University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Prison Legal News v. Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte JC-MI-0006
Docket / Court 11-cv-13460 ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Case Summary
On August 9, 2011, Prison Legal News (PLN), a publisher that produces a monthly journal concerning criminal justice issues, filed suit in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan against the Livingston County Sheriff and Livingston County under 42 U.S.C. §1983. PLN, represented ... read more >
On August 9, 2011, Prison Legal News (PLN), a publisher that produces a monthly journal concerning criminal justice issues, filed suit in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan against the Livingston County Sheriff and Livingston County under 42 U.S.C. §1983. PLN, represented by private counsel and the Human Rights Defense Center, claimed that defendants had implemented a mail policy at the Livingston County Jail that restricted the right to free expression held by PLN and its subscribers as protected by the United States. PLN sought preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and damages.

Specifically, PLN alleged that Livingston County Jail had, without notice, censored and prevented addressees from receiving mail sent by PLN and did not provide them an opportunity to appeal the censorship decision. Moreover, PLN challenged the jail's postcard policy, which restricted correspondence to prisoners via postcards only. PLN argued that these actions and policies violated their right to freedom of speech, press, and association protected by the First Amendment and right to due process protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

On October 7, 2011, defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. On January 12, 2012, PLN filed a motion for preliminary injunction. On March 29, 2013, after a number of discovery disputes, District Court Judge Denise Page Hood denied PLN's motion and granted in part and denied in part defendant's motion. The court held that issuance of injunctive relief could have a significant effect on the safety of both inmates and jail personnel alike. Prison Legal News v. Bezotte, No. 11-CV-13460, 2013 WL 1316714, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 29, 2013). The court also noted that while PLN did maintain First Amendment claims to speech and press, as a publication rather than legal counsel, PLN had failed to state a constitutional claim for failure to allow visitation of inmates or delivery of "legal mail" that is not personally marked to an individual inmate. Prison Legal News v. Bezotte, No. 11-CV-13460, 2013 WL 1316732 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 29, 2013).

Over the course of the next year, both PLN and defendants moved for reconsideration of these motions. These motions were denied by District Court Judge Denise Page Hood, though the court did issue an amended order granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for partial judgment on the pleadings. Prison Legal News v. Bezotte, No. 11-CV-13460, 2014 WL 1405214, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 11, 2014). This amended order was largely identical to the order issued on March 29, 2013.

As of October 29, 2014, cross-motions for summary judgment are pending.

Richard Jolly - 10/29/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Mail
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Livingston County
Plaintiff Description Publisher of a monthly journal of corrections news and analysis about prisoner rights, court rulings, management of prison facilities and prison conditions
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Links Prison Legal News Homepage
Prison Legal News
By: Prison Legal News
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:11-cv-13460 (E.D. Mich.) 10/21/2014
JC-MI-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 08/09/2011
JC-MI-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Prison Legal News
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction 01/12/2012 (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings 03/29/2013 (2013 WL 1316732) (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0006-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Leave to File Plaintiffs Supplemental Complaint and Brief in Support 01/10/2014
JC-MI-0006-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's March 29, 2013, Regarding Defendant's Motion for Partial Judgment 04/11/2014 (2014 WL 1405409) (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0006-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings 04/11/2014 (2014 WL 1405214) (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0006-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Hood, Denise Page (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0006-0003 | JC-MI-0006-0004 | JC-MI-0006-0006 | JC-MI-0006-9000
Randon, Mark Court not on record
JC-MI-0006-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Loeb, Thomas M. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0006-0001 | JC-MI-0006-9000
Manville, Daniel E. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0006-0005 | JC-MI-0006-9000
Neelakanta, Sabarish (Florida)
JC-MI-0006-9000
Prain, Brian J (Michigan)
JC-MI-0006-0001 | JC-MI-0006-9000
Weber, Lance (Vermont)
JC-MI-0006-0001 | JC-MI-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Kaczmarek, Lindsey A (Michigan)
JC-MI-0006-9000
Lowry, Sara E. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0006-9000
Seward, T. Joseph (Michigan)
JC-MI-0006-0007 | JC-MI-0006-9000
Other Lawyers Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0006-9000

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