center for Disease Control; and several private investigators.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in two series: Series 1. Sex clubs/Bathhouses Subject Files, 1984-1986; Series 2. Court documents, 1984-1987. Series 2 is arranged chronologically.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

San Francisco (Calif.). Bureau of Communicable Disease Control. -- Archives
AIDS (Disease)--California--San Francisco--History
AIDS (Disease)--Epidemiology
AIDS (Disease)--Government policy--California--San Francisco
AIDS (Disease)--Political aspects
Civil court records
Gay bathhouses--California--San Francisco.
Gay men--Sexual behavior--Government policy--California--San Francisco.
Echenberg, Dean Fredric

Box 1, Folder 1-2

Series 1 Sex Clubs/Bathhouses Subject Files, 1984-1986

 

Series 2 Court Documents, 1984-1987

Scope and Contents

Copies of court documents from People vs. Owen, with a small amount of interfiled correspondence and filing notes.
Box 1, Folder 3

Summons to Jaguar Book Store, October 10, 1984

Box 1, Folder 4

Complaint for permanent injunction, preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order, October 10, 1984

Box 1, Folder 5

Declarations in support of application for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order (Vol. I, Silverman-Conant), October 10, 1984

Box 1, Folder 6

Declarations in support of application for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order (Vol. I, Volberding-Goldsmith), October 10, 1984

Box 1, Folder 7

Declarations in support of application for preliminary injunction and for temporary restraining order (Vol. II), October 10, 1984

Box 1, Folder 8

Declaration of Dr. Dean Echenberg, October 10, 1984

Box 1, Folder 9

Order to show cause re preliminary injunction, October 16, 1984

Box 1, Folder 10

Petition for writ of supersedeas after grant of temporary restraining order, October 16, 1984

Box 1, Folder 11

Exhibits to petition for writ of supersedeas, October 16, 1984

Box 1, Folder 12

Notice of taking deposition and request for production of documents, October 24, 1984

Box 1, Folder 13

Notice of taking deposition records only, October 24, 1984

Box 1, Folder 14-15

Deposition of Dean F. Echenberg, M.D., October 29, 1984

Box 1, Folder 16

Declarations in support of opposition to preliminary injunction, November 6, 1984

Box 1, Folder 17

Supplemental declaration of Dean Echenberg, November 9, 1984

Box 1, Folder 18

Supplemental declaration of Mervyn Silverman, November 14, 1984

Box 1, Folder 19-21

Memorandum of points and authorities in opposition to issuance of preliminary injunction, November 14, 1984

Box 1, Folder 22

Preliminary injunction, November 28, 1984

Box 1, Folder 23

Modified preliminary injunction, December 21, 1984

Box 1, Folder 24

Petition for a writ of supersedeas after grant of modified preliminary injunction, June 3, 1985

Box 1, Folder 25

Discovery requests from bathhouse operators, with accompanying letter from City Attorney George Agnost and Chief Trial Deputy Philip S. Ward to Dean Echenberg, June 21, 1985

Box 1, Folder 26

Court documents re: motion for further modification of preliminary injunction, March 4, 1986

Box 1, Folder 27

Investigative report and court documents re: order to show cause re: contempt, April 1987

Box 1, Folder 28

Memorandum of points and authorities in support of order to show cause re contempt, with copy of modified preliminary injunction, May 4, 1987