University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Prison Legal News v. Stolle JC-VA-0014
Docket / Court 2:13-cv-00424-MSD-TEM ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Case Summary
On July 31, 2013, Prison Legal News, represented by private and in-house counsel, filed this lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia. PLN sued the Virginia Beach Correctional Center (VBCC) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for declaratory and injunctive relief and monetary damages. PLN claimed that VBCC ... read more >
On July 31, 2013, Prison Legal News, represented by private and in-house counsel, filed this lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia. PLN sued the Virginia Beach Correctional Center (VBCC) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for declaratory and injunctive relief and monetary damages. PLN claimed that VBCC has been censoring the monthly publication, books, and other correspondence that the plaintiff has sent to prisoners. PLN alleged violations of the first and fourteenth amendments for failure to provide timely notification and adequate reasons for disapproval decisions, loss of rights to communicate with willing recipients, and failure to conduct an independent review of censorship decisions.

PLN claimed that since August 2011, it had sent prisoners in custody of VBCC sample and monthly issues of Prison Legal News, information brochure packets, a book titled Protecting Your Health, and copies of Clement v. California Department of Corrections. Prior to April 2012, the prisoners were permitted to receive these publications from PLN. However, starting in April 2012, PLN began receiving returned items it had mailed to prisoners at VBCC stamped or handwritten with "Return to Sender," "Not Here," or "Refused." According to the Mail Restriction Forms given to the inmates, the items had been censored because the advertisements contained "sexually explicit material" and ordering forms with prices, which are not permitted at VBCC.

On December 8, 2014, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the issue of banning ordering forms with prices. The court took the challenge to sexually explicit materials ban under advisement and denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment related to PLN's alleged due process violations. Additionally, the court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on PLN's claims seeking money damages due to the defendant's qualified immunity. 2014 WL 6982470.

During the litigation, the defendants revised their policies on banning "sexually explicit" publications and the appeals process regarding censorship decisions.

On March 31, 2015, the court granted PLN's original motion for summary judgment regarding the defendant's former policy of banning "sexually explicit" publications. The court permanently enjoined the defendants from reverting to their former policy. The court also granted PLN's second motion for summary judgment regarding the claim the defendant's former publication review policies failed to provide adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard as to censorship decisions. The court permanently enjoined the defendants from reverting to these former policies as well. 2015 WL 1487190.

On May 4, 2015, the parties settled and the court approved the joint consent order. The parties settled all issues except attorney's fees, which they asked the court to resolve. On September 8, 2015, the court awarded $85,189 in attorney's fees and $8,731.10 in litigation expenses. 2015 WL 5285736.

Anna Jones - 11/21/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Recordkeeping
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Mail
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Virginia Beach Sheriff
Plaintiff Description Prison Legal News is a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, a non-profit whose mission is public and prisoner education, advocacy, and outreach.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

Docket(s)
2:13-cv-424 (E.D. Va.) 10/08/2015
JC-VA-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint and Jury Demand 07/30/2013
JC-VA-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint and Jury Demand 03/26/2014
JC-VA-0014-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 12/08/2014 (2014 WL 6982470) (E.D. Va.)
JC-VA-0014-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 03/31/2015 (2015 WL 1487190) (E.D. Va.)
JC-VA-0014-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Consent Order 05/04/2015 (W.D. Va.)
JC-VA-0014-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 09/08/2015 (2015 WL 5285736) (E.D. Va.)
JC-VA-0014-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Davis, Mark Steven (E.D. Va.)
JC-VA-0014-0002 | JC-VA-0014-0003 | JC-VA-0014-0004 | JC-VA-0014-0005 | JC-VA-0014-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fogel, Jeffrey E. (Virginia)
JC-VA-0014-0001 | JC-VA-0014-0006 | JC-VA-0014-9000
Jack, Robert Erle (Florida)
JC-VA-0014-9000
Rosenfield, Steven David (Virginia)
JC-VA-0014-0001 | JC-VA-0014-0006 | JC-VA-0014-9000
Weber, Lance (Florida)
JC-VA-0014-0001 | JC-VA-0014-0006 | JC-VA-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Rosen, Jeff Wayne (Virginia)
JC-VA-0014-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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