Part two: case summaries by major topic: part II.

Position:Case overview

28. MAIL U.S. District Court Frazier v. Diguglielmo, 640 F.Supp.2d 593 INTERFERENCE (E.D.Pa. 2008). A prisoner brought an action SEIZURE against several prison officers and supervisors, alleging that the defendants violated his rights by interfering with his mail and seizing legal materials from his cell. The defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that the prisoner's bare allegation, that prison officials' seizure of a writ of coram nobis "obstructed" his right to "petition the government for redress of grievances," was insufficient to allege the infringement of an exercise of a First Amendment right of access to the courts to secure judicial relief, as required to state a claim for violation of the right of access. The court noted that the prisoner did not describe the contents of the writ or the judgment he sought to challenge, nor did the prisoner allege or even allude to any prejudice in any legal action caused by the writ's confiscation. The court found that the prisoner's allegation that prison officials seized legal documents relating to his criminal and habeas cases was insufficient to state a claim for violation of First Amendment right of access to the courts, absent an allegation that the alleged seizure caused him prejudice in a legal challenge to his conviction or to his conditions of confinement. (State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania) U.S. District Court Covell v. Arpaio, 662 F.Supp.2d 1146 (D.Ariz. LEGAL MAIL 2009). A prisoner brought a [section] 1983 LIMITATION SECURITY action against a county sheriff, alleging that PRACTICES the sheriff violated his First Amendment rights by instituting a policy that banned incoming letters and restricted incoming mail to metered postcards. The prisoner alleged that the mail policy prevented him from receiving legal mail from witnesses in his criminal case. The sheriff moved for summary judgment and the district court granted the motion. The court held that the jail's non-privileged mail policy which banned incoming letters and restricted incoming mail to metered postcards was reasonably related to a legitimate penological interest in reducing contraband smuggling. The court noted that alternative means, including postcards, telephones, and jail visits, existed. According to the court, allowing stamped mails would increase the likelihood of smuggling contraband into the jail, which would in turn lead to conflicts and violence, and there was no evidence that the prisoner's suggested alternative, by having staff inspect each piece of mail and remove the stamps, would accommodate the right at a de minimis cost to the jail. The court held that even if correspondence from a witness on the prisoner's witness list was improperly excluded by the county jail, in violation of the prisoner's right of access to the courts, the prisoner failed to allege any violation of the policy that was at the direction of the county sheriff, as required to render him liable under [section] 1983. (Maricopa County Lower Buckeye Jail, Arizona) U.S. District Court Doss v. Gilkey, 649 F.Supp.2d 905 (S.D.I11. LIMITING 2009). Federal prisoners brought an action CORRESPONDENTS against prison officials, alleging that the officials' failure to acknowledge the validity of their marriage and to grant them a spousal exemption to the rule that inmates could not correspond with each other violated their equal protection and due process rights. The officials moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion. According to the court, the prison officials' failure to acknowledge the validity of the marriage of two prisoners and to grant them a spousal exemption to the rule that inmates could not correspond with each other did not violate the prisoners' equal protection rights where there was no showing that officials singled out the prisoners based on their Islamic religion or any other improper consideration. The court found that the prison had a legitimate security interest in generally preventing unrelated prisoners from corresponding, the face of the prisoners' marriage certificate did not strictly comport with the statutory requirements, the marriage certificate was not registered, as required by state law, and there was some evidence that the marriage was not valid due to one prisoner's failure to terminate a prior marriage. (Federal Correctional Institution, Greenville, Illinois) U.S. Appeals Mays v. Springborn, 575 F.3d 643 (7th Cir. 2009). Court CENSORSHIP A prisoner brought an action against prison officials, asserting claims based on strip searches at prisons and alleged retaliation for his complaints about the searches, denial of his request for dietary supplements which he considered to be religious necessities, alleged inadequacy of his diet, failure to issue certain winter clothing items, and censorship of pages in a magazine mailed to him. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the officials on the claims about prison food and clothing and granted the officials judgment as a matter of law on the claims about strip searches, retaliation, and censorship. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. The court held that the prison's censorship of a magazine mailed to the prisoner, by removing an article that described a prison riot and pictures of people believed to have been making gang signs, was reasonable, even if the prisoner had access to other writings and to television shows about prison riots. (Stateville Correctional Center, Illinois) U.S. District Proctor v. Applegatey 661 F.Supp.2d 743 Court LEGAL MAIL (E.D.Mich. 2009). State prisoners brought a OUTGOING MAIL [section] 1983 action against Michigan REJECTING MAIL Department of Corrections (MDOC) employees and multiple prison facilities, alleging violations of their constitutional rights. The defendants moved to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds and for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that state prison regulations which permitted the confiscation of certain types of mail and prohibited "copyrighting" of names served a legitimate and neutral government purpose, and thus did not violate the prisoners' constitutional rights. According to the court, an employee's rejection of the prisoner's letters to nine state senators and representatives because the prisoner did not pay for postage and because the letters did not qualify as legal mail, as they were not addressed to a court, attorney, or a party to a lawsuit, did not implicate the prisoner's constitutional rights. (Michigan Department of Corrections) 29. MEDICAL CARE U.S. District Presley v. City of Blackshear, 650 F.Supp.2d 1307 Court DELIBERATE (S.D.Ga. 2008). A mother brought an action INDIFFERENCE against a city police officer and a county NEGLIGENCE paramedic, arising out of her son's death while detained in a county jail after his arrest. The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court held that the arresting officer was not deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of the detainee who died of an apparent drug overdose after being arrested on drug charges and placed into custody at a county jail, absent evidence that the arresting officer actually saw the detainee swallow any drugs that allegedly led to his death. The court held that the county paramedic who responded to the jail was not deliberately indifferent despite any alleged negligence in the paramedic's original diagnosis. The court noted that the paramedic promptly responded to both calls from county jail concerning the detainee, and, each time, examined the detainee to determine whether further medical treatment was needed. According to the court, the paramedic's alleged bad judgment and negligence in caring for the pretrial detainee who died of an apparent drug overdose, was insufficient to show a lack of good faith for the purposes of statutory immunity from negligence or malpractice liability under Georgia law. (City of Blackshear and Pierce County Jail, Georgia) U.S. District Williams v. Hayman, 657 F.Supp.2d 488 (D.N.J. Court ADA- 2008). A state prisoner brought an action for Americans with violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging denial of various social and HEARING IMPAIRED educational programs and services at a prison because he was deaf, and naming as a defendant the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC), the Executive Director of the New Jersey Parole Board, the prison's chief administrator, the prison's assistant administrator, the prison's parole administrator, a corrections officer, two social workers at prison, and the prison's psychiatrist. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants in part and denied in part. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the prisoner's deafness inhibited his capacity to express his grievances comprehensibly in writing in accordance with prison grievance program's requirements. The court also found a genuine issue of material fact as to the prison social worker's ability to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. (South Woods State Prison, New Jersey) U.S. District Adams v. Banks, 663 F.Supp.2d 485 (S.D.Miss. Court ADEQUACY OF 2009). An inmate brought a [section] 1983 action CARE DELIBERATE against a warden and other prison officials for INDIFFERENCE exposure to unreasonable levels of secondhand SMOKE-FREE smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and ENVIRONMENT for denial of adequate medical care. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the inmate moved...

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