AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
Access to Legal Information and Courts
Monthly Law Journal Article: Access to Courts and Legal Information, 2007 (1) AELE Mo. L.J. 301.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Prisoner Restraint and Court Appearances, 2017 (11) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
An Illinois prisoner claimed that 43 prison employees and the Illinois Department of Corrections obstructed his access to the courts at four different facilities over a period of seven years. Actions objected to included insufficient access to law libraries and to his excess legal storage boxes, inability to send mail required to pursue his litigation, and denial of supplies. The trial court dismissed a number of defendants and claims, then entering summary judgment for the rest of the defendants. A federal appeals court upheld this result. The plaintiff’s strongest claim, that prison officials refused to advance him money for legal mail in 2006-2010 was untimely and barred by the statute of limitations. The appeals court also noted that “Owens—no stranger to the courts in this circuit—again filed an omnibus complaint against unrelated defendants and with claims arising from alleged conduct at four different prisons. As we have told him before, this scattershot strategy is unacceptable under Rule 20(a)(2) … and the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. 1915(b), (g).” Owens v. Evans, #16-1645, 2017 U.S. App. Lexis 26848 (7th Cir.).
Although there is no automatic right for a pro se prisoner to have a court recruit a lawyer for them, their request for counsel is entitled to careful consideration. In this case, the trial court abused its discretion in failing to recruit counsel for him. It found that he had made reasonable efforts to obtain counsel, and that he stated that he had only an eighth grade education and was heavily medicated with psychotropic drugs. The trial court did not address or specifically conclude that it disbelieved his explanation that another inmate helped him prepare the documents that it looked at as evidence of his ability to litigate his case himself. Concretely, he claimed that guards beat him and taunted him with racial slurs as punishment for filing grievances. These claims were dismissed by the trial court because these claims about the incident conflicted with his disciplinary record. The suit would not have been barred had he argued that the guards used more force than was reasonably necessary to subdue him, but he “plead[ed] himself out of court” by insisting that he did nothing to provoke the beating. An appointed lawyer may have been able to avoid this result. Robinson v. Scrogum, #16-3363, 2017 U.S. App. Lexis 24434 (7th Cir.).
The trial court denied an inmate’s motion for appointed counsel on his excessive force claim against a guard, ruling that he had failed to show that he had made a reasonable attempt to obtain a lawyer. He failed to respond to interrogatories and repeatedly renewed his request for a lawyer, and ultimately the case was dismissed. A federal appeals court recruited a lawyer for him and reversed. It held that the interrogatories that he failed to respond to were above his comprehension, that he did not have a fair opportunity to pursue his potentially meritorious case, given his “severe” intellectual handicaps and his apparently diligent efforts to obtain a lawyer, evidenced by the record of his mail to and from law firms seeking assistance. The guard was entitled to argue a defense of failure to exhaust available administrative remedies, but insisting on a response from the inmate when the inmate had no lawyer amounted to cruel harassment of a mental defective. Davis v. Moroney, #16-2471, 2017 U.S.App. Lexis 8903 (7th Cir.).
An Idaho prisoner filed a federal civil
rights lawsuit claiming that prison employees on four occasions had opened
legal mail before it was delivered to him rather than opening it in his
presence. He asserted that there was a policy or custom of ignoring the
improper handling of legal mail. The
trial court dismissed the complaint at the pre-screening stage under 28 U.S.C.
1915A. A federal appeals court found that two of the four claims should not
have been dismissed. Prisoners do have a protected First Amendment interest in
having properly marked legal mail opened only in their presence and a plaintiff
need not allege a longstanding practice of violating his First Amendment rights
in order to state a claim for relief on a direct liability theory. Additionally,
a plaintiff need not show any actual injury beyond the free speech violation
itself to state a constitutional claim. The other two claims were properly
dismissed, as the prisoner had not met the burden of showing that those items
were legal mail. Mail from the United States courts, as opposed to from an
attorney, is not legal mail that must be opened in the prisoner’s presence.
Hayes v. Idaho Correctional Center, #14-35078, 2017 U.S.App. Lexis 3851
An Illinois prisoner claimed that while he was being transferred to a new facility, officers subjected him to excessive force and failure to protect by lifting him over their heads and throwing him, head first, into a van. He claimed that this was their reaction to his request to be placed in a prison where he had no known enemies. He also claimed that other prisoners were allowed to refuse transfers on that basis. The officers disputed these claims. A federal appeals court upheld a verdict for the officers. It rejected the argument that he was entitled to a new trial because the trial court denied him a continuance after his attorney withdrew on the eve of trial. It also denied his request for an appointed lawyer as his past litigation experience and submitted pleadings showed that he was competent to represent himself. Jackson v. Willis, #14-3226, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 23282 (7th Cir.).
A prisoner litigant only had access to a prison law library for a few hours per week. The trial court gave him 21 days to seek discovery in a pending case and to obtain and review responses that were not even due within the 21 days and also respond to the defendants' motion for dismissal or summary judgment. Because of these circumstances, he asked for additional time to respond to the defendants' motion. The trial court did not respond to the request for additional time, so he was compelled to respond to the motion without the benefit of the requested discovery. A federal appeals court held that the trial court should have granted the prisoner's request for additional time, and failure to do so was an abuse of discretion. Rachel v. Troutt, #15-6104, 820 F.3d 390 (10th Cir. 2016).
A trial court abused its discretion in denying a prisoner's request for an appointed lawyer in his lawsuit over prison conditions on the basis that it had no funds to pay one and could find "no attorneys in the area willing or able to take the case pro bono.” A federal appeals court ruled that the trial court had an inherent power to order an attorney to accept an uncompensated appointment under these circumstances. On remand, the trial court must consider whether appointment of a lawyer is warranted, rather than based its decision on either funding or the willingness of an attorney to work without compensation. Additionally, the trial court acted erroneously in granting the defendants summary judgment as the plaintiff was undoubtedly hindered in his ability to respond to a complex summary judgment motion by the denial of his request for a lawyer. Naranjo v. Thompson, #13-50541, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 19799 (5th Cir.).
A federal appeals court rejected a death row prisoner's claim that a warden violated her due process rights by ordering prison staff members not to talk to members of her legal team gathering evidence in support of her application for clemency. The due process clause of the Constitution does not guarantee state prisoners the right to acquire and present testimony from prison staff in support of an application for clemency, nor prevent state officials from limiting prisoners' access to such testimony. Gissendaner v. Commissioner, GA D.O.C., #15-10884, 794 F.3d 1327 (11th Cir. 2015).
An intermediate California appeals court ruled that a trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering that confidential attorney-client contact visits be made available at a jail in the absence of circumstances justifying the suspension of such visits in individual cases because of unreasonable security risks. The ruling came in a lawsuit challenging a jail policy providing that lawyers would no longer be able to meet face-to-face with incarcerated clients in visiting rooms without glass partitions, but would instead be required to meet in glass partitioned visiting rooms and speak over a telephone. County of Nevada v. Super. Ct. (Siegfried), #C074504, 236 Cal. App. 4th 1001, 2015 Cal. App. Lexis 412
A Wisconsin prisoner sought state post-conviction relief from his criminal conviction, which was denied by the state trial court and intermediate appeals court. He applied for a loan from the prison under a state law allowing inmates to borrow up to $100 annually for the cost of paper, photocopying, and postage, intending to use it to further appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The prison business office denied the request. The prisoner sought federal habeas relief, claiming that the allegedly wrongful denial of his loan request, which he asserted he had been eligible for, prevented him from pursuing his claim in the state supreme court. A federal appeals court upheld a rejection of the argument that the denial of the loan should excuse his procedural default in failing to follow through with his claim in the state supreme court. A federal court could not excuse such a procedural default based on its own interpretation of a state prison policy without guidance from state courts. The plaintiff also failed to show that the denial of his loan request was an objective, external impediment to his compliance with the state court's procedural requirements, and it appeared that he had funds available to pursue his claim even without the loan. Johnson v. Foster, #13-2008, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 7516 (7th Cir.).
A death row prisoner stated a claim for violation of his Sixth Amendment rights when he alleged that a prison guard read a letter he sent to his lawyer, rather than only scanning it for contraband. He further alleged that prison officials wrongfully claimed that they were entitled to read his legal mail, and that he had been chilled as to his ability to privately consult with his attorney. Because he remained incarcerated and adequately alleged that such reading could occur again, he stated a claim for injunctive relief. Nordstrom v. Ryan, #12-15738, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 15388 (9th Cir.).
Detainees at Guantanamo claimed that two new policies there placed an undue burden on their ability to meet with their attorneys. The policies related to where they were allowed to meet with lawyers, while the second involved the thoroughness of the search they had to submit to before attorney visits. A federal appeals court upheld both policies as reasonable and related to legitimate security concerns. "Tenuous" evidence of an improper motive to obstruct access to lawyers could not overcome the legitimate rational connection between the thorough searches and the security needs of the facility, and holding all meetings between detainees and their visitors, including lawyers, at a special camp away from the housing camps, was reasonable, as fewer guards were then needed. Hatim v. Obama, #13-5218, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 14759 (D.C. Cir.).
A prisoner submitted a number of requests for healthcare for his bloodshot left eye, but was allegedly released on parole without receiving treatment. Upon release, he underwent laser surgery for glaucoma in his right eye, but continued to have problems with his left eye. When he was reincarcerated, he made several more attempts to receive treatment, and finally underwent surgery to remove part of his left eye's ciliary body three years later. In his lawsuit claiming deliberate indifference to his glaucoma condition, the trial court denied repeated requests for an appointed lawyer, finding that his claims were not meritorious or overly complex. A federal appeals court found that this denial of appointed counsel was an abuse of discretion and that this abuse impacted on the prisoner's ability to develop and litigate his claim. DeWitt v. Corizon, Inc., #13-2930, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 14236 (7th Cir.).
The trial court abused its discretion in denying a motion for an attorney to represent an indigent inmate in his deliberate indifference to serious medical needs lawsuit. The inmate had a low IQ, was functionally illiterate and was inexperienced with civil litigation, as well as currently incarcerated. Additionally, the case was legally complex, and reliance on a "jailhouse lawyer" would be inadequate, especially in relation to the need to engage a necessary medical expert. The prisoner was also incapable of obtaining other witnesses and evidence needed to prevail, so the failure to provide him with a lawyer prejudiced him. Henderson v. Ghosh, #13-2035, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 11816 (7th Cir.).
A prisoner proceeding pro se in a federal civil right lawsuit seeking damages from prison officials suffered from a schizoaffective disorder. The trial court erred in declining to appoint a guardian ad litem to help him pursue his claim and instead staying the proceedings until the prisoner was found to be restored to competency and therefore capable of protecting his own interests, which might never occur. This amounted to a dismissal with prejudice and did not adequately protect the prisoner's interests. Davis v. Walker, #12-15856, 745 F.3d 1303 (9th Cir.2014).
A prisoner who had been released from custody pursued a lawsuit asserting claims for deliberate indifference to his mental health needs, violations of his right to exercise his religion, and interference with his right of access to the courts. A federal appeals court held that his claims for declaratory and injunctive relief were moot as he was no longer in custody. His claim concerning his mental health treatment boiled down with a mere disagreement with the treatment provided, which was inadequate for a federal civil rights claim. His claims concerning religious freedom and access to the courts were properly dismissed, as he failed to exhaust available administrative remedies concerning these issues, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Lastly, he was properly denied an appointed lawyer as he was unlikely to succeed on the merits and was able to present the case adequately by himself. Cano v. Taylor, #10-17030, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 703 (9th Cir.).
An indigent prisoner in Alaska claimed that the dismissal of appeals from his prison disciplinary actions violated his constitutional right of access to the courts, since he lacked the means to pay even a reduced filing fee. Reinstating the appeals, the Alaska Supreme Court held that the statute as applied prevented him from exercising his right of access to the courts in violation of the due process clause of the state constitution. Barber v. Alaska Dept. of Corrections, #S-14475, 314 P.3d 58 (Alaska 2013).
A prisoner engaged in a hunger strike to protest what he claimed was unwarranted prison discipline was supposed to be placed in a separate cell after missing three meals. He claimed that two prison employees put him in an isolated cell, holding him down while two others retaliated against him for his hunger strike and a previous grievance he had filed against an officer by punching him in the stomach. He sued, acting as his own lawyer, and the defendants denied that any assault took place. The plaintiff was sent back to prison to wait for the jury's verdict rather than keeping him at the courthouse. A verdict for the defendants was returned, but the prisoner was not immediately notified. A federal appeals court ruled that the plaintiff's total exclusion from the courtroom when the jurors returned had denied him the right to poll the jury, which might have made a difference. Even without it, a juror said that they were convinced that the defendants had been involved in what happened to the plaintiff but that they could not find the defendants liable because of a lack of evidence. Verser v. Corr. Officer Robinson, #11-2091, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 25322 (7th Cir.).
After a prisoner suing pro se was denied the right to proceed as a pauper because of his past record of filing numerous meritless or frivolous lawsuits in both state and federal court, the trial court entered an order restricting him from filing any more pro se lawsuits. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island vacated that order, finding that it violated the prisoner's constitutional right of access to the courts. Laurence v. R.I. Dep't of Corrections, #12-197, 68 A.3d 543, 2013 R.I. Lexis 112.
A prisoner accused officials of interfering with his access to the court by first confiscating and then destroying his legal papers, doing so in retaliation for an early lawsuit he had filed concerning medical care. A federal appeals court upheld summary judgment for the defendants, pointing out that the prisoner failed to produce evidence either that the defendants acted for retaliatory motives or actually destroyed his papers. Instead, there was evidence that the prisoner created a fire hazard by stacking excess property, including the papers, near his bed. Officials had allowed him to keep some legal materials and he had stored the rest of them, and officials were actually unaware of his pending lawsuit. The prisoner did not submit any evidence to refute this version of events. Devbrow v. Gallegos, #13-1627, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 22278 (7th Cir.).
Summary judgment was properly granted for a defendant prison official on a prisoner's unlawful retaliation claim. The prisoner's action in serving the prison official with a lawsuit summons and complaint on behalf of another prisoner was not constitutionally protected activity either on the basis of the right of access to the courts or the First Amendment. Blaisdell v. Frappiea, #10-16845, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis18782 (9th Cir.).
A trial court improperly granted summary judgment to a prison guard in a pretrial detainee's lawsuit for failing to protect him from being stabbed by another inmate. The plaintiff stated that the guard let inmates who were supposed to be in their cells locked up out and let them congregate in a darkened corridor after which she left her post, so that over 20 maximum security prisoners were milling around without supervision. If true, this could give rise to an inference of a conscious disregard of a significant risk of violence. Counsel should have been appointed for the prisoner because the case, while not complex, required evidence that the plaintiff had no access to, such as the need to depose the guard, after the prisoner was transferred 300 miles away. The prisoner should have also been allowed to testify as to having overheard other pisoners in the dayroom ask the guard to let others out of their cells to join them in the dayroom. Junior v. Anderson, #11-2999, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 15573 (7th Cir.).
A correctional officer was not entitled to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity for failing to protect a detainee at a county jail against being attacked by three prisoners. There was evidence that the detainee's cellmate had told the officer that the detainee was in danger and that the officer had promised to "talk to the lieutenant and see what can be done." From this evidence, a reasonable jury could find that the officer perceived that there was a serious risk to the detainee's safety. If that was true and the officer then failed to discuss the matter with the lieutenant, that could be found to constitute deliberate indifference. The lieutenant, however, was entitled to qualified immunity, as there was no evidence that he knew anything about a risk of harm to the detainee. Glaze v. Andrews, #12-2022, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 14625 (8th Cir.).
A federal appeals court agreed with a prisoner's contention that, in cases where an untimely motion in a federal civil rights case could be shown to have been caused by a mail delay within a prison, the motion would be considered timely. In this case, his underlying claim, that defendants conspired to obtain a murder conviction against him through the use of false evidence and deliberately preventing him from obtaining DNA evidence that would have shown his innocence, was barred by the fact that his conviction had not been set aside. Long v. Atlantic City Police Dep't, #06-4732, 670 F.3d 436 (3rd Cir.).
Persons civilly committed to a state sex offender program failed to show that their rights were violated by the use of restraints during transport, or unclothed visual body searches. The searches were justified by institutional security concerns, and the policy of restraining sex offenders during transport was a valid exercise of professional judgment. There was no evidence that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to the plaintiffs' health, safety, and sanitation concerns. There was also no showing that the alleged improper opening of their legal mail interfered with their access to the court or that monitoring their phone calls was not justified by security concerns. Beaulieu v. Ludeman, #11–1845, 690 F.3d 1017 (8th Cir.)
A jury's award of $1,500 to a prisoner on his claim that a delay in his dental treatment constituted deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition was supported by substantial evidence. $1,000 of the award was for punitive damages. The law on delaying needed dental treatment was clearly established in 2003, so there was no right to qualified immunity. The prisoner, despite his success, appealed, among other things, the trial court's refusal to give him an appointed lawyer. While the case may have been somewhat complicated, his very success in being awarded damages showed that it was no abuse of discretion not to appoint a lawyer for him. An expert witness was not needed to explain to the jury the pain and suffering caused by the delay, and there were really no complex or scientific issues involved. Woods v. Carey, #09-15548, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 13797 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
A prisoner suing pro se, claiming inadequate medical care, was entitled to be given a written notice as to what was required to defeat motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. Those notices must be served on him at the same time as the motions, in order to allow him "fair, timely and adequate notice" of what he is required to do to respond to those motions to preserve his claims. Notices served on him before such motions are filed do not sufficiently serve that purpose. Woods v. Carey, #09–15548, 684 F.3d 934 (9th Cir.).
When a court is presented with evidence from a mental health professional that unrepresented prisoner litigants in a civil lawsuit seeking damages from prison officials may be incompetent, it is a violation of the court's duty under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(c)(2) to not at least consider whether an attorney should be appointed for the prisoner. That rule obligates the court to protect unrepresented people who are incompetent. In one case, a psychiatric report presented enough evidence of incompetence to make it an abuse of discretion not to appoint a representative. In another, a psychiatrist's letter at least required that the court consider the issue. Powell v. Symons, #10–2157, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 6467 (3rd Cir.).
Because a prisoner had a constitutional right to access to the courts that extended beyond his filing of the initial complaint, the trial court erroneously dismissed the plaintiff's right to access claim. He alleged that prison officials actively interfered with his ability to pursue his civil claims by repeatedly transferring him to different facilities, resulting in the dismissal of several of his lawsuits. The appeals court disagreed with the trial court's ruling that a prisoner's constitutional right of access to the courts "ends once a prisoner has brought his petition or complaint to the court." Silva v. Di Vittorio, #08-15620, 658 F.3d 1090 (9th Cir. 2011).
A prisoner claimed that when a prison law library switched from use of print publications to the use of Lexis-Nexis computerized legal research, it violated his constitutional right of access to the court because he was never given instruction as to how to use the new system A federal appeals court, however, rejected the claim that he had been denied access to the courts, noting that he had been successful so far in handling his pending federal civil rights litigation with the resources currently at his disposal. The fact that he was able to file multiple motions in court showed that any curtailment of his access to the law library while he was in a special housing unit had not resulted in any actual prejudice in his claims. McCree v. Grissom, #11-1524, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 19281 (7th Cir.).
A prisoner argued that prison officials violated his right of access to the courts by confiscating photos that were part of his trial record that had been mailed to him by his attorney. The reason that was given for the confiscation was that the photos were sexually explicit. They were close-ups of the alleged injuries to his minor victim's genitals. A federal appeals court, upholding the rejection of the prisoner's claim, noted that the prisoner failed to show that denying him access to the photographs prevented him from raising a meritorious legal issue in his criminal appeal. Additionally, opening his legal mail outside of the prisoner's presence, for the purpose of inspecting it for contraband, did not violate his rights. Clemons v. Monroe, #10-50629, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 8018 (Unpub. 5th Cir.).
A "jailhouse lawyer" who claimed that he was transferred to an out-of-state prison in retaliation for his activities on behalf of other prisoners and for pursuing his own grievances failed to show that there was a causal relationship between these admittedly protected activities and his transfer. Instead, there was evidence that the transfer elsewhere was the result of the prisoner having accumulated a number of "separations," which the court characterized as "a term used to indicate the existence of a placement conflict counseling against assignment of one inmate to the same institution as another inmate or staff member." Hannon v. Beard, #10-1792, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 11549 (1st Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that personnel at a county detention facility violated his rights by losing or keeping from him important legal documents in his mail that he needed for his defense to probation violation charges in a criminal case unrelated to his current incarceration. The lawsuit was properly dismissed, as the prisoner failed to allege that the improper opening of his legal mail prejudiced his defense, that opened mail was improperly returned to senders in violation of institutional policies, or that the policies in place were unconstitutional. Gutierrez v. Torres, #10-2183, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 5983 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
Despite a prisoner's claim that he could not obtain the legal materials he needed to assert his claims about a beating by a corrections officer and inadequate medical care for resulting injury, the record showed that he was granted several extensions of time, but failed to communicate with the court until the month after he obtained the materials in question. Under these circumstances, the dismissal of his lawsuit for failure to obtain service on defendant corrections officers was upheld. McGrew v. McQueen, #09-30937, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 4852 (5th Cir.).
A Wisconsin prisoner was denied receipt of a three-volume set of law books that he ordered through the mail and which cost $110. A prison rule restricted the receipt of any one item of property to a value of $75. The prisoner argued that the set constituted three items, each of which cost less than $75. A federal appeals court rejected the claim that denying him receipt of the set violated his First Amendment rights. Some defendants were not personally involved in the decision to withhold the books, while others were protected by qualified immunity, as the inmate had no clearly established right to receive the materials in violation of a rule about the monetary value of property received. Hohol v. Jess, #10-1280, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 6138 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A prisoner's lawsuit claiming that a facility had a policy of requiring prisoners to leave their legal mail with the prison library staff for review for up to three days to read outside the prisoner's presence before furnishing them, if indigent, with photocopies of legal documents they need states a claim for violation of prisoner rights and should not have been rejected without further scrutiny. Washington v. Davis, #09-2080, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 6414 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
Prisoner's claims that prison officials and employees treated him with hostility, left false notes in his cell, and seized his bags of legal materials, thereby preventing him from filing legitimate grievances, all in retaliation for complaining about prison conditions, were more than minimal violations of his rights, if true, and should have been examined by a fact-finder rather than dismissed. Kennedy v. Bonevelle, #09-2289, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 4157 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
A prisoner, whose telephone privileges were suspended, because of his rule violations, five days before his plea hearing, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming that this denied him his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The days just prior to the plea hearing did not qualify as a "critical stage" of his criminal prosecution, and he did not suffer a complete denial of access to counsel during the entire pretrial period. Further, his rule violations affected security and safety at the jail. Stamper v. Campbell County, #09-5973, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 5644 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
An Illinois prisoner claimed that prison authorities violated his rights, including a right of access to the courts, by subjecting him to discipline for violation of a rule barring him from possession of other inmates' property, specifically their legal materials. He contended that this violated a general First Amendment right to function as a "jailhouse lawyer," which he was prevented from doing, as his legal papers, books, and administrative materials were confiscated. The right of access to the courts "does not confer unconditional privileges to retain legal documents belonging to others. The right of access to courts is violated only when a prisoner is denied access and suffers actual injury as a result." Since the prisoner could not show that any such injury occurred, his claim was rejected. Green v. Walker, #10-1536, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 21787 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A prisoner housed in a cell with a window claimed that an officer refused, on five separate occasions, to turn on the lights in his cell at 7 a.m. as required by department policy, depriving him of artificial lighting in his cell during daylight hours for a total of eight hours over a seven-month period. After he filed grievances against the officer for this, the officer allegedly retaliated by calling the prisoner a "snitch" in front of other inmates, and filed a false disciplinary report against him. A federal appeals court found that the trial court erroneously dismissed the retaliation claim because the prisoner was not actually disciplined, as the retaliatory filing of false disciplinary charges is enough to be the basis for a retaliation claim. Falsely labeling the plaintiff a "snitch" in front of other prisoners could subject him to the risk of substantial harm at the hands of other prisoners, and supported both First Amendment and Eighth Amendment claims. Claims concerning the failure to turn on cell lights, which the prisoner claimed impeded his ability to do legal work, in violation of his First Amendment rights, were rejected. Williams v, Horner, #09-2927, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 24463 (Unpub. 8th Cir.). Editor's note: A judge dissenting in part argued that the majority, in allowing the pursuit of the retaliation claim merely on the basis of a retaliatory filing of false disciplinary charges failed to impose a necessary condition that the retaliatory action be one that would chill a person of ordinary firmness from exercising his First Amendment rights, and noted that in this case, the warden dismissed the disciplinary charge against the prisoner.
A Pennsylvania prisoner filed a lawsuit challenging the confiscation of certain Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) as contraband, both from his mail and from a search of his cell. He had planned, he asserted, to use those documents in his state criminal case to argue that he was entitled to release from prison under the UCC, because the documents showed him to be a "Secured Party Sovereign." The seizures, he argued, therefore interfered with his right of access to the courts. Rejecting these claims, a federal appeals court found that the confiscations had not interfered with the plaintiff's ability to assert a non-frivolous legal claim, as the argument he wished to pursue in his state criminal case, that he is somehow entitled to release from prison because he is a "Secured Party Sovereign" – is "the epitome of frivolous." Further, despite the confiscation of the documents, he did present this frivolous argument to the state court anyway. Schlager v. Beard, #10-2184, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 22467 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A prisoner could not prevail on a denial of access to the courts claim, when he could not show that his ability to pursue a non-frivolous legal claim was hindered by the actions of the defendants. "Even if the most egregious" of his allegations are true, the court stated, "he provides no concrete evidence to demonstrate that defendants' actions caused him prejudice by hindering the progression of his current cases or the pursuit of future litigation, particularly in light of the fact that he had two other cases pending at the same time as this appeal." Lockamy v. Dunbar, #10-40126, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 22500 (Unpub. 5th Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that several prison employees denied her right to access to the courts by not allowing her to participate in a telephonic hearing in a paternity action she filed in state court in which she sought an order of child support against her ex-husband. This was supposedly based on her detention in a Restrictive Housing Unit (RSU), and allegedly resulted in the "dismissal" of her action. Upholding the dismissal of the lawsuit, a federal appeals court noted that the First Amendment right of access to the courts for prisoners only applies to two types of cases, challenges (direct or collateral) to their sentences and conditions of confinement, and did not apply to the plaintiff's child support action. Additionally, the child support action did not relate to "anything as fundamental as her parental rights." Even if her First Amendment rights were implicated by her child support action, she failed to establish any "actual injury" because the court merely notified her that her hearing will be rescheduled. Ball v.Hartman, #10-1418, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 20929 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A Pennsylvania prisoner filed claims against thirty-four correctional officers and other prison personnel challenging various instances in which they allegedly searched her cell, seized her property, confiscated unspecified legal material, and interfered in various ways with her incoming and outgoing legal mail. She also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, in which she requested the immediate return of her property and an order requiring defendants to provide her access to the law library and preventing them from labeling her mail. Upholding the denial of a preliminary injunction, a federal appeals court ruled that the plaintiff prisoner failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits and that she faces irreparable harm in the absence of the injunction. While she argued that the defendants interfered with her right to access the courts, she failed to show that they are interfering with her ability to assert any non-frivolous claim. Ball v. Oden, #10-1702, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 20785 (Unpub.3rd Cir.).
An Indiana prisoner claimed that a property officer and a guard improperly confiscated legal documents and other property and interfered with his right of access to the courts. The property was taken and stored when the prisoner was transferred to a county jail temporarily to appear in court. The amount of property was in excess of what would fit in a box being used to transfer property going with the prisoner. Some of it was allegedly never returned. The prisoner could not pursue a due process claim because Indiana state law provides adequate post-deprivation remedies for loss of property. The court also rejected a right of access to the courts claim because the loss of the legal documents did not cause any prejudice to his criminal case as he was represented by a lawyer. Edwards v. Faust, #09-3264, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 23101 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A prisoner's federal civil rights lawsuit claimed that two prison guards verbally abused him, conspired against him, used excessive force against him, and placed him in unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed based on the prisoner's failure to prosecute, and after his motion for an appointed lawyer was denied. Eighteen months later, the prisoner later filed a motion to reopen the case, arguing that his inability to speak English, or to read any language, including his native Spanish, prevented him from responding to any of the defendants' motions or filing a notice of appeal. That motion was prepared by another inmate, and was denied. This result was upheld on appeal. The appeals court found that there was "no apparent explanation as to why he was able to file some documents with the District Court, but not other documents," and that the plaintiff prisoner's "argument about the difficulties presented by his language problems is undercut by the seven motions that he filed throughout the litigation." Pabon v. LeMaster, #10-2404, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 21272 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A N.J. prisoner challenged a ruling by state correctional officials allowing inmates to use carbon paper in the law library, and barring them from using such paper elsewhere in the prison. An intermediate appeals court upheld this restriction. The defendants argued that carbon paper posed a security threat and that weapons wrapped in carbon paper could potentially pass through metal detectors undetected. While a state regulation provides that "legal supplies such as paper, carbon paper, envelopes and pens shall be provided in reasonable amounts as needed to all inmates who request them for legal purposes," the court found that the defendants, in allowing the use of carbon paper in the law library, but barring its use elsewhere, had properly balanced the needs of the prisoners with security concerns, and had not acted in an arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable manner. Boone v. N.J. Dept. of Corrections, #A-3540-08T2, 2010 N.J. Super. Unpub. Lexis 2112.
A Wisconsin prisoner claimed that prison guards violated his rights in opening legal mail to him outside his presence. While many cases hold that this is a violation as applied to correspondence from a prisoner's attorney, the mail in this case involved communications from courts and agencies. The prisoner asserted that the opening of such correspondence outside his presence violated a Wisconsin state statute. A federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit for failure to state a claim, since the violation of a state statute, standing alone, is inadequate grounds for a federal civil rights lawsuit. Guajardo-Palma v. Martinson, #10-1726, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 19481 (7th Cir.).
A federal appeals court ordered further proceedings on a prisoner's claim that correctional officials denied him his constitutional right of access to the courts by preventing him from using the law library during a limited time he had to appeal his criminal conviction, as well as by failing to provide him with any other means of legal research assistance. He further claimed that they then forced him to choose between his constitutional right to exercise and his constitutional right to access to the courts by only allowing him to leave his cell two hours a day, four days a week, for an eight month period, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. During those hours, he could either exercise or use the law library. The court found that these allegations, if true, could indeed have violated the prisoner's rights. Hebbe v. Pliler, #07-17265, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 15660 (9th Cir.).
A former inmate detained for approximately seven months following Hurricane Katrina failed to establish that the warden violated either his First Amendment right of access to the courts or his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. While he may not have had access to a law library in the chaotic conditions that existed after the hurricane, he did have access to writing materials and was able to write to the court. Nothing that the warden did or failed to do prejudiced the plaintiff in pursuing any meritorious legal claim. Terry v. Hubert, #09-30559 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 12612 (5th Cir.).
A federal appeals court reversed the trial court's dismissal of a prisoner's claims concerning the opening of legal mail, denial of access to the law library, and failing to respond to grievances as moot based on the prisoner's transfer from the county jail. The transfer came just before the court was to rule on class action certification, with the prisoner serving as the named class representative. The appeals court found that the claims of every member of proposed class of detainees were "inherently transitory" since, at the discretion of state correctional officials, any class member could be transferred to another facility at any time. This was shown by the plaintiff's transfer 13 days after he moved to certify a class action. Additionally, the same claims were likely to recur with respect to the class, as the lawsuit asserted that the alleged problems were "pervasive." Further proceedings were therefore ordered on both the detainee's motion for class certification and the sheriff's motion to dismiss on grounds of failure to state a claim. Olson v. Brown, #09-2728, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 2438 (7th Cir.).
A prison's action in failing to mail a prisoner's notice of appeal until one day after it was due, despite the fact that the prisoner had given it to a prison official seven days before the due date, violated his right of access to the courts, because it precluded him from pursuing a statutory right of appeal from his conviction. Dorn v. Lafler, #08-1594, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 7020 (6th Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that a prison guard violated his rights by reading his legal mail. He failed to establish a violation of his First Amendment right of access to the courts, since he did not show any injury to a pending legal claim. The prisoner also failed to show that the guard's actions created any kind of barrier to his relationship with his lawyer in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. There was no procedural due process violation, as correctional officials provided the prisoner with a post-deprivation hearing. Stanley v. Vining, #08-2634, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 8298 (6th Cir.).
The trial court properly rejected a prisoner's claim that correctional officials and employees deprived him of his constitutional right of access to the courts. It was the prisoner's own actions in refusing to present the court clerk with a copy of his complaint and either the filing fee or a motion to excuse payment that resulted in the delay in filing his lawsuit. Parker v. Evans, #08-2249, 350 Fed. Appx. 77, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 24364 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A federal prisoner failed to show a denial of his right of access to the courts arising from the alleged denial of access to legal materials, assistance from someone trained in the law, or photocopies of certain documents and materials. He did not demonstrate that he suffered any actual injury from these alleged deprivations. The prisoner's claims and his appeal were legally frivolous. Barrett v. Pearson, #09-7030, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 23556 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
A pretrial detainee's claim that jail officials violated his right of access to the courts by opening his legal mail 15 times outside of his presence was non-meritorious. Most of his letters were correspondence with a court, which were not subject to secrecy, and as to the alleged opening of his correspondence with attorneys, he did not claim that it had resulted in any detriment to his legal claims. The opening of his legal mail outside of his presence also did not show any violation of his rights of free speech and free association. In light of the fact that only one letter was actually marked as mail from an attorney, opening it, standing alone, did not show a continuing practice of opening privileged mail. Harrison v. County of Cook, #09-1747, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 2703 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A jury returned a verdict in favor of prison officials on an inmate's claim that they removed him from his prison law library job in retaliation for his protected First Amendment activities of filing grievances and civil rights lawsuits and helping other prisoners do so. On appeal, this result was upheld. The trial court properly denied a motion to bar evidence that the prisoner was removed from his prison job because officials suspected him of stealing copy paper. This evidence was relevant to their defense that their actions were not retaliatory for protected activity. While testimony about information prison officials received from a confidential informant was hearsay, it was not offered to show the truth of the accusation that the prisoner stole paper, but merely that the officials suspected that he had and acted on the basis of that suspicion. Hale v. McMillen, #09-2737, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 2249 (Unpub.3rd Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that a librarian's refusal to allow him access to a comb-binding machine violated his right of access to the courts. The librarian was entitled to summary judgment based on qualified immunity, as she believed that comb-binding of the prisoner's papers was not required, which was a reasonable belief, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's flexible rules for pro se filings. Indeed, it appeared that the rules did not require, and perhaps did not even permit, such binding. Only "basic legal supplies," rather than "unnecessary amenities" need be provided to prisoners. Any delay in responding to the prisoner's request was not unreasonable, since he did not inform the librarian of when his petition was due in court. Phillips v. Hust, #04-36021, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 26161 (9th Cir.).
A prisoner complaining about a search of his cell and confiscation of his legal papers and other property failed to show a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, since his status of incarceration meant that he had no right to privacy or protection from unreasonable searches. His due process rights were not violated, since there were adequate post-deprivation remedies for the seizure of his property, and he failed to show a violation of his First Amendment rights, since he alleged no actual injury that resulted from the removal of his legal papers and did not claim that the seizure of religious materials prevented him from observing any religious belief or practice. He also failed to show that there was a retaliatory motive for the search and a videotape of the search refuted any claim that an officer used excessive force in restraining the plaintiff. Tindell v. Beard, #09-3063, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 24642 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that a sheriff's department sergeant deprived him of his right of access to the courts, limiting his ability to bring a habeas petition because a property bag containing some legal materials was stolen, misplaced or lost. The prisoner failed, however, to clearly explain what he lost and why he thought the facts contained would have made his habeas petition more convincing. The loss of the material did not prevent him from unimpeded access to the courts, and he had access to a law library, managing to file his petition. It was pure speculation that it might have been more convincing if he had his property bag. Belle v. Strange, #09-40126, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 20484 (Unpub. 5th Cir.).
An inmate did not show that an officer denied his constitutional right of access to the courts by allegedly fraudulently refusing to accept service of the prisoner's lawsuit. Since the prisoner had been allowed to file his lawsuit as a pauper, he was already in court when the officer's alleged actions took place. The prisoner could have sought relief against the officer in his earlier lawsuit on his claim that the refusal of service was fraudulent, but having failed to do so, he could not pursue a new lawsuit for denial of access to the courts. The appeals court also noted that the prisoner failed to appeal the dismissal of his original lawsuit, thereby forfeiting any right to complain further. Wiggins v. Logan, #08-3102, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 21101 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Prisoner failed to establish a denial of access to the courts based on failure to grant him requested library time when he could not show that he had suffered any actual injury to his ability to litigate his claims. He also failed to show that disciplinary actions taken against him was in retaliation for his pursuit of his claims. Bandey-Bey v. Crist, No. 08-2084, 578 F.3d 763 (8th Cir. 2009).
A prisoner failed to show that officials' alleged withholding of his legal mail caused any actual injury to his appeal from his criminal conviction, justifying the dismissal of his claim for interference with his right of access to the courts. Brooks v. Scherf, #2:09-CV-12377, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 55383 (E.D. Mich.).
A prisoner claimed to have suffered injuries from falling on a broken grate cover while working in a prison kitchen. He claimed that prison officials wrongfully refused to fix the grate cover, refused to bring his meals to his cells to accommodate him after he was injured, and interfered with his right of access to the courts when they refused to prepare a written report concerning the incident. He also claimed that his medication was improperly delayed. A federal appeals court upheld summary judgment for the defendants, finding that the claim about the grate was a claim for negligence that could not support a federal civil rights claim, that the refusal to bring the prisoner's meals to his cell was consistent with his doctor's recommendations, that he failed to show how the absence of a written incident report prevented him from litigating over what happened, and that any claim concerning his medical treated merely showed disagreement over the proper course of treatment to be followed, rather than showing deliberate indifference. Gause v. Diguglielmo, #09-1454, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 15743 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A prisoner failed to show that he suffered any actual injury based on a prison mailroom officer's alleged failure to properly handle his legal mail. Blount v. Terry, #5:08-CV-124, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 18579 (M.D. Ga.).
An inmate failed to show an unconstitutional denial of his right of access to the courts. He had approximately three months to prepare the petition in question, and was granted unimpeded daily visits to the law library for over a month before the library temporarily closed. While his work was alleged to be on a disk in the closed library, the prisoner did not claim that he sought assistance to get the disk back from the library. Howard v. Webster, #08-3956, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 16355 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
Federal appeals court upholds injunction against broad policy preventing inmates from receiving certain Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) materials and forms. The defendants failed to show that the policy was narrowly tailored to serve the legitimate goal of preventing the filing of fraudulent liens, and effective rules were possible which could serve this goal while still allowing inmates to receive a broad rang of UCC materials. Jones v. Caruso, #07-2393, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 13371 (6th Cir.).
A warden's alleged seizure and confiscation of all legal materials from a prisoner's cell did not violate his right of access to the courts. The prisoner failed to show that he suffered any actual injury, since he managed to file his brief in court unhindered. Lee v. Hudson, #08-15892, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 13843 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that he suffered unlawful retaliation, in violation of his First Amendment rights, after he provided assistance in legal matters to other prisoners. The retaliation supposedly included deprivation of property, improper segregation, and interference with his right of access to the courts. A federal appeals court found that the plaintiff prisoner failed to show that the defendants' actions affected his ability to pursue his legal claims, or that the conditions in segregation imposed a major hardship. The court ordered further proceedings, however, on the claim that he was deprived of property in retaliation for his legal assistance to other inmates, and that he provided this assistance to try to protect constitutional rights or achieve social change, activities protected by the First Amendment. Taylor v. McSwain, #08-12238, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 12858 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
Correctional employees were properly denied summary judgment on claims that they unlawfully opened a prisoners legal mail when there were factual disputes over whether or not they opened some items, and whether they disregarded existing prison rules in doing so. Merriweather v. Zamora, # 08-1570, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 13515 (6th Cir.).
A prisoner claiming that prison officials refused to allow him to send out legal mail established nothing other than that they determined that certain mail he wished to send did not qualify as legal mail under existing regulations, and rejected other items he wished to send because he failed to comply with those regulations. He failed to show that he suffered any prejudice from the rejection of the mail, so that his claim for denial of access to the courts was not viable. Finally, prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity on the prisoner's claim that they erroneously determined that his outgoing mail did not qualify for free postage, in the absence of any "invidious intent." Wesolowski v. Washburn, #03-CV-6424, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 42297 (W.D.N.Y.).
Prisoner failed to establish, in his filed complaint, a valid claim that prison employees' confiscation of his legal materials and receipts denied him constitutionally protected access to the courts with respect to his Federal Tort Claims Act cause of action. The appeals court upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit, finding that the prisoner had not alleged that he suffered an actual injury from the employees' actions. Walker v. Zenk, #08-1570, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 7228 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Prisoner failed to show how denying him certain legal materials defeated his attempt to pursue a non-frivolous legal claim or how the individual defendants were involved in the alleged denial. The appeals court also held that he could not seek relief for alleged negligence resulting in the destruction or confiscation of his property as a violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. Also rejected were his claims that his rights were violated by placement in what he called a "punishment cell with AIDS inmates," or placement in administrative segregation while awaiting a disciplinary hearing. Doyle v. Cella, #08-1398, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 7322 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
A prisoner out on bond was arrested on other charges, and, while in custody, was scheduled to appear in court on the first case. He was taken to the courthouse, but claimed that he was later charged with failure to appear because a deputy and a sergeant refused to transport him to the courtroom. His federal civil rights claim over this was properly dismissed, as the facts showed, at most, negligence in failing to properly determine that he should be taken to the courtroom for his hearing. This did not show a violation of civil rights or denial of access to the courts. Mills v. Connors, #07-1524, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 7481 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
Prisoner failed to spell out, except in a conclusory manner, any connection between the alleged actions of prison employees and an actual impact on his right of access to the courts, i.e., the inability to pursue legitimate legal challenges to his conviction, sentence, or conditions of confinement. As a result, his lawsuit was properly dismissed for failure to state a claim. Rivera v. Huibregtse, 08-cv-515, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 102650 (W.D. Wis.).
Prison law librarian and other defendants presented undisputed evidence that the plaintiff prisoner had told them the wrong date for the deadline for his filing of a notice of appeal. They were therefore, at most, negligent in failing to provide him with access to the courts, and were entitled to summary judgment in his federal civil rights lawsuit. Henderson v. Moore, No. C-08-36, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 100846 (S.D. Tex.).
New York prisoner failed to show that a prison superintendent had any personal involvement in the policies that allegedly resulted in the dismissal of his legal action--policies that limited the number of books he could borrow at a time, and the law libraries' hours of operation. Merely being the facility superintendent was insufficient to impose liability for denial of access to the courts. Shell v. Brun, #00-CV-6152, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 92029 (W.D.N.Y.).
When the confiscation of a prisoner's legal materials was alleged to have hindered his ability to timely file a habeas corpus petition, the trial court erroneously dismissed the complaint and denied him leave to amend it, since he adequately stated a claim for deprivation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process right of access to the courts. Denney v. Nelson, No. 08-10391, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 101 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
A federal prison warden was not entitled to qualified immunity from liability for allegedly failing to give notice to a prisoner of the rejection of mail from his lawyer--packages which contained trial transcripts. A due process requirement of notifying a prisoner of the rejection of letters also applied to packages, regardless of whether such notice was explicitly required for rejected packages under federal prison regulations. Bonner v. Outlaw, No. 07-3676, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 202 (8th Cir.).
Prisoner failed to show that he suffered any injury because of the prison's failure to deliver mail on Saturday, or from his inability to go to the law library on the day he was notified of a filing requirement in a pending legal case. The court also noted that it was established by prior caselaw that the prisoner's nonprivileged outgoing mail could be opened and inspected. Caldwell v. Beard, No. 08-2432, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 27027 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Prisoner stated a possible claim for violation of his First Amendment rights based on the alleged failure of jail officials to process his outgoing mail. Further proceedings were also needed on his claim that they prevented him from taking his legal mail to a state hospital while confined there, as an inquiry was needed as to whether that action was reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. Brown v. Saline County Jail, No. 08-3145, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 26066 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
A prison regulation under which a prisoner's Uniform Commercial Code materials were seized did not violate his constitutional right of access to the courts. The prisoner did not show that the seizure of the materials deprived him of the ability to pursue arguably valid legal claims. The prisoner wished to pursue his "right' to copyright or trademark his name in order to prevent public officials from using it without "just compensation." The items confiscated from his cell included the kind of papers and documents that are necessary for filing a UCC commercial lien. The regulation, the court noted, is intended to address the practice among inmates in Pennsylvania of filing fraudulent liens against public officials (including correctional officers and administrators) pursuant to so-called "redemption" and name copyrighting schemes, among others. Courts have uniformly declared such commercial liens brought by inmates against prosecutors, judges, correctional officers and other government employees, as null and void, and a regulation designed to prevent the filing of such liens is not improper. Edmonds v. Sobina, No. 08-1851, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 21955 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Prisoner failed to show how prison's action of confiscating his commercial law (Uniform Commercial Code--UCC) materials denied him his constitutional right of access to the courts in relationship to his criminal appeal. Policy against prisoners possessing such UCC materials furthered legitimate penological interests, and did not violate the prisoner's constitutional rights. Johns v. Mich. Dept. of Corrections, Case No. 1:07-cv-95, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 84384 (S.D. Mich.).
A prisoner's constitutionally protected right of access to the courts did not extend to the filing of a lawsuit in state court for breach of contract. Brown v. Leavenworth County, Kansas, Case No. 08-3175, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 75620 (D. Kan.).
Prison official was not entitled to qualified immunity for allegedly violating inmate's First Amendment rights by allegedly opening his legal mail outside of his presence on 50 or more occasions. The right of the prisoner to be present when mail from his attorney was opened was clearly established. Wappler v. Brevard, Case No. 4:05-CV-90, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 90559 (W.D. Mich.).
Federal appeals court upholds the rejection of a prisoner's claims that he faced retaliation for exercising his right of access to the courts both in filing his own lawsuits, and in providing legal advice to other prisoners. The court notes that providing legal advice to other prisoners is not entitled to any greater First Amendment protection than communication with fellow inmates on any other topic. The prisoner failed to show any specific harm that the alleged retaliation caused to the progress of his lawsuits. Gronquist v. Deshazer, No. 06-35024, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 19856 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
The prisoner's "criminal" complaint against prison personnel under 18 U.S.C. Secs. 241 and 242, claiming that they denied him time in the law library and thereby interfered with his right of access to the courts, was properly considered a federal civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 by the trial court. The sole remedy sought by the prisoner in his complaint, the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the defendants, was not available to a private person. The lawsuit was properly dismissed. Booth v. Henson, No. 06-1738, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 19024 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
In confiscating legal papers from prisoner's cell, prison authorities did not violate his right to provide legal assistance to other inmates when applicable state law and regulations provided adequate legal assistance to prisoners, so that the Department of Corrections could limit prisoners providing such assistance to other inmates. Even if such adequate assistance had not been provided, however, a policy barring prisoners from possession of each other's legal documents was reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. The prisoner did not have standing to assert any claimed right of other prisoners to receive legal assistance from him. An adequate post deprivation state law remedy was provided for the deprivation of the prisoner's property. Pennick v. Mason, No. 06-35978, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 16720 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
While a prisoner claimed, in his federal civil rights lawsuit for denial of access to the courts, that the confiscation of his computer disks and the hard drives from a computer interfered with his attempt to comply with court deadlines concerning briefing deadlines in a civil rights lawsuit appeal, the trial court rejected this claim. The court noted that he had previously represented to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that he was having difficulty complying with the deadlines because of medical conditions and impaired vision. Additionally, while the confiscation of the disks in question might have resulted in the plaintiff not having as much access to legal materials as he wanted in the form he preferred, he was still able to pursue his appeal, and received an opinion from the appeals court on the merits of case, so that there was no actual injury suffered. Rollins v. Magnusson, Civil No. 06-103-B-K, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 28883 (D. Maine).
Prisoner's claim's concerning the alleged "censorship" of his correspondence with the media was properly dismissed when he failed to specify who engaged in the alleged censorship, and what the "censorship' consisted of. The court also properly rejected the prisoner's claim concerning alleged denial of access to the law library when he failed to show that this interfered with his ability to pursue a particular legal claim. While he mentioned an adoption case, he did not state that his parental rights were at stake in the case. Shupe v. Morganflash, No. 07-8087, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 18588 (10th Cir.).
After a Pennsylvania correctional official heard that prison inmates around the country were allegedly filing fraudulent liens and judgments against prison officials and prosecutors, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) declared all Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) forms, documents concerning UCC filings, and related materials and publications to be contraband. Acting under that declaration, correctional officers allegedly confiscated a variety of legal materials from the plaintiff inmates, while subsequently allowing them to retrieve documents and publications not covered by the declaration. A federal appeals court ruled that the inmates failed to show that these actions violated the inmates constitutional right of access to the courts, since they did not show that they suffered any actual injury to legitimate legal claims. The court also found that the prisoners had been given meaningful post-deprivation remedies and that there was a rational relationship between the penological interest furthered and the method used to further it--the declaration of UCC materials as contraband. Monroe v. Beard, No. 07-3711, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 15991 (3rd Cir.).
A prisoner's motion seeking an appointed lawyer was denied. The prisoner's claims against correctional officers, including claims that they retaliated against him after he filed a grievance by putting him in keep-lock status for 16 days and slapping his face had survived a motion to dismiss. Based on the "clarity" and "comprehensiveness" of his filed complaint, as well as his ability to "articulate," the court believed that the prisoner would be able to assert his case to the finder of fact without difficulty, and that he understood the legal issues relevant to his claims, which were not complicated. Headley v. Fisher, No. 06 Civ. 6331, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 51986 (S.D.N.Y.).
Indigent prisoner had no constitutional or statutory right to the appointment of a lawyer to represent him in his civil lawsuit against the defendant Department of Corrections employees, but the court could request that lawyer represent him under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1915(e)(1). The court declined to do so, however, based on the prisoner's own ability to investigate the facts of his case and present his claims. Rosales v. Ortiz, No. 06-cv-02438, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 10334 (D. Colo.).
Depriving a prisoner plaintiff of the ability to communicate with his co-plaintiff in several lawsuits did not by itself violate his First Amendment right of access to the courts. Despite 28 C.F.R. Sec. 540.17, stating that a prisoner could be permitted to correspond to another prisoner who was a party in a lawsuit that both were involved in, the prisoner failed to identify the manner in which his right was restricted or the content of the communication which he wished to send. He therefore was not entitled to an order requiring that prison officials allow such communication. Stine v. Collins, No. 08-1078, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 12003 (10th Cir.).
Prisoner could not pursue a claim for alleged inadequate access to the prison law library when he failed to identify what arguable and non-frivolous legal claims he was purportedly prevented from pursuing as a result. Falciglia v. Erie County Prison, No. 07-4300, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 11336 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Inmate failed to show that the seizure of his legal materials deprived him of access to the courts since he did not allege that he suffered any actual injury. While he claimed that he could not research a meritorious appeal, the prisoner had already filed both his appeal notice and filed his appeal brief with the court before the materials were seized. The court also ruled that the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches did not apply to a search of his prison cell, and that the seizure of his legal materials did not jeopardize his health or safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment. McNeil-El v. Diguglielmo, No. 07-2763, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 6978 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Prisoner was not entitled to an appointed lawyer in order to pursue his excessive force claim. The court ruled that the prisoner, either acting on his own or with the help of "jailhouse lawyers," had sufficiently presented his claim of excessive force, and that there was nothing unusually complex about his case. He failed to show that there were "exceptional circumstances" requiring the appointment of counsel under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1915(e)(1). Daughtery v. Wilson, No. 08cv0408, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 38538 (S.D. Cal.).
An immigration detainee failed to show that he was unconstitutionally denied access to the law library to weigh and place postage to a brief due in his immigration appeal on a given date. The detainee had three weeks' notice of the deadline for submitting his brief, so that his failure to prepare his brief earlier, or to use his allotted library time to do so did not mean that refusing to allow him additional unscheduled access violated his rights. Adegbuji v. Green, No. 07-1398, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 10740 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Prisoner failed to show that prison officials and employees interfered with his right of access to the courts, when he failed to show that their actions had caused any actual injury. Toussaint v. Good, No. 06-4638, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 9472 (3rd Cir.).
In a prisoner's lawsuit claiming that his right of access to the courts was denied by his transfer from Illinois to a California facility without his legal materials, summary judgment was properly granted to certain individual defendants because the prisoner failed to show that they were personally involved in interfering with his mail or withholding his legal materials. Walker v. Kelly, No. 05-56556, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 6737 (9th Cir.).
Pennsylvania prisoner failed to show that restrictions on his access to a law library actually hindered his ability to pursue his legal claims. The prisoner also failed to show that a non-frivolous legal claim was being interfered with. Tinsley v. Giorla, No. 05-2777, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 26397 (E.D. Pa.).
On prisoner's claim involving alleged interference with his legal mail, even if he did not receive notice of a federal rule of civil procedure and what would happen if he failed to comply with it in relation to a motion for summary judgment, this was harmless since he had an actual understanding of the requirements of the rule. Strauss v. Hamilton, No. 06-35560, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 6011 (9th Cir.).
A prisoner failed to show that the need to use some of his allotted personal locker space to store legal materials, resulting in the unavailability of space for other property, some of which was confiscated, violated his equal protection rights. There was no showing that correctional officials treated similarly situated prisoners involved in litigation differently from other inmates. The space limitations on prison storage space were "facially neutral" and were not intended to restrict prisoners' constitutional rights. Guajardo v. Crain, No. 07-50814, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 8305 (5th Cir.).
Prisoner who claimed that his constitutional due process rights were violated when he was allegedly denied access to the law library as a disciplinary sanction, and who also claimed that the sanction was unlawfully imposed without a hearing could not use a habeas corpus petition to challenge the sanction, since it did not have an impact on the length of his confinement. He did not claim that he lost good time credits, nor did he seek a release from custody. The prisoner could instead seek to challenge the sanctions imposed in a federal civil rights lawsuit, since his claims involved the conditions of his confinement rather than their duration. Williams-Bey v. Buss, No. 06-4204, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 5968 (7th Cir.).
A prisoner was not entitled to injunctive relief compelling the return of a notarized affidavit and other legal documents seized from his cell when he failed to show either that he would otherwise suffer irreparable injury, or that he was likely to succeed on the merits of his underlying claim. He could not demonstrate a likelihood of such success because he had not yet exhausted his available administrative remedies, as required before pursuing litigation, and his evidence that documents other than the affidavit (subsequently returned) had been seized from his cell was "scanty." Carabello v. Beard, No. 06-336, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 16814 (E.D. Pa.).
The plaintiff prisoner failed to show that he suffered any "actual injury" from correctional officials' alleged actions denying him the right of access to the courts. He could not show that the alleged actions caused him to miss any court deadlines or resulted in the rejection or loss of a legal claim. Pressley v. Beard, No. 07-4150, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 4208 (3rd Cir.).
Despite a prisoner's mental impairment, there was sufficient evidence that he was able to represent himself, since the papers he had submitted to the court showed a clear understanding of what claims he wanted to present. The prisoner was therefore, not entitled to an appointed lawyer to pursue his claims, but was entitled to additional time to submit a memorandum in support of his claims, while acting as his own lawyer. Lucien v. Spencer, C.A. No. 07-11338, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 11560 (D. Mass.).
Federal appeals court reverses dismissal of federal prisoner's lawsuit against Bureau of Prisons for depriving him of meaningful access to the courts. The alleged failure of the defendants to provide him with legal research materials for Louisiana, North Carolina, California, and the District of Columbia was claimed to have prevented him from pursuing constitutional claims concerning prior state criminal convictions which were the basis of an enhancement of his federal sentence. The prisoner adequately alleged that particular challenges to these prior convictions were hindered by the defendants' actions preventing him from knowing what the current law was in these jurisdictions. Anderson v. Bureau of Prisons, No. 05-30965, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 3115 (5th Cir.).
Texas detainee failed to show that limits on his access to the law library or to a typewriter resulted in any actual injury in pending court actions. The plaintiff, an alien, also asserted claims that an attorney for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement "and her ghost," the "reincarnated Jezebel Princess of Evil" appeared before him while he slept at night or showered, causing him mental distress. The court ruled that these claims were "obviously frivolous." The court also rejected claims that the prisoner had suffered unlawful retaliation for pursuing his claims against the attorney and her "ghost," since a retaliation claim cannot be based on underlying claims that are frivolous. Maringo v. McGuirk, No. 07-20163, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 4720 (5th Cir.).
Prisoner's lawsuit claiming that he was denied access to the courts because he was denied access to legal papers during his transfer to another facility was properly dismissed because the plaintiff failed to show that he suffered a particular injury from the unavailability of those papers. McKinney v. Rianda, No. 06-55196, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 30253 (9th Cir.).
While a prisoner had a well-established right to have properly marked attorney mail opened only in his presence, the plaintiff prisoner failed to show that the alleged opening of such privileged mail outside of his presence had caused him any actual injury or compromised his cases. He failed to show specifically how any legal matters were damaged. The actual injury requirement, however, only applied to his access to courts claims, and did not apply to his First Amendment free speech claims, so further proceedings were warranted on the free speech claims. Al-Amin v. Smith, No. 06-15248, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 180 (11th Cir.).
Prisoner's claim that he was denied meaningful access to the courts because a prison did not provide him with either legal research materials in Spanish or another way to research his claims was properly rejected because his underlying claim, that he had been subjected to ineffective assistance of counsel in his criminal case was frivolous. Angulo v. Fisher, No. 07-12203, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 789 (11th Cir.).
Inmate failed to show that his habeas corpus petition had been dismissed because of a correctional facility's deprivation of his right of access to the courts, resulting in the late filing of a brief in support of the petition. The judge did not dismiss the petition because of the late filing of the brief, but rather because it was determined that it was completely without merit. Laufgas v. Speziale, No. 06-5062, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 2514 (3rd Cir.).
Prison officials were entitled to summary judgment on prisoner's claim that his right of access to the courts had been violated by the alleged repeated opening of his privileged mail from his attorney outside his presence, since he failed to show any actual injury to a pending court case. Al-Amin v. Smith, No. 06-15248, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 180 (11th Cir.).
Prisoner was entitled to an appointed lawyer in his lawsuit asserting claims for deliberate indifference and medical malpractice concerning treatment of his finger, which allegedly resulted in a need for its amputation. The prisoner was not an experienced litigant, and expressed confusion about the discovery process. Additionally, the case might raise complex legal issues which required more factual investigation than the prisoner was able to conduct, as well as requiring expert witness testimony. Colston v. Correctional Medical Services, No. 06-4247, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 28082 (3rd Cir.).
Jail officials did not violate a prisoner's right of access to the courts when they allegedly denied him access to a law library, resulting in his inability to file a motion in court based on the Texas Speedy Trial Act. The prisoner failed to show that he suffered an actual injury, since the statute in question had been declared unconstitutional by a state appeals court, and he also failed to allege why the "speedy trial" motion could not have been pursued by his appointed lawyer. The prisoner's appeal, therefore, was frivolous. Barnes v. Cerliano, No. 06-41129, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 28583 (5th Cir.).
Prisoner's claims concerning the alleged violation of his rights as a result of his classification as a gang member and placement in administrative segregation were either frivolous or meritless. Additionally, his claims for injunctive relief were moot since he had been released from prison. The conditions he was allegedly subjected to, such as the denial of access to salt and pepper, denial of participation in work and education programs, and denial of access to television and games were not sufficient to show a deprivation of constitutionally protected liberty interests. The alleged limitation of access to legal research to only three days a week was found not to have denied his right of access to the courts. Farr v. Rodriguez, No. 05-41395, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 28191 (5th Cir.).
The cap on attorneys' fees imposed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act applied both to the time the plaintiffs' attorney spent in any underlying lawsuit and in monitoring whether a county was in compliance with consent degrees entered into during the litigation. The court reduced a total attorneys' fee request of $363,000 to $138,213.83. Batchelder v. Geary, No. C-71-02017, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 64893 (N.D. Cal.).
Prisoner's claim that he was denied his constitutional right of access to the courts because of the failure to process his administrative grievances was frivolous. The prisoner argued that this was the case because he was required to exhaust available administrative remedies before pursuing a lawsuit over his claims. The appeals court noted that the trial court had assumed that the prisoner had exhausted available administrative remedies because his grievances had not been processed within the required time limits, so that access to the courts was not interfered with. Mahogany v. Miller, #06-30927, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 24909 (5th Cir.).
Prisoner failed to show that jail officials denied him his right of access to the courts by their response to his request for a packet to help him file a federal civil rights lawsuit. He failed to show that the packet he was furnished with differed from the one commonly provided by the federal district court. Additionally, the pencils he was furnished were "obviously sufficient" to allow him to prepare a 44-page document filed with the trial court. Friedman v. Kennard, No. 07-4116, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 22744 (10th Cir.).
Prisoner was entitled to notice when packages of legal transcripts sent to him by his attorney were rejected and returned to the attorney for failure to comply with prison regulations. Failure to provide such notice could be the basis for a Fifth Amendment claim against the warden even if there had been a reasonable basis for returning the packages. The prisoner's claim was not barred by the Prison Litigation Reform Act's requirement in 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997e(e) requiring that an inmate litigant show a physical injury before asserting a claim for mental or emotional injuries, since he had alleged that he was prejudiced in legal proceedings by the warden's actions. The warden's motion to dismiss the lawsuit was denied. Bonner v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, Civil No. 03-6347, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 64954 (D. Minn.).
Federal appeals court upholds dismissal of prisoner's lawsuit over alleged violation of his right of access to the courts based on the alleged refusal of the prison to advance him funds to use for postage to mail documents to a court. The prisoner failed to show that he suffered any injury to his right to pursue claims concerning his sentence or conditions of confinement from the alleged deprivation. Salkeld v. Tennis, No. 07-1776, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 21990 (3rd Cir.).
Ohio Supreme Court orders dismissal of proceeding charging inmate who acted as a "jailhouse lawyer" in the state prison system with the unauthorized practice of law. The court stated that inmates were entitled to "meaningful access to the courts," there were "no reasonable" alternatives to the inmate's actions for other prisoners, and further, that the proposed sanctions sought to be imposed against him would be meaningless. Any regulation of his conduct was to be governed by internal prison regulations, and not by the court's practice rules. Disciplinary Counsel v. Cotton, No. 2004-1130, 2007 Ohio Lexis 2165.
Removal from prison law library of reporters containing decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court prior to 1950 was not shown to have caused a prisoner any actual injury. While he claimed that the lack of access to these decisions caused him to be "prejudiced greatly" in pursuing his habeas petitions, he did not specify how, and, additionally, his habeas claims were not shown to be "non-frivolous." Hairston v. Nash, No. 06-5219, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 20090 (3rd Cir.).
Prison officials were not shown to have unconstitutionally interfered with a prisoner's right of access to the courts by depriving him of mail containing trial transcripts, in the absence of any actual injury, since he was still able to file his habeas petition without possession of that material. Wall v. McGrath, 1:05-cv-00818, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 47787 (E.D. Cal.).
Prisoner failed to show any evidence that he had a "meaningful legal need" for copies or carbon paper in connection with his pending litigation, so that his claim that denial of access to carbon paper or photocopying equipment free of cost was properly dismissed as frivolous. The prisoner also failed to show that the alleged denial of access to either one paralegal prisoner or access to the law library actually interfered with any pending case. Finally, since the prisoner had adequate funds to pay for his own stamps to send his papers to the court, the prison was not required to provide him with free postage to do so. Muhammad v. Mitchell, No. 07-1010, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 17076 (10th Cir.).
Inmate failed to provide sufficient documentation to show that he missed a filing deadline because of actions by prison officials which had the effect of denying him access to the courts, either as to his direct criminal appeal or his post-conviction petition. The prisoner also failed to file a brief in opposition to the defendant officials' motion for summary judgment as to the effect of their actions on two civil lawsuits, so that summary judgment was also granted on claims related to those cases. Finally, the prisoner also failed to show that prison officials retaliated against him for engaging in protected activity of attempting to access the courts. Gordon v. Lappin, No. 06-4154, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 11977 (3rd Cir.).
Federal appeals court rejects prisoner's claim that he was denied the right to access the courts in a meaningful way because of the absence of a prison law library when the prison hired contract attorneys who came to the prison several days a month, met with inmates individually for approximately 15 minutes, answered simple legal questions, and dispensed legal forms. While these attorneys were not compensated for researching legal issues for inmates, they did perform limited legal research on an "ad hoc" basis. The prisoner failed to show that he suffered an actual injury to his case as a result of this system. White v. Kautzky, No. 05-3750, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 16930 (8th Cir.).
A county did not violate the constitutional rights to counsel of a man held in a county jail after a warrantless arrest by denying him an appointed lawyer when he was taken before a magistrate to receive certain statutory warnings under Texas law, since that appearance did not amount to the beginnings of a prosecution against him triggering his right to counsel under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment, but primarily involved the setting of bond. Rothgery v. Gillespie County Texas, No. 06-50267, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 15541 (5th Cir.).
Deaf prisoner with a limited ability to read and write English, who was also indigent, was unable to represent himself on his disability discrimination claims and should be provided with an appointed lawyer. The court, on its own motion, entered an order for the appointment of a lawyer, despite the prior denial of the prisoner's motion seeking one, finding that it was unfair and unrealistic to expect that the prisoner could have expressed in his written motion the legal factors or arguments required to show the need for an appointed lawyer. Williams v. Hayman, No. 06-3705, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 41890 (D.N.J.).
Correctional officer was entitled to summary judgment in prisoner's lawsuit accusing him of violating his right of access to the courts. The prisoner failed to show that the officer's alleged interference with his prison mail caused him to suffer any actual injury to his ability to pursue litigation. Tuzon v. Miller, No. 05-16234, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 14212 (9th Cir.).
A prisoner who alleged a denial of access to a law library for only a short time failed to show that this denied him a constitutionally protected right of access to the courts, since he did not show how this hindered his litigation efforts. Further, his claim that he was denied access to an inmate grievance procedure did not state a claim for violation of due process, since he had no constitutionally protected right of access to such a grievance procedure. The appeals court also rejected the prisoner's claim that he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he was fed "nutra-loaf" while placed in isolation for twenty days. Thomas v. Warner, No. 06-10883, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 13265 (11th Cir.).
A prisoner who failed to show how alleged denial of access to a law library prevented him from pursuing a meritorious claim to the courts could not pursue a federal civil rights claim. The record showed, in fact, that despite the alleged denial of access, he had managed to submit state appeals, state habeas petitions, and federal petitions that were either still under review by the courts on the merits, or which were, in some cases, denied. He only showed that one such denial was based on procedural grounds, and that denial was based on multiple reasons, only one of which was a delay in filing the petition, which he failed to explain. Noble v. Adams, No. 1:03-cv-05407, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 36494 (E.D. Cal.).
Prisoner's claim that correctional employees used excessive force against him was rejected after he failed to refute the evidence presented by the defendants that the back pain he experienced was the result of a medical condition--a degenerative disc disease he suffers from, rather being caused a defendant's conduct. Appeals court also upholds rejection of claims for denial of access to the courts and for purported due process violations in connection with a disciplinary hearing in which the prisoner was found not guilty of battery. Billups v. Hammon, No. 06-55274, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 12672 (9th Cir.).
Prisoner claimed that, as a result of an alleged Arizona Department of Corrections policy removing prison law libraries, he did not have knowledge of a specific Supreme Court case when he filed his appeal, and that this might have aided him in achieving a reduced sentence. The federal trial court ruled that he did not show that he was prevented from bringing to court a non-frivolous claim, or suffered an actual injury. His motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of his federal civil rights lawsuit was denied. Faulkner v. Schriro, No. CV 06-2966, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 32630 (D. Ariz.).
Prisoner who was not pursuing an appeal from his federal criminal conviction, a habeas corpus petition, or a civil rights claim could not pursue a federal civil rights claim for a violation of his right of access to the courts based on the claimed denial of access to a prison law library. Valentine v. Drew, No. 9:05-CV-232, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 33460 (N.D.N.Y.).
When a Texas inmate failed to identify any non-frivolous claim he would have asserted in either state or federal court in petitions for habeas review, he could not pursue his federal civil rights claim that his constitutional right of access to the courts was violated by a court clerk's inaction in response to his request for copies of certain court documents. Martin v. Rodriguez-Mendoza, No. 06-50117, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 4026 (5th Cir.).
An inmate failed to show that alleged inadequate law library time and the confiscation of his legal manual denied him access to the courts, prevented him from filing lawsuits, or effected his ability to prosecute his claims. Vasquez v. Kingston, No. 06-C-743-C, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 22726 (W.D. Wis.).
Prisoner did not show a violation of his constitutional rights merely by alleging that his "legal mail" was opened and visually inspected by the prison mailroom staff outside of his presence. Additionally, since the mail involved was mail from the courts, rather than from his lawyer, it was not "legal mail" for purposes of his lawsuit, since it was a public document. Meador v. Pleasant Valley State Prison, No. 1:05-CV-0939, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 26505 (E.D. Cal.).
Prisoner failed to show that prison employees who allegedly confiscated his legal property and interfered with him filing a timely motion for a new trial in a criminal proceeding violated his right of access to the courts, since he did not establish that this prevented him from asserting a non-frivolous claim. Calton v. Perrin, No. 06-20499, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 5817 (5th Cir.).
Prison librarian's refusal to allow an inmate access to a comb-binding machine interfered with his ability to file, in a timely manner, his petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking review of a state criminal conviction, causing actual damage to his right of access to the courts, and the librarian was not entitled to qualified immunity when he failed to offer any justification for restricting the prisoner's access to the machine on this occasion. Further proceedings ordered solely on the question of damages to be awarded. Phillips v. Hust, No. 04-36021, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 3268 (9th Cir.). [N/R]
Prisoner failed to show that he was denied access to the courts in the absence of any demonstrable injury to any non-frivolous lawsuit he filed. The prisoner failed to provide evidence of any court orders showing that his lawsuits had been dismissed or otherwise impeded due to prison limitations on his access to writing and mailing materials. Additionally, the history of the prisoner's litigation was itself sufficient to show that any claim that he was provided with inadequate materials with which to file and pursue lawsuits was frivolous. Lynn v. Anderson-Varella, No. 06-3172, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 6314 (D. Kan.). [N/R]
Pennsylvania prisoner could not pursue federal civil rights claim over alleged denial of access to the courts because his claim was ultimately one questioning the validity of a criminal conviction that had not previously been set aside Additionally, his claims against the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in his official capacity were barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity. Carabello v. Beard, No. 06-336, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 94076 (E.D. Pa.). [N/R]
A federal trial court acted erroneously in dismissing all of a prisoner's claims after it determined that he had exhausted available administrative remedies as to only one of them. Appeals court rules, however, that the claim on which the prisoner exhausted the grievance procedure, denial of his right of access to the courts, was frivolous, since his constitutional right of access to the courts did not include a requirement that he be provided with the capacity to pursue a lawsuit for wrongful discharge. Stephens v. Guilfoyle, No. 06-6149, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 3388 (10th Cir.). [N/R]
Prisoner's claim that he was denied meaningful access to the courts because of the lack of certain resources in the prison law library was meritless when he failed to show that this caused him any actual injury to the ability to pursue a particular legal claim. Awala v. New Jersey Dept. of Corrections, No. 05-4899, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 2094 (3rd Cir.). [N/R]
A prisoner who argued, in objecting to the dismissal of his lawsuit for alleged violation of his right of access to the courts, that the defendant prison officials took actions which prevented him from filing court actions concerning prison conditions or his conviction was entitled to amend his complaint to assert this claim. His initial complaint, which appeared to merely claim that their actions interfered with his ability to "effectively" litigate a habeas corpus petition, did not state a constitutional claim, and was therefore dismissed, with leave to amend. Russworm v. Yates, 1:05-cv-00649, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 84267 (E.D. Cal.). [N/R]
Prison officials' actions in preventing prisoner from receiving mail containing legal materials bought for him by a person with a relationship to another prisoner did not violate his rights. The restriction imposed was justified by legitimate interest in prevention of extortion, contraband smuggling, and unauthorized bartering among prisoners assisted by persons outside the facility. Wardell v. Maggard, No. 05-1210, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 29404 (10th Cir.). [N/R]
Federal appeals court reinstates prisoner's claim for denial of access to the courts. Prisoner stated a viable claim by asserting that correctional officials required him to request legal materials exactly without any knowledge of what materials might be available to him, and that these actions prevented him from filing a state habeas corpus petition and from challenging the retroactive changing of his sentence. Trujillo v. Williams, No. 04-2257, 465 F.3d 1210 (10th Cir. 2006). [N/R]
Even if the legal materials provided to the plaintiff inmate were inadequate, as he claimed, he failed to show that this resulted in any detriment to his ability to pursue an appeal in his criminal case. Driggers v. Carlson, No. 04-C-322, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 69374 (E.D. Wis.). [N/R]
Prisoner did not show how alleged confiscation of "excessive" legal materials by prison officials interfered with his preparation and filing of a brief in another civil rights lawsuit, and therefore did not show a of his constitutional right of access to the courts. The prisoner's appeal was frivolous, and he was properly sanctioned by being ordered to pay $500 to the clerk of the court. Taylor v. Stanciel, No. 05-60428, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 25387 (5th Cir.). [N/R]
Prisoner failed to show how the alleged loss or theft of his manila folders and blank legal forms damaged his ability to pursue a particular legal claim, or explain how the defendant correctional officials were responsible for the alleged loss of his legal materials. Burden v. Warden, No. 06-1175, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 26654 (10th Cir.). [N/R]
Muslim prisoner stated viable claims for violation of his rights in prison officials' actions requiring Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims to celebrate religious holiday services together, in denying him access to religious worship and holiday meals while in keeplock, and in forcing him to choose between attending religious services and using the law library on religious holidays. Prison officials failed to offer particularized justifications for these alleged deprivations, and were therefore not entitled to summary judgment. Salahuddin v. Goord, No. 04-3470, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 26819 (2d Cir.). [2006 JB Dec]
Prison officials were entitled to summary judgment in lawsuit claiming that inmate was denied access to legal materials needed to pursue lawsuits and criminal appeals when there was evidence that officials had attempted to provide him with access to his materials, but the plaintiff prisoner failed to cooperate, and sometimes would even refuse to accept the property. Ferrell v. Beard, No. 3:CV-01-0924, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 70825 (M.D. Pa.). [N/R]
The U.S. government sought to review materials impounded from various foreign detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after detainees committed suicide or attacked guards, and the prisoners sought the return of documents seized from their cells. Among the papers seized from all detainees there following the incidents, some handwritten notes were on papers stamped "attorney-client privileged" that appear to relate to suicides and other security issues. A federal trial court upheld the government's review of impounded material containing attorney-client communications between detainees and their lawyers, so long as this was done using a "filter litigation team" of personnel, including translators, who would not be involved in future litigation, and would be prohibiting from disclosing any privileged attorney-client communications to anyone other than the court, with an exception for information concerning national security. Hicks (Rasul) v. Bush, No. 02-0299, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 65973 (D.D.C.). [N/R]
Prisoner stated an adequate claim for denial of access to the courts by alleging that prison officials denied him writing materials and legal materials, and that this resulted in the loss or dismissal of pending litigation. Pratt v. Tarr, No. 05-4470, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 24298 (7th Cir.). [2006 JB Nov]
North Dakota prisoner was not entitled to apply directly to the state Supreme Court for a writ barring a prison from requiring him, an allegedly indigent prisoner, to, among other things, pay postage and copying costs for legal documents. Such direct petitions to the state Supreme Court may not be based on the enforcement of the rights of a private person. Wheeler v. Schuetzle, No. 20060074, 714 N.W.2d 829 (N.D. 2006). [N/R]
Prisoner's claim that prison officials negligently mishandled or destroyed his legal mail was insufficient to state a federal civil rights claim for violation of his right of access to the courts. The prisoner failed to show that any actual harm to pending litigation resulted from these actions or that officials' actions were anything more than negligence. Strong v. Woodford, No. CV-04-8596, 428 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (C.D. Cal. 2006). [N/R]
New Jersey failed to show that it had a reasonable basis, related to prison safety and security, in opening prisoners' legal mail outside of their presence. Inmates have a First Amendment interest in being present when incoming legal mail is opened by prison employees. Terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, and incidents that fall of transmission of anthrax through the mail were not sufficient, years later, to support the continuation of a policy adopted as an emergency procedure. Jones v. Brown, No. 03-3823, 04-4426, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 21601 (3d Cir.).[2006 JP Oct]
Alien engaged in fighting against proceedings aimed at removing him from the country failed to show that Connecticut prison officials unconstitutionally violated his right of access to the courts by not providing him with adequate time in the law library to properly litigate a habeas corpus petition. The record showed that he was allowed to visit the library every other day for about an hour, as well as on 63 additional occasions during a three month period, and that he managed to file numerous motions in court, and that his habeas petition remained pending. Accordingly, he could not show that the alleged deprivation caused him any actual injury. Auguste v. Department of Corrections, No. 3:03CV2052, 424 F. Supp.2d 363 (D. Conn. 2006). [N/R]
Federal appeals court allows class action challenging conditions of confinement for civilly committed "Sexually Violent Predators" in California to proceed on most claims, including claims involving procedural and substantive due process, privacy, excessive force, access to courts, unlawful retaliation for grievances or lawsuits, and forced medication in non-emergency situations. Hydrick v. Hunter, No. 03-56712, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 13497 (9th Cir.). [2006 JB Jul]
Louisiana prisoner stated a viable claim for denial of access to the courts based on allegations that his law books were confiscated when he was transferred to a new facility, and that he was also denied access to a law library or legal assistance, making him unable to adequately prepare for pending legal proceedings. Gray v. State of Louisiana, No. 2005-617, 923 So. 2d 812 (La. App. 2006). [N/R]
Prisoner failed to show that a search of his cell and the confiscation of legal papers he possessed which belonged to other prisoners was unlawful retaliation for his exercise of his First Amendment rights in issuing a subpoena to the prison warden in a pending case. Peterson v. Lucero, No. 04-2318, 165 Fed. Appx. 657 (10th Cir. 2006). [N/R]
Trial court improperly dismissed prisoner's lawsuit claiming that reduced access to prison law library resulted in him losing in an action to obtain certain "credit time" that he was entitled to. Appeals court rejects the reasoning that the right of access to the courts merely requires "access," the ability to file a complaint or appeal. "Lenient" standards should be applied in determining whether the prisoner's complaint, which he filed as his own attorney, stated a valid claim, and the trial court acted improperly in denying him the right to amend his complaint before a defendant had responded. Marshall v. Knight, No. 04-1062, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 10395 (7th Cir.). [2006 JB Jun]
Prisoner failed to show that he suffered any actual injury to his right of access to the courts from a correctional officer's alleged confiscation of some legal materials from him. Asad v. Crosby, No. 04-13825, 158 Fed. Appx. 166 (11th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
A single instance of opening a letter from a prisoner's mother outside of his presence was not sufficient to violate his right of access to the courts, even if it was legal mail, properly marked, with the envelope stating "P.O.A." (power of attorney) and that it contained legal documents from court records. There was no indication of any pattern of censorship of such mail or any other actions that would impede the prisoner in accessing the courts. Additionally, a power of attorney does not confer any right to represent a person in court, so there was no issue of attorney-client confidentiality, and court documents, if enclosed, were court documents also not entitled to any confidentiality. Bloom v. Muckenthaler, No. 93,574, 127 P.3d 342 (Kan. App. 2005). [N/R]
A prison's complete ban on all mail between a prisoner and his attorney-friend, based on the prisoner being suspected of engaging in a prohibited paralegal business with the friend was overbroad and risked chilling the prisoner's access to the courts and counsel. A preliminary injunction against the ban was therefore granted. Evans v. Vare, No. 3:05-CV-3CR, 402 F. Supp. 2d 1188 (D. Nev. 2005). [N/R]
Prisoner who was held in administrative segregation for three years at three different Colorado prisons asserted several non-frivolous claims, including for unlawful retaliation against him for complaining about his segregation, complete denial of outdoor exercise, and denial of access to "church fellowship," and the prison law library. Fogle v. Colorado Dep't of Corr., No. 05-1405, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 2024 (10th Cir.).[2006 JB Mar]
Jail's limitations on the supplying of photocopies that a prisoner wanted to use in his habeas corpus case was not a violation of his constitutional right of access to the courts since he did not show that the court rejected his habeas petition because of missing attachments. The prisoner, therefore, failed to prove that he suffered any harm. Additionally, the prisoner had no right to free unlimited photocopies. Logue v. Chatham County Detention Center, No. 05-10983, 152 Fed. Appx. 781 (11th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Prisoner was not denied adequate legal assistance at prison disciplinary hearing which found him guilty of rule violations arising out of a urine sample that tested positive for opiates. The prisoner was allowed the assistance of a prison teacher at the hearing, and prisoner made an explicit statement at the hearing that he was satisfied with this assistance. The determination of the hearing was adequately supported by some evidence of the prisoner's guilt. Alicea v. Howell, No. 03-CV-65071, 387 F. Supp. 2d 227 (W.D.N.Y. 2005). [N/R]
U.S. Supreme Court holds that the alleged denial of access to a law library to an incarcerated criminal defendant acting as his own defense attorney is not a basis for federal habeas relief, because the right of such a defendant to access is not clearly established. Kane v. Espitia, No. 04-1538, 126 S. Ct. 407 (2005). [2006 JB Jan]
Federal prisoner preparing a motion challenging his conviction was not unconstitutionally denied access to the courts by prison officials, even though he was placed in a facility without a law library, when he only remained there for twenty-two days during a one-year period he had to file the motion in question, and after his transfer out of there, he once again had access to a law library. Additionally, he also admitted that he himself had delayed writing the motion. Mathison v. Swenson, No. 04-2626, 143 Fed. Appx. 730 (8th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Correctional officer was properly denied summary judgment on prisoner's claim that he had him transferred to another facility in retaliation for his complaint about the officer to his supervisors concerning the officer's alleged refusal to authorize the payment of funds from the prisoner's account to pay his lawyer for work in connection with his criminal appeal. If true, this would be violative of his First Amendment right of access to the courts. Siggers-El v. Barlow, No. 03-2291, 412 F.3d 693 (6th Cir. 2005). [2005 JB Nov]
Hawaii prisoner was entitled to a hearing on his claim that he was unlawfully punished for assisting other prisoners with legal matters, Hawaii Supreme Court holds, noting that a prisoner may not be punished for assisting other prisoners in gaining "meaningful access" to the courts. Hutch v. State of Hawaii, No. 25711, 114 P.3d 917 (Hawaii 2005). 2005 JB Nov]
State correctional agencies were immune from a federal civil rights lawsuit for damages under the Eleventh Amendment as they are not "persons" for purposes of claims under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. Plaintiff prisoner also failed to show that individual correctional officers he sued were individually liable for alleged violations of his rights, since there was no proof that the claimed denial of access to the court resulted in any prejudice to a particular non-frivolous legal claim, and an officer who opened his legal mail did so solely for the purpose of looking for contraband and did so in the prisoner's presence. Kelley v. DiPaola, No. CIV.A.04-11192, 379 F. Supp. 2d 96 (D. Mass. 2005). [N/R]
Prison mail room supervisor was not entitled to qualified immunity when there were disputed issues of fact as to whether she intentionally did not send the prisoner's legal mail to a court, resulting in the denial of his request that the court appoint him a lawyer in his post-conviction proceeding. This conduct, if true, would violate the prisoner's clearly established right of access to the courts. Geitz v. Overall, No. 04-3999, 137 Fed. Appx. 927 (8th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Alleged failure of prison supervisory personnel to properly supervise and train officers in proper distribution of mail to prisoners was not a violation of a prisoner's rights when he failed to show that he had been deprived of his mail, that other inmates' possession of some of his mail caused him any actual harm, or that the alleged violation of the prison's mail policy prevented him from filing a specific legal document with the court. Sandoval v. Fox, No. 04-41251, 135 Fed. Appx. 691 (5th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Prison officials' alleged refusal to provide prisoner free photocopies of legal documents he claimed he was required to serve on the defendants in his federal civil rights lawsuit did not deny him his constitutional right of access to the courts. The prisoner did not claim that the federal court would not accept service of hand-copied documents or that he was unable to produce them. His lawsuit was therefore properly dismissed as frivolous. Miller v. Donald, No. 04-13695, 132 Fed. Appx. 270 (11th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Correctional officers' alleged confiscation of prisoner's legal materials did not violate his right of access to the courts when he failed to show that this action caused actual injury to his attempt to obtain post-conviction relief on his criminal conviction when the court ultimately ruled that none of his post-conviction claims could be asserted under applicable law. Gordon v. Morton, No. 04-4754, 131 Fed. Appx. 797 (3rd Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Prisoner failed to show that correctional officers' alleged failure to respond to certain requests for legal writing supplies and specific law books violated his constitutional right of access to the courts. During the three-year period during which he alleged that his right of access to the courts was "restricted," the prisoner managed to file at least forty-nine lawsuits in both federal and state court. Davidson v. Murray, No. 92-CV-0283, 371 F. Supp. 2d 361 (W.D.N.Y. 2005). [N/R]
Requiring prisoner who had filed numerous frivolous grievances to have his grievances screened by a grievance coordinator for frivolousness before allowing them to be filed did not violate his First Amendment rights or deny him access to the courts. No constitutional right to "unfettered access" to prison grievance process. Walker v. Michigan Department of Corrections, #04-1347, 128 Fed. Appx. 441 (6th Cir. 2005). [2005 JB Sep]
Trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to provide plaintiff inmate with an appointed lawyer in his lawsuit claiming excessive use of force against him, since the prisoner was able to articulate the issues in his case on his own and the case did not require the use of expert testimony. Shabazz v. Felsnik, No. 04-2367, 129 Fed. Appx. 726 (3rd Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Idaho state statute requiring prisoners to pay civil lawsuit filing fees when they have funds to do so is not an unconstitutional denial of access to the courts. Trial court, however, should not have dismissed prisoner's lawsuit for failure to pay a filing fee, as his inmate account statement showed a negative balance, which, if true, meant he should not be required to pay the fee until he had funds to do so. Madison v. Craven, No. 30605, 105 P.3d 705 (Idaho App. 2005). [N/R]
Prisoner who sued officials for alleged unreasonable restrictions on his access to the law library could not obtain injunctive relief when he failed to show how these restrictions had actually hindered his attempts to pursue his legal claims. Longstreth v. Ward, No. 04-6160, 113 Fed. Appx. 882 (10th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Because the Sixth Amendment right to confrontation of witnesses does not apply in civil lawsuits, including a federal civil rights lawsuit, a federal trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to appoint a lawyer for the plaintiff prisoner early in the case, which resulted in him not being represented during certain depositions. Lott v. Ferrell, No. 03-3866, 109 Fed. Appx. 827 (8th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
The alleged destruction of the prisoner's legal mail, which he claimed made it impossible for him to timely challenge the denial of his parole, did not result in any prejudice or actual injury when the parole board, in his subsequent applications, repeatedly denied him parole. Defendant prison officials were entitled to summary judgment in prisoner's lawsuit claiming that the alleged destruction of the mail denied him his constitutional right of access to the courts. Gilmore v. Goord, No. 03-CV-6239, 360 F. Supp. 2d 528 (W.D. N.Y. 2005). [N/R]
Prisoner could pursue claim that the failure to forward his legal mail to another facility violated his right of access to the courts when it prevented him from responding to a motion for summary judgment in a pending lawsuit. Prisoner did not have to show that he necessarily would have prevailed on that motion had he been able to respond, merely that he was "hindered" from pursuing a non-frivolous claim. Simkins v. Bruce, No. 04-3072, 406 F.3d 1239 (10th Cir. 2005). [2005 JB Jul]
Department of Corrections' removal of secondary family law materials, inmate created pleadings and forms, and limitation of the availability of inter-library loans did not violate Florida prisoners' right of access to the Florida courts, when the materials remaining in the law library were adequate to research and pursue any claim in the state's courts. Henderson v. Crosby, No. 1D03-2367, 883 So. 2d 847 (Fla. App. 1st Dist. 2004). [N/R]
Prison law librarian's alleged refusal to allow a prisoner to bind, in a timely manner, his petition for writ of certiorari, if true, would violate his First Amendment right of access to the courts. Genuine issues of material fact as to the librarian's motivation in denying the prisoner timely access to the binder barred summary judgment on the prisoner's retaliation claim. Phillips v. Hust, No. 01-1252, 338 F. Supp. 2d 1148 (D. Ore. 2004). [N/R]
Inmate's incarceration did not excuse him from compliance with court's procedural rules which apply to all litigants concerning obtaining service of process. Inmate's divorce action against his wife, which he filed while acting as his own lawyer, was therefore properly dismissed when he failed to obtain service on her. Hessmer v. Hessmer, 138 S.W.3d 901 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003). [N/R]
Even if a letter from a legal advocacy group (the "Innocence Project of Minnesota") to a prisoner was protected as "legal mail," the alleged mistaken opening of the letter outside of the presence of the prisoner was not a violation of his First Amendment rights since it was an isolated incident and did not interfere with his right of access to the courts. The prison employee opening it believed that the group who sent the letter did not qualify as a legal advocacy group. Additionally, correspondence from a city police department and the North Dakota Department of Corrections was not constitutionally protected legal mail. Moore v. Schuetzle, No. A4-01-038, 354 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (D.N.D. 2005). [N/R]
Prisoner who claimed that prison guards violated his constitutional rights by confiscating his legal work at gunpoint could not pursue a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking compensatory damages for any mental or emotional injuries resulting from the alleged seizure in the absence of any claimed physical injury, pursuant to the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, prohibiting claims for mental injury without physical injury, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997e. Taylor v. Milton, No. 04-60569, 124 Fed. Appx. 248 (5th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
State prison's policy of opening and inspecting prisoners' legal mail outside their presence in order to detect presence of contraband, particularly anthrax, was a violation of their First Amendment rights, but defendant officials were entitled to qualified immunity. Because of the "uncertainties" created by terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, reasonable prison officials could have been unclear about the fact that their conduct violated the prisoners' rights. Allah v. Brown, No. CIV. 02-5298, 351 F. Supp. 2d 278 (D.N.J. 2004).[N/R]
Ohio state prison regulations limiting inmates' visits to the law library, but not their access to library materials, while they were placed on cell isolation were justified by legitimate penological interests in punishing prisoners who violate institutional rules. Federal appeals court finds, therefore, that even if these regulations did, in fact, result in actual injury to a prisoner's pending case attempting to pursue a collateral appeal of his sentence, this was inadequate to show an unconstitutional denial of access to the courts. Further, even if the denial of access was a clearly established violation of the prisoner's right of access to the courts, the prison librarian and library administrator did not know of his deadline for filing a state court motion for reconsideration of his challenge to his sentence, and were therefore entitled to qualified immunity, since "no reasonable jury could find that the defendants knew or should have known their conduct violated, or even arguably violated" the prisoner's constitutional rights. Colvin v. Schaublin, No. 03-4368, 113 Fed. Appx. 655 (6th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Complexities of the legal issues in a lawsuit brought by an immigration detainee claiming that he was attacked by correctional officers while in a facility operated by a private corporation required the vacating of a jury award for the defendants when the trial court failed to appoint a lawyer to represent the detainee. Agyeman v. Corrections Corporation of America, No. 03-16068, 390 F.3d 1101 (9th Cir. 2004). [2005 JB Mar]
Prisoner's claim that "unspecified legal materials" were missing from his property after he was transferred to medical segregation did not adequately support a claim for violation of his right of access to the courts, when he failed to show that he was, as a result, preventing from presenting any non-frivolous legal claim. Clark v. Corrections Corporation of America, #03-6377, 113 Fed. Appx. 65 (6th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Seizure of a prisoner's word processing equipment did not violate his constitutional right of access to the courts in the absence of a showing that it caused him prejudice in pursuing non-frivolous legal claims concerning prison conditions or his criminal conviction. Scott v. Martin, No. 03-2268, 112 Fed. Appx. 409 (6th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Denial of prisoner's repeated requests for appointed counsel in his federal civil rights lawsuit claiming he was denied adequate medical care and housing was not an abuse of the trial court's discretion. The trial court found that the prisoner himself appeared to have a "good knowledge" of the applicable court rules and had shown, through his filed motions and responses, that he had the capacity to represent himself in the case, in which the issues were not so complex nor were the merits so strong as to justify the appointment of a lawyer. Thornhill v. Cox, No. 03-3680, 113 Fed. Appx. 179 (7th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Prison rule prohibiting the spreading of "rumors" about prison staff members was unconstitutionally vague and was improperly used to punish a prisoner for communicating the contents of his grievance to his mother, who subsequently advertised its contents on the Internet in order to seek legal counsel for him. Cassels v. Stalder, No. CIV.A.03-0709-D-M2, 342 F. Supp. 2d 555 (M.D. La. 2004). [2005 JB Mar]
Prisoner's claim that the refusal of jail officials to provide him with large envelopes that he owned in order to mail documents concerning pending court cases denied him access to the courts failed because he failed to allege that this caused any actual prejudice in those cases. He did not claim that this had resulted in the dismissal of a case or the missing of any court deadline, or that the courts failed to receive his submissions. Jackson v. Gill, No. 03-5045, 92 Fed. Appx. 171 (6th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner did not have an absolute right to be physically present at the trial of his small claims action against two state employees for alleged damages to a television set which was his property. While he had a constitutional right to bring the action, this did not include any entitlement to be transported to the court or have the trial conducted at the prison, since he could choose to submit the case to the court through documentary evidence, obtain someone else to represent him at the trial, participate in the trial by telephone conference call, or postpone the trial until he was released from confinement. Niksich v. Cotton, No. 48802-0402-CV-80, 810 N.E.2d 1003 (Ind. 2004). [N/R]
Illinois prisoner was not entitled to a judicial order requiring prison employees to provide him with photocopying in connection with litigation. The prisoner failed to specify which non-frivolous legal actions had been adversely affected by the alleged refusal to copy the requested documents. Turner-El v. West, No. 5-03-0406, 811 N.E.2d 728 (Ill. App. 5th Dist. 2004). [N/R]
Representation of prisoner by an appointed lawyer was sufficient to provide access to the courts, barring his claims for denial of his rights based of lack of materials from jail's law library. Bourdon v. Loughren, No. 03-0196, 386 F.3d 88 (2d Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Dec]
Man held under Illinois sexually dangerous persons statute, under which criminal proceedings are stayed for the purpose of treatment for mental illness was a pretrial detainee properly classified as a "prisoner" for purposes of the exhaustion of remedies requirement and "three strikes" rule of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. His lawsuit asserting a claim for alleged inadequate access to prison law library was therefore properly dismissed for failure to exhaust available administrative remedies. Kalinowski v. Bond, No. 02-3273, 358 F.3d 978 (7th Cir.), cert, denied, 124 S. Ct. 2843 (2004). [2004 JB Dec]
Prisoner who prevailed on his claim that his right of access to the courts was unconstitutionally interfered with by denial of physical access to the prison's law library (allowing him only to request particular materials be brought to him in his cell by providing their precise citation) was entitled to an award of $99,981.43 in attorneys' fees and costs. Amount of attorneys' fees award in case were not limited by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997e(d)(1)(A) when a settlement agreement provided that fees would be awarded under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988. LaPlante v. Pepe, #01-10186-NG, 307 F. Supp. 2d 219 (D. Mass. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner's civil lawsuit concerning alleged improper confiscation of legal papers from his cell was regarded as filed when he delivered it to prison officials for forwarding to the court, even though it was ultimately not actually received by the court within the applicable six-month statute of limitations period. Court also rules that lawsuits against a public entity or public employee are governed by the six-month specific statute of limitations rather than a longer statute of limitations applicable to private defendants. Moore v. Twomey, No. C044749, 16 Cal. Rptr. 3d 163 (Cal. App. 3d Dist. 2004). [N/R]
The fact that a Tennessee inmate was incarcerated did not make him immune from the legal requirement that he offer expert witness affidavits opposing the defendants' motions for summary judgment in his medical malpractice lawsuit arising out of the death of his mother. Additionally, the fact that he was acting as his own lawyer and was incarcerated did not entitle him to the appointment of a "special master" to assist him in the discovery process. Prisoner also had no arguable right to appointed medical experts. "Courts should not allow pro se litigants, including incarcerated prisoners, to shift the burden of litigation to the courts or to their adversaries." The court also noted that "indigent civil litigants, unlike indigent criminal defendants, possess neither a constitution nor statutory right to court-appointed assistance." Hessmer v. Miranda, No. M2001-02056-COA-R3-CV, 138 S.W.3d 241 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003). [N/R]
Iowa inmates were not third-party beneficiaries of a contract between the state Department of Corrections and the state Office of the Public Defender to supply legal services to prisoners. Additionally, two plaintiff prisoners failed to show that their constitutional rights were violated by the failure to provide them with more assistance in connection with court proceedings when one of them did not show that he had been denied any specific request, and the second was represented by a competent appointed lawyer. There was a genuine issue of material fact, however, as to whether a third prisoner's constitutional right to file a petition for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court was violated by the existence of an inadequate prison law library and the refusal of the public defender's contract attorney to assist him. Walters v. Kautzky, No. 02-1177, 680 N.W.2d 1 (Iowa 2004). [N/R]
Even if prison law librarian failed to timely complete prisoner's request for copies of certain documents, this did not show an unconstitutional denial of his right of access to the courts, when the documents in question would not have changed a federal magistrate's conclusion that certain defendants in the prisoner's civil rights lawsuit should be dismissed for lack of personal involvement in the incidents at issue, and that the history of his treatment for respiratory problems, including a mix-up in his prescriptions, showed nothing more than negligence at most, and was inadequate to show a constitutional violation. Rumsey v. Michigan Department of Corrections, No. 03-CV-72221-DT, 327 F. Supp. 2d 767 (E.D. Mich. 2004). [N/R]
Mississippi Supreme Court rules that "mailbox rule," regarding court papers as having been filed as of the date they are mailed by an inmate, rather than when received by the court clerk, applies to filings in a civil case seeking review of an administrative decision. The court vacated and remanded the dismissal of a lawsuit by the plaintiff prisoner challenging the procedures used to put him in solitary confinement as a violation of due process. Easley v. Roach, No. 2003-CP-01557-SCT, 879 So. 2d 1041 (Miss. 2004). [N/R]
Trial judge improperly dismissed prisoner's lawsuit claiming that he was improperly denied a court appearance and access to a lawyer for 73 days while being held in jail on an alleged parole violation. The prisoner's claim was for denial of access to the courts, so that success in his lawsuit would not necessarily imply the invalidity of the arrest for violation of parole. French v. Adams County Detention Center, No. 04-1094, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 16648 (10th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Oct]
Prisoner was not entitled to relief from correctional institution's seizure and forfeiture of personal property which exceeded rules concerning space limitations for such property in his cell. Prisoner failed to show that the state lacked a "legitimate interest" in regulating the volume of property kept in prisoner cells, including legal materials, and the court rejected the argument that he had an unqualified right to keep all of his legal material in his cell. Prison rules allowed him to keep legal materials so long as they fit within the 2.4 cubic feet limitation generally applicable to all personal property kept in inmate cells. In re Application for Forfeiture of Unauthorized Items Confiscated From Inmates Pursuant to AR 5120-9-55, No. CA2003-05-021, 811 N.E.3d 589 (Ohio App. 12 Dist. 2004). [N/R]
Trial court abused its discretion when it first denied a plaintiff prisoner's motion to testify by deposition and then dismissed his lawsuit for want of prosecution based on the prisoner's failure to be present in court. The prisoner had also filed the appropriate motions to be allowed to come to the trial or in the alternative to have the trial at the prison, so that the judge's actions denied him equal access to the courts. McConico v. Culliver, #2020744, 872 So. 2d 872 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003). [N/R]
Federal appeals court rejects prisoner's claim that he was forced, during a modified lockdown following a prison riot, to choose between his constitutional right to regular outdoor exercise and his constitutional right of access to the courts. Evidence showed that, during the period in question, he had participated in between two to six hours of outdoor exercise per week, as well as managing to use the law library for a period of time sufficient to amend his complaint in one lawsuit, and to successfully file the lawsuit making the immediate claim. This showed that neither right was actually denied. Knight v. Castellaw, No. 03-16870, 99 Fed. Appx. 790 (9th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner could not pursue federal civil rights claim over alleged interference with his right of access to the courts based on warden's decision to end his telephone access to legal personnel. The prisoner failed to show that this resulted in prejudice to his ability to pursue non-frivolous litigation. Additionally, the prisoner was not denied access to a telephone system which was monitored, and failed to show that he had submitted a request form to make an unmonitored phone call to legal personnel on that system. Robinson v. Gunja, #03-1262, 92 Fed. Appx. 624 (10th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
U.S. Supreme Court rules that states may be sued for damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for acts of disability discrimination which allegedly interfere with the constitutional right of access to the courts, and that such claims are not barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity. Court does not provide a clear answer about whether similar lawsuits against governmental employees for damages are proper in other circumstances of alleged disability discrimination in the providing of public services or programs. Tennessee v. Lane, #02-1667, 124 S. Ct. 1978 (2004). [2004 JB Jul]
Prison mailroom personnel did not violate prisoner's right of access to the courts even if they deliberately delayed mailing certain items to the court in his ongoing federal lawsuit, and even if this delay caused him to miss court deadlines. The prisoner's case was ultimately dismissed on its merits after a bench trial, and not on the basis of the missed court deadlines, so that the defendants' actions did not result in any prejudice to his case. Deleon v. Doe, #03-0093, 361 F.3d 93 (2nd Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Private company develops "Touchsonic Legal Research Kiosks for Inmates" as a possible alternative for facilities without adequate space or budget for law libraries. [N/R]
Federal trial court was wrong to dismiss prisoner's civil rights lawsuit claiming that the confiscation of his legal papers resulted in the loss of "several lawsuits." While the manner in which the prisoner presented the claims may have been "artless," the complaint alleged facts which, if true, would be sufficient to require relief. Thomson v. Washington, #03-2304, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 6086 (7th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB May]
Wisconsin prisoner failed to show that prison officials denied him access to courts by refusing to provide him copies of his previously submitted grievance concerning his disciplinary conviction. Prisoner failed to show that the dismissal of his pending court proceeding was based on his failure to provide the court with a copy of the past grievance form, and therefore failed to show that he suffered actual harm. Tyler v. Bett, #03-2727, 86 Fed. Appx. 970 (7th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Ohio Supreme Court deputy clerks' application of court rules to prisoner's attempted filing of an untimely memorandum in his pending appeal did not violate his right to equal protection of law, since the rules applied equally to all those seeking to pursue appeals before the court. State Ex Rel. Fuller v. Mengel, 2003 Ohio 6448, 800 N.E.2d 25 (Ohio 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner could not assert a claim for denial of access to the courts based on refusal to allow him to visit the law library, in the absence of a showing of actual injury in a pending case. He could still pursue, however, his claim that he was denied access to legal materials in retaliation for filing grievances, since he had alleged a "chronology of events from which retaliation may plausibly be inferred." Westbrook v. Treon, #03-10004, 78 Fed. Appx. 970 (5th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Even if legal documents relating to pending cases were among the property allegedly destroyed by federal prison officials, prisoner had no viable claim for denial of his right of access to the courts in the absence of a showing that the loss of the materials resulted in specific prejudice to these court cases. Ortloff v. United States, #01-2725, 335 F.3d 652 (7th Cir. 2003). [2004 JB Jan]
Prisoner's claim that he was not aware of his legal rights and did not have access to an adequate law library, even if true, did not have the effect under Tennessee state law of extending the statute of limitations on his claims arising out of his arrest. Claims against state employees were time barred by the statute. Simmons v. Gath Baptist Church, 109 S.W.3d 370 (Tenn. App. 2003). [N/R]
Prison "mailbox" rule applied in determining whether a prisoner submitted a timely contest of the administrative forfeiture of his van by the FBI. The prisoner's papers contesting the forfeiture were filed when he delivered them to prison officials, not when it was received by the FBI. Appeals court reverses summary judgment in favor of the government in prisoner's challenge to the forfeiture. Longenette v. Krusing, No. 00-3690, 322 F.3d 758 (3rd Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Prison was entitled, under the terms of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, to the termination of a 14-year-old injunction that required a prison law clinic to remain open. Preclusion of termination of injunction if needed to correct a "current and ongoing" violation of a federally protected right did not cover possible future violations. Para-Professional Law Clinic at SCI-Graterford v. Beard, No. 02-2788, 334 F.3d 301 (3rd Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Dec]
Federal appeals court rules that the issue of which mail is "legal mail" which should only be opened in the prisoner's presence, after they request this, should not have been submitted to a jury, but rather decided by a judge. Jury award of $13,000 is reduced to $3,000 for the improper opening of three letters from a prisoner's attorney outside his presence. While mail from courts is also found to be "legal mail," prison mail clerks were entitled to qualified immunity for the opening of such letters, since the law on the subject was not previously clearly established. Sallier v. Brooks, No. 01-12269, 343 F.3d 868 (6th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Dec]
Prison rule limiting inmates to a monthly allotment of $10 for postage did not improperly interfere with prisoner's right of access to the courts. Rule was rationally connected to legitimate interest in permitting access, on an equal basis, for prisoners, given the limited funds available. Bronson v. Horn, 830 A.2d 1092 (Pa. Cmwlth 2003). [N/R]
Federal trial court had continuing jurisdiction over class of county inmates who brought lawsuits over detention facility overcrowding. Inmates who were moved to a new facility after settlement in the case were entitled to a preliminary injunction against restrictions which prevented their lawyer from visiting and restricted his phone calls to five minutes. McClendon v. City of Albuquerque, No. Civ. 95-23-Mv/DJS, 272 F. Supp. 2d 1250 (D. N.M. 2003). [N/R]
Pennsylvania and Massachusetts correctional authorities had a "shared responsibility" to make sure that a prisoner convicted of murder in Pennsylvania and then transferred to a Massachusetts prison had access to the courts, but prisoner did not show that he was entitled to an injunction requiring that he be given access to Pennsylvania legal materials when correctional officials arranged for legal representation for him in Pennsylvania post-conviction proceedings. Correctional officials can satisfy a prisoner's right of access to the courts either by providing access to law libraries or access to legal assistance. "A prison need not provide both; either one can be sufficient." Hannon v. Allen, 241 F. Supp. 2d 71 (D. Mass. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner was not entitled to an appointed lawyer to pursue his claims concerning alleged violations of his right of access to the courts and counsel, since the lawsuit did not involve "difficult" legal or factual issues and the prisoner, who acted as his own lawyer, was sufficiently familiar with federal civil rights actions. Davidson v. Goord, 259 F. Supp. 2d 238 (W.D.N.Y. 2003) [See also the federal magistrate's earlier decision and recommendations, reported as Davidson v. Goord, 259 F. Supp. 2d 236 (W.D.N.Y. 2002)] [N/R]
Prisoner had no constitutional right of access to probate court which was violated by prison officials' alleged actions in not allowing him to retrieve legal papers from his locker before he was transported to the court for personal business there. His protected constitutional right of access to the courts only extended to direct appeals or habeas corpus applications in criminal cases and civil rights claims. Plaintiff prisoner also failed to show that a warden's decision to transfer him was retaliatory for his letter of complaint over the incident, rather than, as asserted, based on concern for his safety after he was assaulted by other prisoners. Lewis v. Randle, No. 02-4297, 66 Fed. Appx. 560 (6th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner's right of access to the courts was not violated by the failure to photocopy 1,800 pages of documents in support of his petition for post-conviction relief when he suffered no detriment based on the failure to attach the voluminous documentation. He was previously informed that the petition would be accepted without the attachments and the court actually reviewed the documents and found them to be mostly inadmissible and duplicative of other court records, and ultimately dismissed the petition on other grounds. Drennon v. Hales, No. 27926, 70 P.2d 688 (Idaho App. 2003). [N/R]
Florida court declines to adopt a "reverse mail box" rule under which the time deadlines for a prisoner to file court documents would begin to run from the time a document was actually delivered to a prisoner by prison officials. Ashley v. State of Florida, 845 So. 2d 1008 (Fla. App. 5th Dist. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner asserting that prison officials interfered with his access to the courts and retaliated against him for filing lawsuits must identify, in response to interrogatories, what lawsuits he is referring to, when his complaint and its exhibits were "devoid" of such information. Davidson v. Goord, 215 F.R.D. 73 (W.D.N.Y. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner who filed state law medical malpractice claim against prison doctor who allegedly ordered him to return to heavy work despite a back injury was not entitled to appointed lawyer. If inmate's case had merit, court reasons, he should be able to find a lawyer to take it on a contingency fee agreement, despite his indigency. The mere fact that the claim was against an employee of a prison in which he was incarcerated was not an "exceptional circumstance" requiring the appointment of counsel. Gibson v. Tolbert, #02-0190, 102 S.W.2d 710 (Tex. 2003).[N/R]
Opening of incoming letter, marked "legal papers", but suspected of not being from an attorney, outside of the prisoner's presence, and inspection of it for contraband, which resulted in the finding of marijuana, did not violate the prisoner's Sixth Amendment right to counsel or his due process rights, even if it did violate a state administrative code section. State of Wisconsin v. Steffes, No. 02-1300-CR, 659 N.W.2d 445 (Wis. App. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner's allegations that correctional officials denied him access to the law library, filed false disciplinary charges against him, and arranged to transfer him in retaliation for his actions in filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against them adequately stated a claim for denial of access to the courts. Federal appeals court notes that Defendant officials did not respond to these claims, and that the prisoner claimed to have been denied access even to the applicable rules on summary judgment before his other claims were rejected on the Defendants' summary judgment motion. Goodman v. Smith, No. 02-6313, 58 Fed. Appx. 36 (4th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Jul]
Prisoner did not assert a valid federal civil rights claim for denial of access to the courts since he failed to allege that the conduct he complained of prevented him from pursuing any non-frivolous legal claim challenging his conditions of confinement or his conviction. Ruiz v. Bouchard, #02-1962, 60 Fed. Appx. 572 (6th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Sheriff's refusal to transport a pretrial detainee to the courthouse for a civil personal injury case unrelated to his criminal case did not violate his right of access to the courts. Sheriff's action was not taken for a punitive purpose and had a rational relationship to a legitimate interest in keeping detainees in jail unless absolutely necessary. Simmons v. Sacramento County Superior Court, No. 01-16309, 318 F.3d 1156 (9th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Jun]
Michigan prison inmates did not have a constitutional right to continue to have their legal counsel in a class action lawsuit against prison officials, Prison Legal Services of Michigan, housed in offices in trailers on prison grounds. Prison officials had a legitimate interest in exercising its judgment over the management of the prison, including making decisions about the number of auxiliary trailers it could safely deploy on the premises. Cain v. Department of Corrections, No. 239116, 657 N.W.2d 799 (Mich. App. 2002). [N/R]
Prisoner's rights were not violated by the withdrawal of all funds from his inmate trust account when all withdrawals were pursuant to court orders to pay debts he incurred filing multiple legal actions. Withdrawal of funds did not interfere with his access to the courts, nor did it make him a "slave," as he subsequently demonstrated by quitting his job and remaining confined to his cell during working hours. Erdman v. Martin, No. 02-1302, 52 Fed. Appx. 801 (6th Cir. 2002). [2003 JB May]
Prison "mailbox" rule applied to prisoner's federal civil rights complaint concerning his alleged assault in a county jail, so that it was considered filed in a timely manner when it was placed in the prison mail system on the last day of the statute of limitations, despite the fact that it was not received by the federal trial court until five days after the statute of limitations expired. Sulik v. Taney County, Missouri, No. 02-1397 316 F.3d 813 (8th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner failed to state a claim against the Michigan Dept. of Corrections Director for interference with his right of access to the courts or for the loss of his property, when he failed to show that the director had any direct involvement in these alleged deprivations. The defendant's "supervisory capacity does not make him liable for the alleged deprivations by an unspecified prison official." Sarr v. Martin, #02-1639, 53 Fed. Appx. 760 (6th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Prisoners' claims that they lost legal materials and documents when prison's policy on use of memory and disk-based word processors and computers changed could be the basis for a lawsuit for interference with the right of access to the courts. Waff v. South Dakota Dept. of Corrections, #01-3501, 51 Fed. Appx. 615 (8th Cir. 2002). [2003 JB Mar.]
County sheriff and other jail personnel, in allegedly interfering with a detainee's ability to exhaust administrative remedies on his grievances, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act before proceeding with a federal civil rights lawsuit, might be subject to liability for interfering with the detainee's constitutional right of access to the courts on several claims which were non-frivolous. Complete absence of legal materials at jail prevented detainee of learning of exhaustion requirement or attempting to comply with it, and plaintiff was told his complaints were not subject to grievance procedure. Davis v. Milwaukee County, 225 F. Supp. 2d 967 (E.D. Wis. 2002). [2003 JB Mar.]
Prisoner convicted of being an inmate in possession of a weapon and other charges was not denied the right to a public trial because the trial was held at the correctional institution. Facility constructed a courtroom in its visiting area which allowed members of the public to view the proceedings through windows opening onto the courtroom, giving visitors full audio and visual access to the proceedings. State of Oregon v. Cavan, 59 P.2d 553 (Or. App. 2002). [N/R]
A jail employee's alleged accidental opening of pretrial detainee's legal mail outside of his presence was insufficient to constitute a violation of his First Amendment rights. Appeals court also finds no violation of First Amendment rights in actions preventing detainee from sealing his outgoing personal mail because of jail policy of inspecting such mail for security risks. Beese v. Liebe, #02-1401, 51 Fed. Appx. 979 (7th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Iowa prisoners found to have adequately shown that prison policy barring their communications with other inmates serving as "jailhouse lawyers" resulted in actual injury to their pending post-conviction proceedings as required for purposes of First Amendment claim of denial of right of access to the courts. Bear v. Kautzky, #01-3462, 305 F.3d 802 (8th Cir. 2002). [2003 JB Jan]
Prison officials' actions in allegedly opening prisoner's legal mail outside of his presence, failing to forward legal filing fees, and requiring prisoner to surrender his word processor did not deny the prisoner his constitutionally guaranteed right of access to the courts when he failed to show that prejudice resulted to a non-frivolous claim. Baker v. Wells, No. 01-2532, 39 Fed. Appx. 150 (6th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Trial court abused its discretion in refusing to appoint a lawyer to represent an inmate who had a claim of arguable merit concerning the adequacy of his medical treatment for HIV and heart conditions and where "numerous technical rulings" against plaintiff showed that he had "significant difficulty" in advancing his case in the absence of legal representation. Montgomery v. Pinchak, No. 99-5081, 294 F.3d 492 (3rd Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Dismissal of prisoner's claim that prison library was inadequate and violative of his right of access to the courts as frivolous was proper when the prisoner had no right to pursue state tort claims or medical malpractice claims as federal civil rights lawsuits as he sought to do, and when one of his other federal civil rights claims was dismissed as frivolous. The sole remaining lawsuit which was the basis for his claim suffered no prejudice. Thomas v. Rochell, #02-5189, 47 Fed. Appx. 315 (6th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Prisoner could not pursue his claim against prison official for alleged interference with his legal mail when he failed to show any actual injury to his right of access to the courts. Clemons v. Woods, No. 01-2284, 40 Fed. Appx. 23 (6th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Prison officials' alleged actions of opening prisoner's legal mail outside his presence, failing to forward legal filing fees, and requiring prisoner to surrender his word processor did not deny him access to the courts since he did not show that it resulted in prejudice to a non-frivolous legal claim. Baker v. Wells, No. 01-2532, 39 Fed. Appx. 150 (6th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Because all of prison guards who allegedly "conspired" to seize prisoners' legal materials to interfere with their access to the courts worked for the same entity, no federal civil rights conspiracy claim could be pursued; appeals court also finds that two prisoners failed to show that the alleged seizure of their papers caused "actual injury" to their pending cases, while ordering further proceedings on a third plaintiff prisoner's claims. Beese v. Todd, #01-3951, 35 Fed. Appx. 241 (7th Cir. 2002). [2002 JB Oct]
Inmate sufficiently pleaded facts to support his claim that officials retaliated against him by imposing disciplinary sanctions for his "jailhouse lawyering" activities when defendants did not assert whether the prisoner had actually committed prison rule violations which would defeat the retaliation claim. Williams v. Manternach, 192 F. Supp. 2d 980 (N.D. Iowa 2002). [2002 JB Jul]
Prisoner did not show that correctional facility's institutional inspector violated his right to access to the courts by refusing to issue him grievance forms which he could use to challenge his conditions of confinement when prisoner did not claim that there was no other source for the forms or that he had made other attempts to pursue his grievance. Watley v. Goodman, #01-3860, 31 Fed. Appx. 169 (6th Cir. 2002). [2002 JB Jul]
Prisoner adequately alleged that restrictions on his access to a prison law library violated his right of access to the courts when he claimed that the small amount of library time he was allowed resulted in the dismissal of his appeal from denial of motion for post-conviction relief as untimely. Colvin v. Schaublin, #01-3038, 31 Fed. Appx. 170 (6th Cir. 2002). [2002 JB Jul]
Prisoner acting as a "jailhouse lawyer" for other prisoners by assisting them with their legal work did not assert a valid claim for right of access to the courts absent a showing that these other prisoners were denied court access. "Prison officials may prohibit or limit jailhouse lawyering unless doing so interferes with an inmate's ability to present his grievances to a court," and a "jailhouse lawyer's right to assist another prisoner is wholly derivative of that prisoner's right of access to the courts." Ziegler v. McGinnis, #01-1492, 32 Fed. Appx. 697 (6th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Civil rights lawsuit filed by prisoner acting as his own lawyer should be regarded as received, for purposes of the statute of limitations, when it was delivered by him to prison officials rather than when it was finally received by the court; the statute of limitations might also be tolled, appeals court finds, while prisoner waited to received court documents that he needed to prepare his complaint, so that he would be in the same position as a nonincarcerated litigant or one with a lawyer. Walker v. Jastremski, #97-2721, 274 F.3d 652 (2nd Cir. 2001). [2002 JB May]
Pretrial detainees who challenged city jail regulations they claimed had an adverse impact on their Sixth Amendment right to counsel by impeding attorney visits did not have to show an "actual injury" in order to be entitled to injunctive relief. While prisoners must show such actual injuries when complaining about allegedly inadequate law libraries or legal assistance programs, there is no independent constitutional right to access to them, as opposed to access to attorneys. Benjamin v. Fraser, #00-9093, 264 F.3d 175 (2nd Cir. 2001). [2002 JB Apr]
Texas statute requiring indigent prisoners to file an affidavit listing the prior lawsuits they have filed and their disposition, or else face dismissal of their lawsuit as frivolous or malicious, did not violate prisoner's rights under the U.S. or Texas constitution. Plaintiff whose lawsuit was dismissed for failure to file required affidavit was the "veritable poster child" for the rational basis of the statute, court comments, with over 175 prior lawsuits and 16 prior published appellate decisions in which he was the appellant. the claims asserted have already been litigated. Thomas v. Bilby, No. 06-00-00113-CV, 40 S.W.3d 166 (Tex. App. 2001). [2002 JB Mar]
299:172 Prisoner who lost good-time credits when he tested positive for drug use could not pursue claim that officer asked him to take the test in retaliation for filing a grievance against her unless the disciplinary determination was first set aside; prisoner could, however, pursue claims of retaliation concerning the filing of allegedly false disciplinary complaints against him or his transfer in alleged retaliation for questioning an officer's authority to deny him legal assistance. Farver v. Schwartz, No. 00-3729EA, 255 F.3d 473 (8th Cir. 2001).
299:165 Prisoner could pursue claim that his access to the courts had been violated when documents he needed to attack his criminal conviction, mailed to him by his mother, were returned, partially destroyed, to her after delivery to the prison, but could not pursue federal due process claim when New York state offered an adequate post-deprivation remedy. Jackson v. Burke, No. 00-0088, 256 F.3d 93 (2nd Cir. 2001).
294:83 U.S. Supreme Court rules that prisoners do not have a special First Amendment right to provide legal assistance to fellow inmates. Shaw v. Murphy, No. 99-1613, 121 S. Ct. 1475 (2001).
293:72 Oregon prison rule prohibiting prisoners from receiving non-profit organization's newsletter about "prison legal news" because it was sent as bulk "standard rate" mail violated the First Amendment rights of both prisoners and the publisher of the newsletter. Prison Legal News v. Cook, No. 99-36084, 238 F.3d 1145 (9th Cir. 2001).
292:56 UPDATE: Prison officials adequately showed that there were legitimate security concerns about a prisoner's attempt to form an inmate "legal defense center"; no injunction requiring permitting the group on First Amendment grounds was justified. Nicholas v. Miller, 109 F. Supp. 2d 152 (S.D.N.Y. 2000).
292:51 Federal appeals court orders substitution of ACLU National Prison Project attorneys for appointed lawyer for class of HIV-positive inmates in Mississippi jails; order that previously provided that ACLU attorneys could not contact class members violated constitutional restrictions on free speech, association, and right to counsel. Gates v. Cook, #99-60609, 234 F.3d 221 (5th Cir. 2000).
290:27 There was probable cause for a warrant to search prisoner's jail cell based on his alleged statements to a cellmate regarding plans to take retaliatory reprisals against his inlaws; defendant officials were entitled to qualified immunity on alleged seizure and reading of a letter from prisoner to attorney. Barstow v. Kennebec County Jail, 115 F. Supp. 2d 3 (D. Me. 2000).
[N/R] Prisoner stated a claim for retaliation by asserting that library supervisor denied him any access to the library after he filed a grievance against her for prior denial of access. Zimmerman v. Tribble, No. 98-2163, 226 F.3d 568 (7th Cir. 2000).
286:147 County sheriff was not entitled to qualified immunity from lawsuit by 52-year-old prisoner with AIDS challenging an alleged policy of shackling all hospitalized inmates hand and foot 24 hours a day despite also having an armed guard stationed at their hospital room; lawsuit stated claims for denial of access to the courts, denial of equal protection, and excessive bodily restraint of a pretrial detainee. May v. Sheahan, #99-3140, 226 F.3d 876 (7th Cir. 2000).
287:163 U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether prisoners have an independent constitutional right under the First Amendment to help fellow prisoners with legal assistance even if the state provides other forms of legal assistance to inmates. Murphy v. Shaw, No. 97-35989, 195 F.3d 1121 (9th Cir. 1999), cert. granted, Shaw v. Murphy, No. 99-1613, 121 S. Ct. 27 (2000).
282:83 Prisoner's conduct in pursuing frivolous legal claims was not protected conduct for which he could pursue retaliation claim in the absence of retaliatory conduct which "shocked the conscience"; prisoner could, however, pursue claim that he was retaliated against for assisting another prisoner in asserting his complaints if that assistance was necessary to enable other prisoner to do so. Herron v. Harrison, No. 98-5726, 203 F.3d 410 (6th Cir. 2000).
279:35 Prisoners in a class action lawsuit over alleged inadequate access to the courts must show "widespread actual injury" to their ability to pursue specific non-frivolous court proceedings in order to pursue their lawsuit. Hadix v. Johnson, Nos. 96-2387, 96-2397, 182 F.3d 400 (6th Cir. 1999).
278:19 Prisoner who claimed that county officials interfered with his access to state courts to challenge his criminal conviction was not entitled to damages in the absence of successful overturning of his conviction; prisoner might have been granted injunctive relief against alleged interference with his access, but not the order he sought compelling the state courts to take particular actions in his case. Hoard v. Reddy, #98-2624, 175 F.3d 531 (7th Cir. 1999).
278:19 End of twenty-year policy allowing prisoners to have typewriters and word processors did not violate inmate rights; access to pen and paper was adequate for access to the courts. Roberts v. Cohn, 63 F. Supp. 2d 921 (N.D. Ind. 1999).
280:51 Disciplining inmate law clerk for writing letter to another prisoner containing legal advice violated law clerk's First Amendment rights. Murphy v. Shaw, No. 97- 35989, 195 F.3d 1121 (9th Cir. 1999).
280:54 Changing the amount of property, including both hobby materials and legal materials, which prisoners could keep in their cells did not violate prisoners' due process or equal protection rights; appeals court also finds no violation of the right of access to the courts. Cosco v. Uphoff, #99-8036, 195 F.3d 1221 (10th Cir. 1999).
283:102 Prisoner's First Amendment right of association created an arguable claim to form a prisoners' "legal defense center," and trial court should not have granted prison officials who denied this request summary judgment without engaging in a detailed analysis of the functions that this group would have. Nicholas v. Miller, #98-2768, 189 F.3d 191 (2nd Cir. 1999).
283:104 Georgia prisoner could not pursue a civil lawsuit against county sheriff seeking return of unidentified property when it had already been determined, in his criminal proceeding, that no such property was being held; trial court's order barring all future civil filings by prisoner as frivolous, however, went too far and violated his right of access to the courts. Hooper v. Harris, 512 S.E.2d 312 (Ga. App. 1999).
[N/R] Prisoner who assisted litigating inmate in filing a lawsuit was engaged in "protected conduct" for purposes of a retaliation claim. Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, No. 95-1837, 175 F.3d 378 (6th Cir. 1999).
[N/R] Limiting prisoner to five hours of law library time a week did not violate his constitutional right of access to the courts. Jones v. Greninger, No. 98-11041, 188 F.3d 322 (5th Cir. 1999).
273:133 Prison officials' alleged failure to accept inmate's outgoing legal mail could not possibly have caused the dismissal of two of his civil lawsuits and one appeal, when one of the suits was already dismissed at the time, and the other lawsuit and the appeal were not even filed until after the alleged incident; court costs properly imposed against prisoner. Talley-Bey v. Knebl, #97-1208, #97-1849, 168 F.3d 884 (6th Cir. 1999).
274:148 Prisoner's rights of access to the courts and to receive mail were not violated when prison allegedly opened outside his presence a communication from the state's Attorney General which was not clearly marked confidential on the envelope. Boswell v. Mayer, #97-1710, 169 F.3d 384 (6th Cir. 1999).
» Editor's Note: See also Geder v. Godinez, 8 F.Supp.2d 1078 (N.D. Ill. 1998), rejecting claims by an Illinois prisoner that the unauthorized opening of his legal mail and alleged failure to deliver certain mail violated his right of access to the courts.
269:73 Illinois prisoner was not entitled to access to a copy of Department of Correction's administrative directives; revealing such directives could pose a danger to institutional safety and security. Romero v. O'Sullivan, 707 N.E.2d 986 (Ill. App. 1999).
265:3 Federal appeals court rules that trial court should satisfy itself that appointed lawyer for prisoner in civil rights lawsuit was "on the job" before dismissing lawsuit without notice to prisoner; appointed lawyer did little and "might as well have been a potted plant." Dunphy v. McKee, #96-2266, 134 F.3d 1297 (7th Cir. 1998).
266:19 Rule making one prisoner's legal documents "contraband" when found in the possession of another inmate without prior authorization did not violate right of access to the courts; prisoners could not pursue claim in the absence of a showing of actual hindrance to their pursuit of their legal cases. Bass v. Singletary, #963095, 143 F.3d 1442 (11th Cir. 1998).
267:35 West Virginia Supreme Court upholds state policy barring prison inmates from possessing computers in their cells; prior practice allowing such possession did not create any vested right to continue to possess them, and deprivation of computer possession did not result in denial of meaningful access to the courts. West Virginia, State of, Ex Rel. Anstey v. Davis, 509 S.E.2d 579 (W. Va. 1998).
267:37 Federal appeals court rules that prisoner on death row, convicted of murdering police officer, was entitled to injunction against enforcement of rule prohibiting him from carrying on "business or profession" of writing articles and books; prison allowed another inmate to publish and promote a novel, and did not show that plaintiff prisoner's writings burdened prison resources or threatened security; special scrutiny to prisoner's legal correspondence was improper. Abu-Jamal v. Price, # 96-3756, 154 F.3d 128 (3rd Cir. 1998).
267:44 Update: appeals court, acting en banc, overturns panel decision that rule prohibiting prisoners from threatening prison employees with legal redress during confrontations was facially invalid under the First Amendment; prisoner could not facially challenge rule when his disciplinary conviction for violation of the rule had not been set aside. Clarke v. Stalder, #96-30313, 154 F.3d 186 (5th Cir. 1998).
271:99 Prisoner could not pursue lawsuit claiming that correctional law library was inadequate when he had not shown a past or present interference with his ability to litigate his cases, and he did not show that the nature of his pending cases concerned subject matter on which he was constitutionally entitled to assistance while incarcerated. Bausch v. Cox, 32 F.Supp.2d 1057 (E.D. Wis. 1998).
[N/R] Prisoners named plaintiffs in class action lawsuit over alleged denial of constitutional right of access to the courts lacked standing to assert the claim, as conditions they complained of did not affect their ability to litigate their claims. Walters v. Edgar, #97-2722, 163 F.3d 430 (7th Cir. 1998).
[N/R] Appeals court upholds jury verdict for correctional employee in lawsuit by prisoner asserting that law library access was denied in retaliation for a lawsuit plaintiff helped file against the mail room supervisor; while prisoner did not waive right to a jury trial, failure to give him one on his federal civil rights claim was harmless when the result, based on the evidence, could not have been different. McDonald v. Steward, #96-40088, 132 F.3d 225 (5th Cir. 1998).
253:6 Inadvertent opening of legal mail outside of prisoner's presence did not establish a constitutional violation; no interference with right of access to courts when no prejudice to a pending legal action was shown. Gardner v. Howard, 109 F.3d 427 (8th Cir. 1997).
253:14 Female prisoners could not base a Title IX claim of sex discrimination in educational programs on a comparison of programs at one male prison; claim failed in absence of a comparison of male and female educational programs in entire state prison system. Klinger v. Dept. of Corrections, 107 F.3d 609 (8th Cir. 1997).
255:38 Parole officials can properly consider a prisoner's frivolous litigation activity in making parole decisions, as there is no protected right to engage in frivolous lawsuits; federal appeals court also upholds the consideration of crime victims' statements in opposition to parole for a particular prisoner. Johnson v. Rodriguez, 110 F.3d 299 (5th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 118 S.Ct. 559 (1997).
256:51 Prisoner showed no constitutional right of his right of access to the courts when he was given access to law library on 29 different occasions in a three month period, librarian copied 1,100 pages of material for him in one month, and he managed to file over 40 lawsuits in a five year period; no "actual injury" shown from limits on access to library. Ladd v. Hannigan, 962 F.Supp. 1390 (D. Kan. 1997).
256:51 Opening or delaying prisoner's outgoing legal mail did not violate his constitutional right of access to the courts when no actual prejudice in any pending legal case was shown. Oliver v. Fauver, 118 F.3d 175 (3rd Cir. 1997).
259:104 Rule prohibiting prisoners from threatening prison employees with legal redress during confrontational situations was facially invalid under the First Amendment, federal appeals court panel rules; rehearing by full appeals court granted. Clarke v. Stalder, 121 F.3d 222 (5th Cir.), rehearing en banc granted, 133 F.3d 940 (5th Cir. 1997).
241:6 Refusal to treat prisoner mail to all state agencies and officials as "legal mail" was justified by prison interest in security and prevention of criminal activity, federal appeals court rules. O'Keefe v. Van Boening, 82 F.3d 322 (9th Cir. 1996).
242:19 Furnishing prisoners in segregation unit with crayons to write with instead of pens did not violate their constitutional right of access to the courts; limiting writing instruments to crayons did not completely prevent them from drafting legal documents which could be filed with court. Kirsch v. Endicott, 549 N.W.2d 761 (Wis. App. 1996).
242:21 Boxes of legal materials, originating from prisoner's attorney and clearly marked legal mail, qualified as legal mail and should have been examined in the prisoner's presence, despite the fact that they were delivered to the prison by an individual, rather than being delivered via the U.S. mail or a private delivery service such as UPS. Kensu v. Haigh, 87 F.3d 172 (6th Cir. 1996).
245:67 Policy requiring prisoners to pay for the cost of long distance calls for participation in telephonic court conferences, provided prisoners have the ability to pay, did not constitute an unconstitutional denial of the right of access to the courts. Shannon v. Singletary, 678 So.2d 466 (Fla. App. 1996).
247:100 Prison employee entitled to qualified immunity for denying prisoner loan for postage for outgoing legal mail unless he agreed to allow her to briefly inspect it in his presence to make sure it qualified as legal mail. Bell-Bey v. Williams,87 F.3d 832 (6th Cir. 1996).
248:115 New correctional policy denying inmates possession of typewriters did not violate the right of access to the courts. Wenzler v. Warden of G.R.C.C., 949 F.Supp. 399 (E.D.Va. 1996).
251:163 Prisoner who did not show how alleged inadequacies in provided attorney or lack of law library prejudiced her in a particular legal case could not bring lawsuit for denial of right of access to courts, either on her own behalf, or as a class action. Sabers v. Delano, 100 F.3d 82 (8th Cir. 1996).
251:173 Criminal defense attorney did not have to remove his prosthetic leg for inspection before being allowed a contact visit with his inmate client. Roark, In Re, 48 Cal.App. 4th 1946, 1996 Cal.App. Lexis 853.
[N/R] Claim of denial of access to courts that did not claim that any prejudice resulted was properly dismissed. Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413 (6th Cir. 1996).
233:77 Transferring a prisoner, in part to give prison staff a respite from his many grievances, did not violate his First Amendment rights; prison officials entitled to qualified immunity in prisoner's civil rights lawsuit over transfer. Ward v. Dyke, 58 F.3d 271 (6th Cir. 1995).
231:41 Disciplining prisoner for expressing "disrespect" to prison guard in written grievance violated First Amendment rights, federal appeals court rules. Bradley v. Hall, 64 F.3d 1276 (9th Cir. 1995).
230:21 Federal appeals court rules that allegedly repeatedly opening prisoner's incoming court mail outside his presence would violate his constitutional rights; defendant prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity from liability. Bieregu v. Reno, 59 F.3d 1445 (3rd Cir. 1995).
237:133 Prison's failure to establish formal Braille program for blind inmates did not violate their rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act; trial court did not abuse its discretion in failing to appoint counsel for blind inmate in disability discrimination lawsuit. Smith v. Ohio Department of Rehab. & Corr., 661 N.E.2d 771 (Ohio App. 1995).
231:35 Federal appeals court rules that inmate/prison law librarian, allowed computer in his cell by prison officials, had a right to aid mentally retarded inmate in preparing legal documents; prison employees not entitled to qualified immunity for seizing legal documents from law librarian's cell and disciplining him for possessing them. Newell v. Sauser, 64 F.3d 1416 (9th Cir. 1995).
231:36 Refusal to allow prisoner to participate by telephone in custody hearing concerning his daughter did not violate his right of access to the courts or constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Cook v. Boyd, 881 F.Supp. 171 (E.D. Pa. 1995).
232:51 Update: Prison policy prohibiting contact visits between attorneys and death-row or high-maximum security prisoners violated prisoners' rights when prisoners were allowed contact with "virtually all those with whom they interact" except attorneys, and no explanation for singling out attorneys for the prohibition was provided. Mann v. Reynolds, 46 F.3d 1055 (10th Cir. 1995).
232:51 Prison officials' plan providing attorneys to assist prisoners in filing writs of habeas corpus and civil rights actions challenging conditions of confinement was constitutionally adequate despite only providing assistance with initial petitions; plan did not violate inmate rights by being offered in lieu of inmate law library, or in failing to provide assistance in other civil matters, such as divorce or workers' compensation. Carper v. DeLand, 54 F.3d 613 (10th Cir. 1995).
233:67 Alleged negligent conduct which resulted in dismissal of prisoner's appeal in forfeiture action could not be the basis for federal civil rights lawsuit, federal appeals court rules. Pink v. Lester, 52 F.3d 73 (4th Cir. 1995).
233:68 Intentionally withholding some of inmate's legal papers from him for a period of more than two years justified an award of $1 in nominal and $500 in punitive damages despite the fact that plaintiff inmate suffered no "actual damage" in his lawsuits as a result of the withholding. Frazier v. Forgione, 881 F.Supp. 879 (W.D.N.Y. 1995).
234:83 Federal appeals court rules that correctional officials had no constitutional duty to provide inmate with affirmative assistance in pursuing state law civil lawsuits, such as legal malpractice; inmates' access to court appointed attorney in state court postconviction proceedings was adequate, so there was no duty to provide him with related legal materials. Schrier v. Halford, 60 F.3d 1309 (8th Cir. 1995).
234:84 Federal appeals court upholds system of providing violent prisoner with only "indirect access" to law library through librarian and law clerk intermediaries. Brooks v. Buscher, 62 F.3d 176 (7th Cir. 1995).
235:99 Federal appeals court rules that Michigan state female prisoners were not constitutionally entitled to free legal assistance in child custody/family law matters. Glover v. Johnson, 75 F.3d 264 (6th Cir. 1996).
236:115 Co. jail's complete lack of law library or legally trained personnel to assist prisoners did not violate constitutional rights of prisoner confined there for brief 18 day period, in absence of any showing of prejudice to prisoner's legal claims; federal appeals court also upholds correctional officials' inspection of prisoner's outgoing non-legal mail. Beville v. Ednie, 74 F.3d 210 (10th Cir. 1996). [Cross-reference: Mail].
236:115 Including a "must not become litigious" clause in a transfer agreement to be signed by a federal prisoner being transferred to a state facility did not unconstitutionally "chill" his right of access to the courts; federal appeals court rules that clause was intended to target "frivolous" litigation. Sterling v. Wood, 68 F.3d 1124 (8th Cir. 1995).
237:131 Questioning whether inmate had any constitutional right of access to courts to seek purely discretionary review, federal trial judge finds that law library access of approximately ten hours to work on petition for such review was adequate, since prisoner could copy cases and work on it at his leisure. Blaylock v. Painter, 901 F.Supp. 233 (W.D. Tex. 1995).
238:151 U.S. Supreme Court overturns detailed injunctive order requiring system-wide changes in Arizona prison law library and legal assistance programs; Court sets forth rule that prisoners have no "abstract" right to law libraries, but rather to access to courts; relief granted by courts must be limited to instances where "actual injury" is shown; prison law libraries and legal assistance programs are not constitutionally required to provide inmates with ability to litigate "any" kind of legal claim, but only those related to challenging their sentences or conditions of confinement; courts must show "deference" to prison regulations which impinge on right of access to courts, even if actual injury is shown, if "reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." Lewis v. Casey, 116 S.Ct. 2174 (1996).
227:163 U.S. Supreme Court grants review of 9th Circuit appeals court decision on adequacy of Arizona Department of Corrections' programs providing inmates access to legal resources; federal appeals court ruled that law libraries were inadequate, that bilingual legal assistants had to be provided, that libraries were inadequately staffed, and that photocopying policy and attorney phone call policy violated inmate rights. Casey v. Lewis, 43 F.3d 1261 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. granted sub nom. Lewis v. Casey, 115 S.Ct. 1997 (1995).
217:3 Prison directive forbidding prisoner from possessing a typewriter with a memory beyond a specified capacity did not violate his right of access to the courts or his First Amendment rights. Taylor v. Coughlin, 29 F.3d 39 (2nd Cir. 1994).
218:19 Prisoner did not state viable claim against prison officials for denial of access to the courts based on refusal to give him personal physical access to the law library while in segregation. Vandelft v. Moses, 31 F.3d 794 (9th Cir. 1994).
218:20 Indigent inmates could not be denied all free postage for legal mail, federal appeals court rules, but had no constitutional right to such postage for personal mail. Hershberger v. Scaletta, 33 F.3d 955 (8th Cir. 1994).
219:35 Barring prisoner from acting as a "jailhouse lawyer" and seizing his typewriter was justified when he had filed a flood of lawsuits, most of them either frivolous or non- meritorious, and he had engaged in perjury, falsification of evidence, and breaking of institutional rules barring payment for providing legal services. Wiideman v. Angelone, 848 F.Supp. 136 (D. Nev. 1994).
219:39 Policy of opening, outside of the prisoner's presence, and reading incoming and outgoing "grievance" letters to and from governmental agencies violated prisoner's First Amendment right to petition government for redress of grievances. O'Keefe v. Murphy, 860 F.Supp. 748 (E.D. Wash. 1994).
219:39 Prison policy of treating letters from state Attorney General's Office to inmates as ordinary, rather than confidential legal, mail violated prisoner's First Amendment rights. Muhammad v. Pitcher, 35 F.3d 1081 (6th Cir. 1994).
220:51 Prison rule prohibiting contact visit between maximum security prisoner and attorney did not violate prisoner's right of access to the courts; rules adequately provided for conversation between prisoner and attorney and prisoner's access to documents during such conversations. Mitchell v. Dixon, 862 F.Supp. 95 (E.D.N.C. 1994).
221:67 Correctional officer was not entitled to qualified immunity for allegedly forcing prisoner in disciplinary segregation to choose between use of the law library and outdoor exercise when library and recreation area's schedules conflicted; federal appeals court rules that right of access to courts and right to exercise were both clearly established. Allen v. City & Co. of Honolulu, 39 F.3d 936 (9th Cir. 1994).
221:67 Inmate's lawsuit did not need to show anything more than officer's alleged filing of false disciplinary charges against him in retaliation for his grievance against officer to state claim for officer's violation of his First Amendment right of petition; fact that inmate was not convicted of or punished for disciplinary charge did not alter result. Dixon v. Brown, 38 F.3d 379 (8th Cir. 1994).
222:83 Prisoner allowed access to law library 103 times in approximately a two month period and furnished with 4,119 free photocopies was not denied meaningful access to the courts; fact that prisoner allegedly was forced to choose between paying for legal postage and purchasing toiletries he desired was not a violation of his rights. Eason v. Nicholas, 847 F.Supp. 109 (C.D. Ill. 1994).
222:84 While prisoner's suit appeared to be of "arguable merit," court declines to appoint free legal counsel when there were no "special circumstances" shown demonstrating the prisoner's need for such help. Hill v. Davidson, 844 F.Supp. 237 (E.D. Pa. 1994). » Editor's Note: For another recent case reaching a similar result, see Mastromatteo v. Simock, 849 F.Supp. 25 (E.D. Pa. 1994) (prisoner did not show special circumstances justifying an appointment of free legal counsel in his suit against officer).
223:99 Prisoners stated an arguable federal civil rights claim by complaining that they were not furnished with "proper ink pens" to write legal documents, and that prior hand injuries they had suffered made it difficult for them to write with provided "ink tubes." Kirsch v. Smith, 853 F.Supp. 301 (E.D. Wis. 1994).
224:115 Federal appeals court reinstates suit by former county jail inmate alleging that he was provided with no access to any legal resources during a six-month period. Housley v. C.D. Dodson, 41 F.3d 597 (10th Cir. 1994)
224:115 Prisoner had no constitutional right to use and possession of typewriter; he suffered no harm from its confiscation, despite presence of a legal document he had been writing in the typewriter's memory, when he was allowed to contact his outside attorney who then filed a document on his behalf with the court. Howard v. Leonardo, 845 F.Supp. 943 (N.D.N.Y. 1994).
224:124 Officials at privately run detention facility did not act "under color of state law," and pre-trial detainee's right of access to courts was not violated by refusal to allow him to use law library when he was represented by counsel in his criminal trial. Lloyd v. Corrections Corporation of America, 855 F.Supp. 221 (W.D. Tenn. 1994).
225:139 Federal appeals court rules that trial court did not have authority to order state prison officials to transport prisoner 200 miles away for medical examination needed as evidence in federal civil rights suit against county jail facility. Ivey v. Harney 47 F.3d 181 (7th Cir. 1995).
227:163 U.S. Supreme Court grants review of 9th Circuit appeals court decision on adequacy of Arizona Department of Corrections' programs providing inmates access to legal resources; federal appeals court ruled that law libraries were inadequate, that bilingual legal assistants had to be provided, that libraries were inadequately staffed, and that photocopying policy and attorney phone call policy violated inmate rights. Casey v. Lewis, 43 F.3d 1261 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. granted sub nom. Lewis v. Casey, 115 S.Ct. 1997 (1995).
Prisoner who was "jailhouse lawyer" could amend complaint to state constitutional claim of denial of access to courts based on refusal of prison officials to transfer him out of segregation at end of 30-day period in alleged retaliation for his assistance to other prisoners, including claim that there were, at his facility no reasonable alternatives to his assistance which ensured other inmates' access to courts. Gibbs v. Hopkins, 10 F.3d 373 (6th Cir. 1993).
Prisoner's claim that correctional officials retaliated against him for his writ-writing activities should not have been dismissed as frivolous. Gartrell v. Gaylor, 981 F.2d 254 (5th Cir. 1993).
Constitutional obligation of jail officials to provide inmates with meaningful access to the courts was clearly established law. Casteel v. Pieschek, 3 F.3d 1050 (7th Cir. 1993).
"Jailhouse lawyer" who was suspended from law library job and disciplined after he served a summons for another prisoner on a prison staff member stated a claim for violation of his First Amendment right to assist in litigation. Schroeder v. Mabellos, 823 F.Supp. 806 (D.Hawaii 1993).
Female inmates in Michigan correctional facilities were entitled to legal assistance in parental rights matters; provision of law libraries and inmate paralegals was inadequate. Glover v. Johnson, 850 F.Supp. 592 (E.D. Mich. 1994).
Federal appeals court overturns money damages award, attorneys' fee award, and injunction protecting "jailhouse lawyer" against restraints on his providing legal help to other prisoners; he could properly be prevented from practicing "jailhouse law" for violating prison barter rules when he charged a fee for his services. Williams v. Nix, 1 F.3d 712 (8th Cir. 1993).
Federal appeals court rules that civil rights complaints filed by prisoners acting without attorneys will be considered filed when given to prison authorities for forwarding to a court, rather than when received by the court. Garvey v. Vaughn, 993 F.2d 776 (11th Cir. 1993). » Editor's Note: A similar rule was adopted by another federal appeals court in Lewis v. Richmond City Police Dept., 947 F.2d 733 (4th Cir. 1991) (per curiam).
Oklahoma prison's failure to supply inmate with legal materials to attack prior convictions in other states violated prisoner's right of access to the courts when prior convictions had been used to enhance his present sentence. Petrick v. Maynard, 11 F.3d 991 (10th Cir. 1993).
Policy prohibiting prisoners in high security facilities from having contact visits with their attorneys did not violate prisoners' constitutional rights. Casey v. Lewis, 4 F.3d 1516 (9th Cir. 1993). Death row inmates could be restricted from full contact visits with attorneys, so long as a procedure for granting exceptions when necessary was in place. Mann v. Reynolds, 828 F.Supp. 894 (W.D. Ok. 1993).
Paralegal, allowed contact visits with prisoners before the organization she worked for filed a lawsuit against county detention center, did not have her constitutional rights violated when further contact visits were barred; removal of prior special accommodation only put her in the same position as other visiting paralegals. ACLU v. Wicomico Co., Maryland, 999 F.2d 780 (4th Cir. 1993).
Prisoner's rights were not violated by prison's confiscation of unauthorized computer disks on which he had placed legal materials pertaining to his appeal; prisoner was not allowed to possess the disks or use prison computers, so prison authorities properly confiscated the disks. Bryant v. Muth, 994 F.2d 1082 (4th Cir. 1993).
County jail's claim that it furnished an adequate law library did not automatically satisfy its duty to provide meaningful access to the courts to plaintiff prisoner who could not read or speak English. Acevedo v. Forcinito, 820 F.Supp. 886 (D.N.J. 1993).
Refusal to allow an inmate to run a class to train others as paralegals did not violate constitutional right of access to courts when plaintiff prisoner was literate and had access to a well-stocked law library. Caputo v. Fauver, 800 F.Supp. 168 (D.N.J. 1992).
Ban on inmate's contact visits withhis female attorney did not violate his right to counsel or to access the courts when he was being disciplined for alleged intimate sexual activity with her during a previous visit. McMaster v. Pung, 984 F.2d 948 (8th Cir. 1993).
Officer's improper opening, reading and temporary retention of prisoner's allegedly privileged letter to his attorney did not violate his constitutional rights. Hunter v. Quinlan, 815 F.Supp. 273 (N.D. Ill. 1993).
State was not required to hire attorneys to help prepare prisoners' lawsuits; access to adequate law library and to paralegal assistance could be adequate; state's duty to aid inmate access to the courts did not include civil matters beyond attacks on criminal convictions or constitutionality of conditions of confinement. Knop v Johnson, 977 F.2d 996 (6th Cir. 1992).
Prison rule prohibiting the making of toll free telephone calls, including those to an attorney's 800 number, did not violate inmates' right of access to the courts. Aswegan v. Henry, 981 F.2d 313 (8th Cir. 1992).
Policy of barring inmates in protective custody from law library did not violate prisoner's rights when he was allowed to meet personally with inmate law clerks and have them conduct research on his behalf; prisoner failed to show any prejudice resulting from the policy. Jenkins v. lane, 977 F.2d 266 (7th Cir. 1992).
Prison law library was constitutionally adequate despite incomplete sets of case law reporters; inmate did not demonstrate that he was unable to obtain particular materials he needed. Miller v. Evans, 832 P.2d 786 (nev. 1992).
Prison provided adequate access to law library, despite occasional library closing, when plaintiff prisoners failed to show that they had suffered any delay or prejudice in any actual or contemplated litigation. Shango v. Jurich, 965 F.2d 289 (7th Cir. 1992).
Prison policy of allowing indigent inmates one free mailing per week for legal correspondence complied with constitutional standards; prison also supplied free paper and pens to inmates and allowed those needing to send further legal correspondence to carry a negative balance in their accounts. Smith v. Erickson, 961 F.2d 1387 (8th Cir. 1992).
Federal appeals court upholds orders requiring a minimum of ten hours of law library time per week, supplying of postage and supplies to indigent inmates, and a training program for inmate legal assistants. Gluth v. Kangas, 951 F.2d 1504 (9th Cir. 1991).
Prisoner in maximum security building awarded $750 compensatory and $750 punitive damages for inadequate legal resources; system allowing inmates to request five photocopied cases per week was constitutionally inadequate. Abdul-Akbar v. Watson, 775 F.Supp. 735 (D. Del. 1991).
Transfer of inmate to another facility was insufficient grounds, by itself, for terminating his authorization to provide legal assistance to two other inmates. People Ex Rel. Hicks v. James, 571 N.Y.S.2d 367 (Sup. 1991).
Inmate was not denied "meaningful access to courts" when prison counselor refused to mail a notice of appeal for him and deduct the cost of postage from his inmate account after he ran out of stamps. Chilton v. Atwood, 769 F.Supp. 267 (M.D. Tenn. 1991).
Prisoner who was not denied all access to legal materials could not recover damages in the absence of a showing of actual injury resulting from restrictions on his access. Sowell v. Vose, 941 F.2d 32 (1st Cir. 1991).
Policy restricting the amount of legal materials an inmate could keep in his cell, while an "inconvenience" to the prisoner, did not violate his right of access to the courts. Cooper v. Corderman, 809 S.W.2d 11 (Mo. App. 1991).
Inmate who was represented by counsel during his incarceration was not deprived of meaningful access to the courts regardless of the alleged inadequacy of a jail's law library or the restrictions on his use of it. Maillett v. Phinney, 755 F.Supp. 463 (D. Me. 1991).
Inmates in prison with law librarian and law clerks had no right to "jailhouse lawyer." Gallipeau v. Berard, 734 F.Supp. 48 (D.R.I. 1990).
Limits on free postage for inmates did not violate right of access to the courts. Chandler v. Coughlin, 733 F.Supp. 641 (S.D. N.Y. 1990).
Prisoner's right of access to courts includes "contact visits" with lawyer; "arbitrary" policy of denying such visits abridged prisoner's rights. Ching v. Lewis, 895 F.2d 608 (9th Cir. 1990).
Inmate's allegation that prison staff accepted delivery of legal papers and then lost them stated constitutional claim. Gregory v. Nunn, 895 F.2d 413 (7th Cir. 1990).
Alleged policy of not supplying indigent inmates with free postage and stationary stated claim for denial of access to courts. Smith v. Erickson, 884 F.2d 1108 (8th Cir. 1989).
Ten day ban on use of library by inmates in disciplinary detention was unconstitutional. Coleman v. State, 762 P.2d 814 (Idaho, 1987).
Prisoner denied opportunity to do legal research for twenty days while in isolation cell did not state constitutional claim when no prejudice to his case occurred. Kness v. Sondalle, 725 F.Supp. 1006 (E.D. Wis. 1989).
Federal appeals court upholds prison preventing inmate from leaving death row for visit with attorney because he refused to shave. Dolomon v. Zant, 888 F.2d 1579 (11th Cir. 1989).
State prisoner incarcerated in federal facility in another state was not deprived of adequate access to courts. Blake v. Berman, 877 F.2d 145 (1st Cir. 1989).
Refusal of prison to allow inmate to keep memory typewriter and carbon paper in cell did not violate his right of access to courts. Sands v. Lewis, 878 F.2d 1188 (9th Cir. 1989).
Death-sentenced inmate's right of access to courts was satisfied by system which did not include appointment of counsel for filing petitions for post-conviction relief. Murray v. Giarratano, 109 S.Ct. 2765 (1989).
Court to decide whether mentally ill inmates have right to judicial hearing before being given anti-psychotic medication. Washington v. Harper, 109 S.Ct. 1337 (1989).
Replacement of pay phones with collect-only phones violated inmates' right of reasonable access to counsel. In Re Grimes, 256 Cal.Rptr. 690 (Cal.App. 1989).
Refusal to allow inmate to assist prisoner in telephonic court hearing did not violate constitution; no right to representation by non-lawyer. Bonacci v. Kindt, 868 F.2d 1442 (5th Cir. 1989).
Seizure of legal materials from inmate's cell and holding of them for three days did not violate right of access to courts. Vigliotto v. Terry, 865 F.2d 1131 (9th Cir. 1989).
Death-sentenced inmate granted preliminary injunction for access to paralegal assistance and legal materials. Long v. Beyer, 676 F.Supp. 75 (D.N.J. 1988).
Law library clerks' initial refusal to notarize documents and provide stamps was no violation of civil rights when no harm resulted. Martin v. Davies, 694 F.Supp. 528 (N.D. Ill. 1988).
Prisoners' lawsuit complaining of lack of access to courts properly dismissed as frivolous after refusal to file amended complaint because of confiscation of typewriter. American Inmate Paralegal Assoc. v. Cline, 859 F.2d 59 (8th Cir. 1988).
Inmates granted preliminary injunction against disbanding of prisoner's legal assistance group. Valentine v. Beyer, 850 F.2d 951 (3d Cir. 1988).
Inmate not entitled to unlimited free mailings and free access to copier machines; provision of specific amounts for legal mail was adequate. Gittens v. Sullivan, 848 F.2d 389 (2nd Cir. 1988).
Delay in processing mail is not a constitutional violation if no legal prejudice results. Richardson v. McDonnell, 841 F.2d 120 (5th Cir. 1988).
Opening of prisoner's letter to court during shakedown did not violate right of access when based on suspicious actions. Rochon v. Maggio, 517 So.2d 213 (La. App. 1987).
Prisoner not entitled to appointed lawyer on basis of indigency in civil rights suit which only stated "conclusions". Stewart v. McMickens, 677 F.Supp. 226 (S.D.N.Y.).
Inmate not entitled to appointed lawyer in civil rights lawsuit against correctional officers when no fundamental unfairness results. Brown v. Diaz, 361 S.E.2d 490 (Ga. App. 1987).
Attorney who was sole subject of restrictive rule could sue for first amendment violation. Sturm v. Clark, 835 F.2d 1009 (3d Cir. 1987).
Michigan State policy on opening & inspecting legal mail held to violate inmate's rights; law library held inadequate. Knop v. Johnson, 667 F.Supp. 467 (W.D. Mich. 1987).
Inmate could not sue over alleged denial of access to law library when affidavits merely claimed that supervisor used vulgar language. Oltarzewski v. Ruggiero, 830 F.2d 136 (9th Cir. 1987).
Prisoner has no right to appear personally at a civil trial. Brewer v. Taylor, 737 S.W.2d 421 (Tex. App. 1987).
Inmate was denied access to courts when prison provided carbon paper instead of free photocopying for legal papers; postage money made available was also inadequate. Gittens v. Sullivan, 670 F.Supp. 119 (S.D.N.Y.).
Federal Court orders state to provide counsel for death row inmates for state habeas corpus relief. Giarratano v. Murray, 668 F.Supp. 511 (E.D. Va. 1986).
Prisoner who filed notice of appeal in section 1983 action on improper size paper allowed to proceed with case. Hilliard v. Scully, 667 F.Supp. 96 (S.D.N.Y. 1987).
Requiring inmates to pay a partial filing fee for their lawsuits is not unconstitutional. Lumbert v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 827 F.2d 257 (7th Cir. 1987).
Wisconsin state officials not required to provide state law materials to federal prisoner. Sahagian v. Dickey, 827 F.2d 90 (7th Cir. 1987).
Alleged destruction of legal documents did not interfere with inmate's right of access to the courts. Hikel v. King, 659 F.Supp. 337 (E.D.N.Y. 1987).
Attorney-client privilege does not apply to communications with a "jailhouse lawyer". People v. Vasquez, 237 Cal.Rptr. 366 (Cal.App. 1987).
Limited access to city jail's law library not a violation of inmate's constitutional rights. Magee v. Waters, 810 F.2d 451 (4th Cir. 1987).
Adequate law library or legal assistance must be provided even when inmate has financial resources to employ counsel. Straub v. Monge, 815 F.2d 1467 (11th Cir. 1987).
Court clerk need not accept inmate's filing unless directed by the court; inmate found to abuse legal process. Gill v. Neaves, 657 F.Supp. 1394 (W.D. Tex. 1987).
Segregated prisoners not entitled to physical access to law library. People v. Page, 505 N.E.2d 39 (Ill. App. 1987).
Parratt case no bar to claim alleging stolen legal materials; inmate has federal claim. Morello v. James, 810 F.2d 344 (2nd Cir. 1987).
Jailhouse lawyer, who conspired with inmate to kill guard has not right to give legal assistance to inmate. Gometz v. Henman, 807 F.2d 113 (7th Cir. 1986).
Untrue allegation of poverty in pro se complaint not grounds for dismissal with prejudice. Camp v. Oliver, 798 F.2d 434 (11th Cir. 1986).
"Jailhouse" writ-writing activities not constitutionally protected. Kunzelman v. Thompson, 799 F.2d 1172 (7th Cir. 1986).
Escape abandons inmate's claim that he was subjected to contagious disease. Clark v. James, 794 F.2d 595 (11th Cir. 1986).
Coinless telephones given court approval. Wooden v. Norris, 637 F.Supp. 543 (M.D. Tenn. 1986).
Notary public must be made available, despite recent ruling; other legal materials ordered. Tuggle v. Barksdale, 641 F.Supp. 34 (W.D. Tenn. 1985).
Magistrates not authorized to conduct jury trials without parties' consent. In Re Wickline, 796 F.2d 1055 (8th Cir. 1986).
Inmates lost their library jobs because of disciplinary tickets, not retaliation. Dupont v. Saunders, 800 F.2d 8 (1st Cir. 1986).
Co. settlements must be made public. Orange county Register v. Orange Co., 4th Dist. Ct. of Appeal, California, 9/25/1986, Sec. II, pg. 1.
Complaint filed when lodged with court, even though it doesn't comply with local rules. Lyons v. Goodson, 787 F.2d 411 (8th Cir. 1986).
Indigent persons imprisoned for more than three days entitled to bounds protections. Brown v. Manning, 630 F.Supp. 391 (E.D. Wash. 1985).
No appointed counsel for inmate's civil suit. Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169 (11th Cir. 1985).
Eighth circuit places burden on judges to provide pro bono work for inmates' cases. Reynolds v. Foree, 771 F.2d 1179 (Cir. 1985).
Complicated rule over notice of appeal results in dismissal of inmate's suit. Averhart v. Arrendondo, 773 F.2d 919 (7th Cir. 1985).
Inmate's ending deposition not grounds for dismissal. Salahuddin v. Harris, 782 F.2d 1127 (2nd Cir. 1986).
Appointment of counsel not required. Hines v. City of Mobile, 480 So.2d 1203 (Ala. 1985).
Violating agreement with inmate not actionable. Gordan v. Procunier, 629 F.Supp. 192 (S.D. Tex. 1985).
Limiting inmate interviews with licensed media upheld. Jersawitz v. Hanberry, 783 F.2d 1532 (11th Cir. 1986).
Prison officials sued for inadequate legal assistance to transferred inmate. Blake v. Berman, 625 F.Supp. 1523 (D. Mass. 1986).
Surviving motion to dismiss could be grounds to appoint counsel for inmate's civil claim. Slaughter v. City of Maplewood, 731 F.2d 587 (8th Cir. 1984) and Nelson v. Redfield Lithograph Printing, 728 F.2d 1003 (8th Cir. 1984).
Inmate lacks standing to challenge rule prohibiting possession of legal materials. Darring v. Kincheloe, 783 F.2d 874 (9th Cir. 1986).
Selection process for jury pool challenged. Wilson v. Uttaro, 623 F.Supp. 1158 (D.C. N.Y. 1985).
Motion to proceed in forma pauperis denied. Sanders v. City of Fort Wayne, 616 F.Supp. 467 (D.C. Ind. 1985).
Ninth circuit rules for first time jailhouse lawyers have constitutional protection. Rizzo v. San Quentin Prison Officials, California, (9th Cir. 1985); San Fran. Recorder 12/13/85.
Co. must transport prisoners to town justice; city not entitled to damages because of notice of defects. Town of Poughkeepsie v. Co. of Dutchess, 492 N.Y.S.2d 1009 (Dutchess Co., 1985).
Legal assistance program for segregated inmates unconstitutional. Walters v. Thompson, 615 F.Supp. 330 (D.C. Ill. 1985).
Inmate seeks disclosure of file to launch libel suit. Avery v. Webb, 480 N.E.2d 281 (Ind. App. 1985).
Rights to committees for inmates' civil suits decided. Craigo v. Marshall, 331 S.E.2d 510 (W.Va. 1985).
California Supreme Court leaves open the question of forced pro bono work for defending inmates in civil suits. Yarbrough v. Superior Court (Co. of Napa) 702 P.2d 583 (Cal. 1985).
Inmate has right to intervene to enforce consent decree, even though original plaintiff waived his right of action. South v. Rowe, 759 F.2d 610 (7th Cir. 1985).
Prison rule on copying privileges upheld. Adams v. Department of Corrections, 469 So.2d 164 (Fla. App. 1985).
Nominal damages should not exceed $1.00. Wiggins v. Rushen, 760 F.2d 1009 (9th Cir. 1985).
Inmates confined in temporary housing before transfer to permanent facility entitled to meaningful access to courts. Berry v. Department of Corrections, 697 P.2d 711 (Ariz. App. 1985).
Right to counsel expires after completion of complaint. Nordgren v. Milliken, 762 F.2d 851 (10th Cir. 1985).
Civil rights suit cannot be brought for inadequate counsel. Hadley v. Werner, 753 F.2d 514 (6th Cir. 1985).
Ruling denying appointed counsel for civil rights claim directly appealable. Robbins v. Maggio, 750 F.2d 405 (5th Cir. 1985).
Poor health entitles inmate to appointed counsel. McCarthy v. Weinberg, 753 F.2d 836 (10th Cir. 1985).
U.S. Supreme Court rules right to appointed counsel does not attach until judicial proceedings are begun against inmate regardless of confinement in administrative segregation. United States v. Gouveia, 104 S.Ct. 2292 (1984).
Inmates entitled to report on prison conditions. Wali v. Coughlin, 596 F.Supp. 1064, aff'd 754 F.2d 1015 (2nd Cir. 1985); (N.D. N.Y. 1984).
State officials could be liable for transferring inmates to federal prison with no state law materials. Blake v. Berman, 598 F.Supp. 1081 (D. Mass. 1984).
Two stamps a week upheld. Hoppins v. Wallace, 751 F.2d 1161 (11th Cir. 1985).
Inmate's claim dismissed for failure to pursue it. Burgs v. Sissel, 745 F.2d 526 (8th Cir. 1984).
Court grants inmate continuance in civil suit against attorney for malpractice. Smith v. Peebles, 681 S.W.2d 567 (Tenn. App. 1984).
Ban on paralegal visits to inmate sentenced to death was unconstitutional. Smith v. Coughlin, 748 F.2d 783 (2nd Cir. 1984).
Kansas Supreme Court prevents inmates from giving court representation. State Ex Rel Stephen v. O'Keefe, 686 P.2d 171 (Kan. 1984).
Inmate has no right to appear in court for civil rights suit. Pollard v. White, 738 F.2d 1124 (11th Cir. 1984).
Hours for law library established. Oliver v. Marks, 587 F.Supp. 884 (E.D. 1984).
Inmates properly denied stamps for security reasons. Kaestel v. Lockhart, 746 F.2d 1323 (8th Cir. 1984).
Mailing date does not govern limitations period. Salahuddin v. Milligan, 592 F.Supp. 660 (S.D. N.Y. 1984).
Former detainee appointed counsel in jail conditions case; guidelines for appointed counsel set forth. Armstrong v. Snyder, 103 F.R.D. 96 (E.D. Wis. 1984).
Presentence reports in prison's possession not subject to disclosure. Lindsey v. Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 736 F.2d 1462 (11th Cir. 1984).
Judge exceeded authority in ordering public deffender to represent indigent inmates from different county. Doherty v. Caisley, 470 N.E.2d 319 (Ill. 1984).
Officials ordered to provide training program for prisoner paralegals; library plan for segregated inmates detailed; and officials provide bed space for transferred inmates using library. Harrington v. Holshouser, 741 F.2d 66 (4th Cir. 1984).
Frivolous in forma pauperis actions can be dismissed before service of process. Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221 (9th Cir. 1984).
Detainees have right to vote. Murphree v. Winter, 589 F.Supp. 374 (S.D. Miss. 1984).
Leg shackles and waist chains on "close custody" inmates in library upheld. Tubwell v. Griffith, 742 F.2d 250 (5th Cir. 1984).
Officials ordered to supply legal paper based on past budget. Morgan v. Nevada Bd. of State Prison Com'rs., 593 F.Supp. 621 (D. Nev. 1984).
Court reporter could be liable for delay in giving inmate trial transcript. DeLancy v. Caldwell, 741 F.2d 1246 (10th Cir. 1984).
Pro se prisoner has no right to personally receive trial transcript. Lumbert v. Finley, 735 F.2d 239 (7th Cir. 1984).
Prisoner with money in savings account must pay filing fees and costs. Temple v. Ellerthope, 586 F.Supp. 848 (D. R.I. 1984).
Public defenders for inmates not subject to Section 1983 suits for ineffective counsel. Bruce v. Flethcer, 584 F.Supp. 5 (W.D. Mo. 1984); Tower v. Glover, 104 S.Ct. 2820 (1984).
Federal court overrided by state court that held confinement in prison tolls statute of limitations. Stephan v. Dowdle, 733 F.2d 642 (9th Cir. 1984).
Guards not entitled to jury trial. Alvarado v. Santana- Lopez, 101 F.R.D. 367 (S.D. N.Y. 1984).
Dangerous inmates entitled to satellite law library. Cepulonis v. Fair, 732 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1984).
No Section 1983 action against sheriff or television station for allegedly retaliating against plaintiff for filing lawsuit. Tyler v. Harper, 670 S.W.2d 14 (Mo. App. 1984).
Prison officials do not have to disclose records to inmate. Konigsberg v. Coughlin, 475 N.Y.S.2d 714 (Albany Co. 1984).
No liability for denying arrestee phone call due to uncertainty in law. O'Hagan v. Soto, 725 F.2d 878 (2d Cir. 1984).
Inmate sues sheriff and county for attempting to prosecute him for "jailhouse lawyer" activities. Kunzelman v. Juneau Co., #84-C-328-S (W.D. Wis. 1984).
Judge cutting back on number of suits inmate can file. Gast v. Daily, 577 F.Supp. 14 (E.D. Wis. 1984).
Jail does not have to supply law library or attorney for detainees' civil rights suits. Hawthorne v. Froelich, 575 F.Supp. 314 (D. Mont. 1983).
Inmate failed to pay filing fee in time to bring action alleging poor jail conditions. Williams v. Fulton Co. Jail, 575 F.Supp. 306 (N.D. Ill. 1983).
Prisoner has right to sue for divorce; no absolute right to personally appear or have deposition taken. Hall v. Hall, 341 N.W.2d 206 (Mich. App. 1983).
Inmate has no right to appear on TV show called "Lie Detector." Arney v. Dir., Kansas State Penit., 671 P.2d 559 (Kan. 1983).
An attorney must represent an inmate, who has no right to typewriter and therefore can not comply with court rules requiring that briefs be typewritten. Long v. State, 660 S.W.2d 912 (Ark. 1983).
Court clerk may be liable for failure to file motions submitted by inmate. Gay v. Merritt, 574 F.Supp. 105 (E.D. Pa. 1983).
When an inmate refuses to be represented by a public defender he has no alternative right to access to law library. U.S. Ex Rel. George v. Lane, 718 F.2d 226 (7th Cir. 1983).
Inmate has right to court records. Gay v. Watkins, 573 F.Supp. 706 (E.D. Pa. 1983).
Prison officials improperly delayed an inmate's access to his court records; exercise rights may also have been improperly denied. Patterson v. Mintzes, 717 F.2d 284 (6th Cir. 1983).
Jail house lawyer not entitled to a counseling area to meet with his "clients." Williams v. Higgins, 336 N.W.2d 195 (Ia. 1983).
Interprison transfer of jail house lawyer was proper. No Standing to contest impact on other inmate's, whom he was assisting, constitutional rights. Smith v. Halford, 570 F.Supp. 1187 (D. Kan. 1983).
Access to court at women's prison was inadequate. Canterino v. Wilson, 562 F.Supp. 106 (W.D. Ky. 1983).
Prisoner allowed to take legal materials when transferred. Schinzel v. Marquette Prison Warden, 333 N.W.2d 348 (Mich. App. 1983).
Prisoner had adequate assistance from counsel; denial of law library privileges was upheld. State v. Staab, 430 So.2d 55 (La. 1983).
Court decides litigation materials to be provided to inmates. Nowlin v. Scurr, 331 N.W.2d 394 (Ia. 1983).
Prisoner suspected of crime in prison entitled to attorney during prolonged period of segregation. U.S. v. Gouveia, 704 F.2d 1116 (9th Cir. 1983).
Prisoner not entitled to free photocopies of legal materials. Wanninger v. Davenport, 697 F.2d 992 (11th Cir. 1983).
Access to court is satisfied by supplying legal counsel or law books. Holt v. Pitts, 702 F.2d 639 (6th Cir. 1983).
Court orders a "satellite" law library to be established. Cepulonis v. Fair, 563 F.Supp. 659 (D.Mass. 1983).
State established inmate grievance procedures. Indigent inmate entitled to appeal to court and have copy of hearing transcript provided at no cost. Holsey v. Inmate Grievance Commission, 464 A.2d 1017 (Md. 1983).
Court orders numerous improvements in county jail-law library, overcrowding, sanitation and staffing. Inmates of Allegheny Co. Jail v. Wecht, 565 F.Supp. 1278 (W.D. Pa. 1983).
Prison's photocopy policy cannot be enjoined. Jones v. Franzen, 697 F.2d 801 (7th Cir. 1983).
Transfer O.K. even though inmate's access to court and his attorney were restricted; no additional telephone privileges are necessary. Pino v. Dalsheim, 558 F.Supp. 673 (S.D.N.Y. 1983).
Inmate-lawyer conferences were inadequate, but not enough to overturn his criminal conviction. Wright v. State, 300 S.E.2d 147 (Ga. 1983).
Inmate who refuses assistance of appointed consel has no right to alternative access to law library. U.S. ex. rel George v. Lane, 718 F.2d 226 (7th Cir. 1983).
Inmate's civil claim, unrelated to his imprisonment, can not be denied or delayed by officials. Roberson v. Hewes, 701 F.2d 418 (5th Cir. 1983).
Statute preventing inmates from suing state until they are released from incarceration held unconstitutional. Holman v. Hilton, 712 F.2d 854 (3rd Cir. 1983), affirming 542 F.Supp. 913 (D. N.J. 1982).
Possible liability to prison officials who took actions which adversely affected inmate's access to court for litigating his civil rights claims. Patterson v. Mintzes, 717 F.2d 284 (6th Cir. 1983).
Prisoner enjoined from filing liens against government officials named as defendants in his Section 1983 suit. State for Benefit of Employees of State v. Jenson, 331 N.W.2d 42 (N.D. 1983).
State statute prohibiting civil suits by inmates is unconstitutional. Holman v. Hilton, 712 F.2d 854 (3rd Cir. 1983); affirming 542 F.Supp. 913 (D. N.J. 1982).
Restrictions on jailhouse lawyers and "lending of books" are valid. Inmate discipline upheld. Sinclair v. N.Y. State of Corrections, 457 N.Y.S.2d 1008 (App. 1982).
Texas Federal Court upholds transfer of "jail house lawyer" to maximum security facility. Lerma v. Savage, 534 F.Supp. 462 (S.D. Texas 1982).
Judge orders disclosure of video tape that poses no threat to prison security. Ballard v. Dept. of Corr., 332 N.W.2d 435 (Mich. App. 1982).
What "legal facilities" must be granted to prisoner who represents himself in criminal prosecution. U.S. v. Wilson, 690 F.2d 1267 (9th Cir. 1982).
Nevada court holds no special privileges to permit use of library are guaranteed to prisoner confined to maximum security who is representing himself; upholds his murder conviction. Wilkie v. State, 644 P.2d 508 (Nev. 1982).
Court grants inmate's request for access to court by upholding his "unwanted" transfer to prison with law library. Portis v. Evans, 297 S.E.2d 248 (Ga. 1982).
Court filing fee for inmate's complaint is not proper; however, prior court approval of claim is O.K. In Re Green, 669 F.2d 779 (D.C. Cir. 1982).
Inmate's access to courts not violated by correctional officials conduct. Hudson v. Robinson, 678 F.2d 462 (3rd Cir. 1982).
No constitutional right for prisoner to attend civil hearing of child custody proceedings. Caynor v. Caynor, 327 N.W.2d 633 (Neb. 1982).
District court ordered to accept federal lawsuit after inmate exhausted his administrative remedies. Dutcher v. Smith, 693 F.2d 79 (9th Cir. 1982).
Prison grievance system does not provide a basis for inmate's Section 1983 claim when grievance procedure was not followed. Azeez v. DeRobertis, 568 F.Supp. 8 (N.D. Ill. 1982).
Delaware Supreme Court holds that prisoner transferred to federal prison outside the state was entitled to reasonable access to Delaware legal reference materials. Johnson v. St. of Delaware, 442 A.2d 1362 (Del. 1982).
Federal court rules that New Jersey's system of public defenders and public advocates satisfies state's duty of providing access to courts; holds that state is not required to provide full law library in every jail. Falzerano v. Collier, 535 F.Supp. 800 (D.N.J. 1982).
Appellate Court holds prisoner's complaint alleging officials conspired to retaliate against his civil rights suits stated valid complaint; remands case to district court. Milhouse v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371 (3rd Cir. 1981).
Appeals court rules that North Dakota Penitentiary law library meets constitutional standards. Wattson v. Olson, 660 F.2d 358 (8th Cir. 1981).
Access to court does not permit inmate to use jail house lawyer. Fair v. Givan, 509 F.Supp. 1086 (N.D. Ind. 1981).
Inmate has no due process right to challenge notation in file regarding attempted escape where grievance procedure has not been utilized. Patterson v. Smith, 440 N.Y.S.2d 600 (N.Y. 1981).
Illinois Federal Court assesses inmate fees and costs for expenses of frivolous claims. Partee v. Lane, 528 F.Supp. 1254 (N.D. Ill. 1981).
Fourth Circuit rules that courts may require prisoners to pay reasonable filing fees; allows dismissals where inmate refuses. Evans v. Croom, 650 F.2d 521 (4th Cir. 1981).
No right to appointed counsel for civil suits. Tedder v. Fairman, 418 N.E.2d 91 (Ill. App. 1981).
Inmate may be entitled to appointed counsel to litigate his civil rights claim. Ray v. Robinson, 640 F.2d 474 (3rd Cir. 1981).
New York District court refuses to allow inmate to amend complaint to add new defendants he claimed were harassing him. Howard v. Cronk, 5 F.R.D. 737 (S.D. N.Y. 1980).
Criminal conviction upheld; defendant acting as own attorney knew limits of prison law library. Myron v. State, 281 S.E.2d 600 (Ga. 1980).
Wisconsin District Court rules that inmate's charge of inadequate legal materials is sufficient to state constitutional claim. Delgado v. Sheriff of Milwaukee county, 487 F.Supp. 649 (E.D. Wis. 1980).
Inadequate law library found not to be automatic constitutional violation as other means of legal assistance are available to inmates. Kelsey v. State of Minnesota, 622 F.2d 956 (8th Cir. 1980).
Trial judge's refusal to allow pretrial detainee to use law library held not reversable; criminal conviction upheld. State v. Simon, 297 N.W.2d 206 (Ia. 1980).
Ten-year litigation over law library at Texas jail continues; court indicates possible merit to plaintiffs' allegations. Cruz v. Hauck, 627 F.2d 710 (5th Cir. 1980).
Prisoner who represented himself in successful civil rights action denied attorney fees. Owens-El v. Robinson, 498 F.Supp. 877 (W.D. Pa. 1980).
Warden's decision to transfer prisoner who signed grievance petition affirmed on procedural grounds; "free expression" claim dismissed. Nickens v. White, 622 F.2d 967 (8th Cir. 1980).
Access to public defenders does not satisfy inmate's right to file civil claims regarding prison conditions. Leeds v. Watson, 630 F.2d 674 (9th Cir. 1980).
District court reverses summary judgment granted in favor of prisoners; orders review of inmate access to attorneys from prison legal aid project. Dreher v. Sielaff, 636 F.2d 1141 (7th Cir. 1980).
Trial judge's refusal to allow pretrial detainee to use law library held not reversable; criminal conviction upheld. State v. Simon, 297 N.W.2d 206 (Iowa 1980).
Illinois appeals court rules that due process considerations apply in prisoner's civil suit; dismissal without notice reversed. Merneigh v. Lane, 409 N.E.2d 139 (Ill. App. 1980).
Trial court wrongfully admits officers' affidavits; refuses to subpoena witness for pro se inmate; appellate court orders new trial and appointment of counsel. Manning v. Lockhart, 623 F.2d 536 (8th Cir. 1980).
Third Circuit rules that law librarian may bring action for other inmates, prison may make profit on photocopier, advance sheets may be thrown out and summary dismissal is improper when there is a dispute as to ex-parte testimony. Rhodes v. Robinson, 612 F.2d 766 (3rd Cir. 1979).
Eighth Circuit denies attorney's fees to inmate who was trained as a paralegal and won a civil rights action against a state prison. Davis v. Parratt, 608 F.2d 717 (8th Cir. 1979).
Tenth Circuit rules in favor of Oklahoma prison officials on alleged violation of library, diet, stamp and procedural rights. Twyman v. Crisp, 584 F.2d 352 (10th Cir. 1978).
Wisconsin Court holds that indigent inmates supplied with attorneys need not be given legal materials or office supplies. Bransted v. Wolke, 455 F.Supp. 489 (E.D. Wis. 1978).
Fundamental constitutional right of access to courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in law. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 97 S.Ct. 1491 (1977).
Transfer of jail house lawyer because of rule violations was not in violation of his constitutional rights. Montayne v. Haynes, 427 U.S. 236, 96 S.Ct. 2543 (1976).
» For earlier case discussions see: Hudspeth v. Figgins, 584 F.2d 1345 (4th Cir. 1978); Johnson v. Teasdale, 456 F.Supp. 1083 (W.D. Mo. 1978); Coleman v. Crisp, 444 F.Supp. 31 (W.D. Ok. 1977); Wimberly v. Rogers, 557 F.2d 671 (9th Cir. 1977); Matthews v. Reynolds, 405 F.Supp. 50 (W.D. Va. 1975); Jordan v. Johnson, 381 F.Supp. 600 (E.D. Mich. 1974); Johnson v. Anderson, 370 F.Supp. 1373 (D. Del. 1974); Bauer v. Sielaff, 372 F.Supp. 1104 (E.D. Pa. 1974); Corby v. Conboy, 457 F.2d 251 (2d Cir. 1972); Johnson v. Alldredge, 349 F.Supp. 1230 (M.D. Pa. 1972); Andrade v. Hauck, 452 F.2d 1071 (5th Cir. 1971); Thibadoux v. LaVallee, 411 F.Supp. 862 (W.D. N.Y. 1976); Sledge v. Carlson, 405 F.Supp. 1315 (W.D. Okla. 1975); Keker v. Procunier, 398 F.Supp. 756 (E.D. Cal. 1975); Welch v. Evans, 402 F.Supp. 468 (E.D. Va. 1975); Berch v. Stahl, 373 F.Supp. 412 (W.D. N.C. 1974); Adams v. Carlson, 352 F.Supp. 882 (E.D. Ill. 1973); Christman v. Skinner, 468 F.2d 723 (2d Cir. 1972); Wells v. McGinnis, 344 F. Sup. 594 (S.D. N.Y. 1972). Matter of Green, 586 F.2d 1247 (8th Cir. 1978); U.S. ex. rel. Ratchford v. Jeffes, 451 F.Supp. 675 (E.D. Pa. 1978); Wilson v. Sup. Ct., L.A. Co., 148 Cal.Rptr. 30 (Cal. 1978); Graham v. Hutto, 437 F.Supp. 118 (E.D. Val. 1977); Souza v. Travisono, 368 F.Supp. 959 (D.R.I. 1973); Novak v. Beto, 453 F.2d 661 (5th Cir. 1971); Cross v. Powers, 328 F.Supp. 899 (W.D. Wis. 1971); U.S. v. Chatman, 584 F.2d 1358 (4th Cir. 1978); U.S. v. West, 557 F.2d 151 (8th Cir. 1977); Aikens v. Lash, 371 F.Supp. 482 (N.D. Ind. 1974); White v. Sullivan, 368 F.Supp. 292 (S.D. Ala. 1973); Hampton v. Schauer, 361 F.Supp. 641 (D. Colo. 1973); Nicki v. Schmidt, 351 F.Supp. 385 (W.D. Wis. 1972); Lee v. Stynchcombe, 347 F.Supp. 1076 (N.D. Ga. 1972).