University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Dumont v. Coughlin PC-NY-0043
Docket / Court 82-1059 ( N.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 1982, prisoners incarcerated in the Auburn and Clinton Correctional Facilities filed two separate lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York against the New York Department of Correctional Services and prison officials. On January 14, 1983, the court ... read more >
In 1982, prisoners incarcerated in the Auburn and Clinton Correctional Facilities filed two separate lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York against the New York Department of Correctional Services and prison officials. On January 14, 1983, the court certified a class, which included all inmates of Auburn and Clinton Correctional Facilities. On May 10, 1983, the court formally consolidated the two cases, Dumont v. Couglin, No. 82 CV 1059, and Smith v. Coughlin, No. 82 CV 426. The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society Prisoners' Rights Project, sought injunctive relief from alleged violations of their First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that their free speech and procedural due process rights were impaired by the Department of Correctional Services' censorship of prisoners' mail.

On October 12, 1983, the parties submitted a Stipulation for the Entry of Partial Final Judgment to the court. The Stipulation outlined specific practices for screening inmate mail to be adopted by Auburn and Clinton Correctional Facilities. Under the consent decree, prison security was ensured by prohibiting mail containing instructions about violence, escape, or anarchy, while prisoners' constitutional rights were protected by permitting inmates to receive mail that advocated alternative political beliefs. For instance, specific publications about socialism, religion, and sexual orientation (e.g., The Gay Community News) were authorized for delivery and procedures were established for appealing censorship decisions.

On December 5, 1983, the court (Judge Neal P. McCurn) ordered that class members be notified of the proposed settlement. Some prisoners raised objections at a hearing on February 13, 1984. On May 4, 1984, the court nonetheless approved the partial final judgment as a consent decree and ordered that class members be notified of the settlement and how to receive a full copy of the stipulations.

We have no additional information about this lawsuit, although the fact that the court approved a partial final judgment would seem to indicate that other issues were raised and, perhaps, litigated in these lawsuits.

Kristen Sagar - 08/15/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Mail
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Auburn Correctional Facility
Clinton Correctional Facility
New York Department of Correctional Services
Plaintiff Description Inmates of the Auburn and Clinton Correctional Facilities.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1983 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
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)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Stipulation for Entry of Partial Final Judgment 10/12/1983
PC-NY-0043-0001 PDF | Detail
Notice to All Inmates at Auburn and Clinton Correctional Facilities 03/01/1984
PC-NY-0043-0003 PDF | Detail
Partial Final Judgment by Consent 03/09/1984 (N.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0043-0002 PDF | Detail
Judges McCurn, Neal Peters (N.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0043-0002 | PC-NY-0043-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Lewis, David A. (New York)
PC-NY-0043-0001
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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