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Case Name Langton v. Hogan PC-MA-0010
Docket / Court 79-2167 ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On October 30, 1979, William Langton and David LeBlanc, inmates at the Southeastern Correctional Center of Massachusetts, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts alleging that state prison officials violated their constitutionally ... read more >
On October 30, 1979, William Langton and David LeBlanc, inmates at the Southeastern Correctional Center of Massachusetts, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts alleging that state prison officials violated their constitutionally protected rights by intercepting and monitoring their telephone calls to counsel and other private calls. The inmates' telephone access was restricted while they were held in the maximum security area of the prison, and they were represented by private counsel. On October 17, 1984, after negotiations of the parties, the District Court (Judge Rya Zobel) entered a settlement stipulation. Included in the settlement stipulation was a permanent injunction that prevented the prison officials from intercepting any wire communication by or to William Langton or David LeBlanc while in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

Shortly after entry of the settlement agreement, the inmates filed a petition for contempt alleging that the intent and language of the agreement had violated by prison officials regularly asking inmates whether prospective telephone calls were personal or legal and on one occasion requiring an inmate to divulge the name and number of the person to be called. Judge Zobel ordered the officials to cease such conduct and comply with the settlement agreement. The private counsel for the inmates subsequently prevailed on its motion for attorney's fees and costs when Judge Zobel found them to be a prevailing party on the contempt motion. Langton v. Hogan, No. 79-2167, 1988 U.S. Dist. WL 3099 (D.Mass. Jan. 8, 1988) (memorandum of decision).

The Department of Correction apparently complied henceforth with the permanent injunction until April 1994, when it promulgated new regulations governing telephone access and use by inmates found at 103 C.M.R. §§482.00 et seq. These regulations instituted a system of routine monitoring of inmate telephone calls by the Department of Correction and required inmates to sign a form consenting to having their calls monitored, or be deprived of their telephone access. Langton and LeBlanc refused to sign the consent forms and were denied telephone access. They filed a petition for contempt, and in January 1995, the state officials filed a motion to modify the permanent injunction. On February 21, 1995, Judge Zobel allowed the modification of the permanent injunction to limit Langton and LeBlanc's access in accordance with the new regulations except that the prison officials were not permitted to monitor the plaintiffs' calls. Langton v. Hogan, No. 79-2167, 1995 U.S. Dist. WL 96948 (D.Mass. Feb. 21, 1995) (memorandum decision). This modification was contingent upon counsel submitting a form of judgment reflecting the modification of the permanent injunction. However, the counsel failed to agree upon a form of judgment reflecting the modification allowed. Therefore, on May 3, 1995, Judge Zobel signed a judgment that denied the prison officials' request to modify the permanent injunction to allow monitoring of the plaintiffs' telephone calls. Judge Zobel did find that other limitations on plaintiffs' telephone calls requested by state officials were appropriate. These limitations included requiring each plaintiff to use a PIN, requiring the plaintiffs to submit a list of telephone numbers for authorization, and limiting the actual number of telephone calls. On November 21, 1995, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (District Judge Robert Keeton, sitting by designation) affirmed this modification of the permanent injunction Langton v. Hogan, 71 F.3d 930 (1st Cir. 1995).

The docket information available on PACER begins on June 9, 1994, with the plaintiffs' aforementioned petition for contempt which was filed in response to the new prison telephone regulations promulgated by the state of Massachusetts in April 1994. On July 9, 1996, the case was reassigned from Judge Zobel to Judge Mark L. Wolf of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Although the plaintiffs filed subsequent motions for contempt, preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders, all of these outstanding issues were deemed by Judge Wolf to be resolved on May 20, 1997, and the case was closed on that date.

Tom Madison - 03/25/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Massachusetts
Plaintiff Description Inmates at the Southeastern Correctional Center arguing about access to the telephone in the maximum security area
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1984 - 1997
Case Closing Year 1997
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 ]

79-2167 (D. Mass.) 12/11/1997
PC-MA-0010-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum of Decision 01/08/1988 (1988 WL 3099 / 1988 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 105) (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0010-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum of Decision 02/21/1995 (1995 WL 96948 / 1995 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 2900) (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0010-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Reported Opinion 12/14/1995 (71 F.3d 930)
PC-MA-0010-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Keeton, Robert Ernest (D. Mass.)
Wolf, Mark Lawrence (D. Mass.)
Zobel, Rya Weickert (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0010-0002 | PC-MA-0010-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bannon, Dennis J. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0010-0001 | PC-MA-0010-9000
Hamelburg, Barbara S. (Massachusetts)
Monaghan, John (Massachusetts)
Troy, Paul E. (Massachusetts)
Defendant's Lawyers Abbott, Howard C. (Alabama)
Bishop, John W. Jr. (Massachusetts)
Harshbarger, Scott (Massachusetts)
Laufer, Karen (Massachusetts)
Munnelly, Robert J. Jr. (Massachusetts)
Ranieri, Donald G. (Massachusetts)
Silva, Philip W. IV (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0010-0001 | PC-MA-0010-9000
White, Nancy Ankers (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0010-0003 | PC-MA-0010-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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