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Case Name Urbaniak v. Stanley PC-NC-0010
Docket / Court 5:06-ct-03135-FL ( E.D.N.C. )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On December 12, 2006, Plaintiff, an inmate at the Harnett Correctional Institution, filed a civil rights action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division. Plaintiff alleged that his rights pursuant to the First ... read more >
On December 12, 2006, Plaintiff, an inmate at the Harnett Correctional Institution, filed a civil rights action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division. Plaintiff alleged that his rights pursuant to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Due Process Clause to the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution were violated because he was denied several book and magazine publications. Later, Plaintiff was represented by public interest attorneys from North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services ("NCPLS") and an amended complaint on behalf of Plaintiff was filed on May 11, 2007.

In his amended complaint, Plaintiff names the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Corrections ("DOC"), the Director of North Carolina Prisons, and the Administrator of Harnett Correctional Institution as Defendants. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights pursuant to the First Amendment when they arbitrarily and capriciously denied him access to publications without reference to legitimate penological interests. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the Due Process Clause when they failed to provide him the opportunity to appeal rejected publications to the Publications Review Committee. Plaintiff asks the court for declaratory and injunctive relief for the violation of his rights. Chief Judge Louise W. Flanagan is assigned to the case.

On October 26, 2007, another set of plaintiffs filed essentially the same claims as those alleged in this action in a separate action captioned Allen v. Beck, No. 5:07-CT-3145-H (E.D.N.C. Oct. 26, 2007). The parties jointly requested the court to consolidate these two actions and on May 30, 2008, the court approved the consolidation and designated Urbaniak v. Stanley as the lead case. On the same day, the court also certified a class consisting of all present and future inmates of the DOC who seek to receive publications through the mail.

After extensive but informal discovery, the parties reached a proposed consent decree and filed a stipulated settlement agreement. The agreement is closely tied to enforcement of Defendants' revised publication policy. The policy governs the treatment of publications that inmates receive in the mail and provides that DOC must explain reasons for disallowing publications and give time limits for appeals.

On March 29, 2010, the court preliminarily approved the settlement agreement. Thereafter, the parties provided the class with notice of the settlement. The class members were given until July 13, 2010, to submit objections. The court received sixty-nine (69) written objections to the settlement agreement, most of which challenged enforcement or certain provisions of the policy.

At hearing, the court inquired into and the parties addressed these objections. In light of the parties' continued diligence and thoughtful reflection upon the policies and procedures presented to the court at the July 27, 2010 hearing, the court deemed it appropriate to allow the parties additional time to file a supplement addressing the circumstances surrounding their negotiations and the amended policy. On August 23, 2010, the parties filed a joint supplement with an amended policy attached. The amended policy revises the size limit provision and allows inmates to receive softbound publications and hardbound religious and legal publications that are larger than 8.5 x 11 inches and more than two inches thick; it also allows inmates to retain these religious and legal materials in most cases should their status change. The amended policy includes a new provision which directs that an inmate's publications be stored when an inmate experiences a change in custody status. Additionally, the amended policy permits inmates to send removed CDs or DVDs to an alternate address at their own expense.

The court reconvened the fairness hearing on August 27, 2010 and approved the Consent Decree.

Xin Chen - 07/24/2011


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Grievance Procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) the Administrator of Harnett Correctional Institution
the Director of North Carolina Prisons
the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are members of a certified class consist of all present and future inmates of the North Carolina Department of Corrections who seek to receive publications through the mail.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
5:06-ct-03135-FL (E.D.N.C.) 05/03/2011
PC-NC-0010-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order Dismissing Claims as Frivolous as to Several Defendants 01/08/2007 (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0010-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 05/11/2007
PC-NC-0010-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' and Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Joint Motions to Consolidate Related Cases and to Grant Class Certification of Consolidated Case 11/29/2007
PC-NC-0010-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion to Consolidate Cases and to Certify the Class 05/30/2008 (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0010-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Approve Consent Judgment 04/14/2010 (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0010-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Approval of Notice and Setting of Fairness Hearing 04/27/2010
PC-NC-0010-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting with Revisions Motion to Approve Consent Judgment 05/07/2010 (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0010-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 08/27/2010 (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0010-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Consent Decree (Approved) 08/27/2010
PC-NC-0010-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Flanagan, Louise W. (E.D.N.C.) [Magistrate]
PC-NC-0010-0001 | PC-NC-0010-0004 | PC-NC-0010-0005 | PC-NC-0010-0007 | PC-NC-0010-0008 | PC-NC-0010-0009 | PC-NC-0010-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ducoste, Dawn (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0010-0003 | PC-NC-0010-9000
Griffin, J. Phillip (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0010-0002 | PC-NC-0010-0003 | PC-NC-0010-0006 | PC-NC-0010-0009 | PC-NC-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, James Philip (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0010-0003 | PC-NC-0010-0006 | PC-NC-0010-0009 | PC-NC-0010-9000
Regulski, Peter Andrew (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0010-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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