University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Goff v. Nix PC-IA-0014
Docket / Court 90-50145 ( S.D. Iowa )
State/Territory Iowa
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 1993, two inmates at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa against prison officials seeking an injunction against the prison's prohibition of legal correspondence between inmates ... read more >
In 1993, two inmates at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa against prison officials seeking an injunction against the prison's prohibition of legal correspondence between inmates in different prison units. Following a bench trial, the District Court (Judge Donald E. O'Brien) granted an injunction on October 19, 1993, finding that restrictions on legal communications burdened inmates' right of access to the courts. The court ordered the prison to allow prisoners to send legal mail to inmates in other facilities and to ensure that mail would be returned to its owner when a ""jail-house lawyer"" was transferred to another facility.

The prison officials appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Judge Richard S. Arnold) affirmed in part and reversed in part, vacating the injunction except to the extent that it required the return of legal documents to their owners. Goff v. Nix, 113 F.3d 887 (8th Cir. 1997).

The PACER docket ends with the denial of plaintiffs' motion for rehearing on October 14, 1997.

Rebekah Henn Sullivan - 08/11/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Iowa State Penitentiary (def)
Plaintiff Description Jailhouse lawyers sought injunction against penitentiary's prohibition of legal correspondence between inmates in different prison units
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1993 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
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)
90-50145 (S.D. Iowa) 10/14/1997
PC-IA-0014-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Reported Opinion 05/15/1997 (113 F.3d 887)
PC-IA-0014-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Arnold, Richard Sheppard (Eighth Circuit, E.D. Ark., W.D. Ark.)
PC-IA-0014-0001
Beam, Clarence Arlen (Eighth Circuit, D. Neb.)
PC-IA-0014-0001
O'Brien, Donald Eugene (N.D. Iowa, S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0014-9000
Ross, Donald Roe (Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0014-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Mears, Philip B. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0014-0001 | PC-IA-0014-9000
Rose, Dudie J. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0014-9000
Sobel, Scott A. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Gordon E. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0014-9000
Campbell, Bonnie Jean (Iowa)
PC-IA-0014-9000
Hill, William A. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0014-0001
Lindebak, Layne M. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0014-0001 | PC-IA-0014-9000
Miller, Thomas J. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0014-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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