On December 3, 2009 Prison Legal News ("PLN") and Human Rights Defense Center filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Stephens ("Stephens"), who is responsible for operating the St. Bernard Parish Prison facility ("St. Bernard") , and several employees who work at that facility under 42 U.S.C.§1983 and 198 ...
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On December 3, 2009 Prison Legal News ("PLN") and Human Rights Defense Center filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Stephens ("Stephens"), who is responsible for operating the St. Bernard Parish Prison facility ("St. Bernard") , and several employees who work at that facility under 42 U.S.C.§1983 and 1988. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as damages, alleging that the defendants maintained an unlawful policy of refusing to deliver incoming PLN publications addressed to prisoners in violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and 42 USC 1983. Plaintiffs also alleged violations of due process of the law due to the failure to give notice and an opportunity for the plaintiff publishers and distributors whose publications to respond to the denial of access..
On Jan. 12, 2010 plaintiffs filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction. On January 19, 2010 the District Court (Judge Jay C. Zainey) issued a Minute Entry noting that the parties were working to reach a settlement and scheduling a settlement conference. During this conference, the parties reached a settlement.
On May 18, 2010, the District Court (Judge Zainey) signed a Consent Judgment pursuant to the parties' settlement agreement, granting plaintiffs injunctive relief only. This Consent Judgment required the defendants to distribute to plaintiffs' subscribers at St. Bernard past issues of plaintiffs' monthly publication. In addition, defendants agreed to adopt and implement within 30 days a new written policy regarding St. Bernard's prisoners' receipt of publications. This new policy required the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office to permit an "inmate to subscribe to or to receive publications without prior approval," provided that such publications "are not detrimental to the security, discipline, or good order of the institution." The Consent Judgment stipulated that is was the full and final judgment between the parties with regard to permanent injunctive relief only. The Consent Judgment did not finalize a settlement agreement between the parties with respect to the damages and declaratory relief plaintiffs sought.
On June 17, 2010, the parties advised the District Court (Judge Zainey) via telephone that they had reached a tentative settlement agreement concerning damages and attorneys' fees, subject to approval by the Louisiana Sheriff's Association. Upon receiving notice of the tentative settlement agreement, the District Court (Judge Zainey) dismissed the action, but retained jurisdiction over the matter to enforce the settlement agreements.Mark Scoville - 04/09/2011