University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Prison Legal News v. Livingston PC-TX-0014
Docket / Court 2:09-cv-00296 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Case Summary
On November 4, 2009, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court of the Southern District of Texas under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988 against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. PLN, represented by private and public interest counsel, asked for punitive and ... read more >
On November 4, 2009, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court of the Southern District of Texas under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988 against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. PLN, represented by private and public interest counsel, asked for punitive and compensatory damages and injunctive relief, claiming that PLN's right to free speech and due process had been violated.

Specifically the plaintiff claimed that a prisoner at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Hilltop Unit ordered a copy of Women Behind Bars from PLN and once it arrived to Hilltop, informed the prisoner she could not receive the book due to a content violation. PLN did not receive notification of this denial. PLN sent multiple copies of Women Behind Bars and other books critical of the prison system and the books were all denied entry. PLN claimed that their First Amendment rights to free speech and expression had been violated, their liberty interest in communicating with incarcerated individuals had been denied, and that there was no legitimate penological interest for doing so. Furthermore, PLN claimed that they had been denied due process of law because PLN had not been given notice when their publications were not allowed into the prison.

On January 4, 2011, the District Court (Judge Janis Graham Jack) granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court held that First Amendment rights do not apply to readers and publishers alone, but also to book distributors, as long as the recipient of the book is willing. However, the court found that stopping these books from coming into prisons was a legitimate government interest for the TDCJ. The court noted that since this was not a facial challenge of book banning practices in Texas prisons, but was an as applied challenge, it was much harder to rule in favor of the plaintiffs in this case as the judgment of prison officials is given broad deference.

The plaintiffs then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the summary judgment ruling was affirmed on June 1, 2012 after a de novo review.

Deeva Shah - 10/01/2014


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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
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Conditions of confinement
Library (non-law) access
Mail
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Plaintiff Description Publisher of a monthly magazine and distributor of books, informing incarcerated individuals of their rights.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2012
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 ]

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

Docket(s)
2:09-cv-00296 (S.D. Tex.) 07/02/2012
PC-TX-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 11/04/2009
PC-TX-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 12/17/2009 (2009 WL 5170229) (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0014-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 02/16/2010
PC-TX-0014-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 04/21/2010 (2010 WL 1610109) (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0014-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint 07/28/2010
PC-TX-0014-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 01/04/2011 (2011 WL 22639) (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0014-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment 01/05/2011 (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0014-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (Affirming Summary Judgment for Defendants) 06/01/2012 (683 F.3d 201)
PC-TX-0014-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judgment 06/29/2012
PC-TX-0014-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Clement, Edith Brown (E.D. La., Fifth Circuit)
PC-TX-0014-0001 | PC-TX-0014-0009
DeMoss, Harold R. Jr. (Fifth Circuit)
PC-TX-0014-0001 | PC-TX-0014-0009
Elrod, Jennifer Walker (Fifth Circuit)
PC-TX-0014-0001 | PC-TX-0014-0009
Jack, Janis Graham (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0014-0002 | PC-TX-0014-0004 | PC-TX-0014-0006 | PC-TX-0014-0008 | PC-TX-0014-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Harrington, James C (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-0003 | PC-TX-0014-0005 | PC-TX-0014-0007 | PC-TX-0014-9000
Izzo, Lauren (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-0003 | PC-TX-0014-0005 | PC-TX-0014-0007 | PC-TX-0014-9000
Manville, Daniel E. (Michigan)
PC-TX-0014-0003 | PC-TX-0014-0005 | PC-TX-0014-9000
Medlock, Scott Charles (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-0003 | PC-TX-0014-0005 | PC-TX-0014-0007 | PC-TX-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Burton, Cynthia (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-9000
Cook, Allan Kennedy (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-0007 | PC-TX-0014-9000
Cunniff, Celamine (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-9000
Hoffman, Jesse (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-9000
Johnson, Calysta L (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-9000
Matlock, Karen (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-9000
Wells, Jennifer J (Texas)
PC-TX-0014-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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