On October 29, 1998, the Prison Legal News and inmates in Oregon prisons filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon against the Oregon Department of Corrections and several of its officials. The plaintiffs, who were represented by the Oregon Law ...
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On October 29, 1998, the Prison Legal News and inmates in Oregon prisons filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon against the Oregon Department of Corrections and several of its officials. The plaintiffs, who were represented by the Oregon Law Center and private counsel, sought injunctive relief as well as damages, alleging that the defendants' mail policy, as applied to subscription non-profit publications, violated due process and the First Amendment rights of both the inmates and the non-profit publisher.
The mail policy prohibited the receipt of standard rate mail, which was the postage rate used by non-profit organizations. The inmates were not given notice that mail had been rejected, nor were they given the opportunity to contest the rejection. The inmate plaintiffs had subscribed to the newsletter, but did not receive it, because it was mailed by standard postage rate.
The defendants' moved for summary judgment and the plaintiffs' made a cross-motion for summary judgment. On September 13, 1999, the District Court (Judge Malcolm F. Marsh) granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment.
The plaintiffs appealed. On February 7, 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Robert R. Beezer) reversed the District Court's grant of summary judgment and remanded the case. Prison Legal News v. Cook, 238 F.3d 1145 (9th Cir. 2001). The court held the policy of rejection of subscription non-profit organization mail, because it was sent by standard rate postage, violated the First Amendment rights of the inmates and the non-profit organization. It reasoned that the speech in the newsletters was core protected speech. The court further held that the defendants violated the inmates' right of due process by failing to provide the inmate plaintiffs with notice and opportunity to contest the rejection of the mail in question. The defendant officials, however, were entitled to qualified immunity.
On August 7, 2001, the District Court (Judge Marsh) entered an order, which provided that the mail policy was unconstitutional, as applied to subscription non-profit organization mail, that the defendants were permanently enjoined from enforcing the mail policy against subscription mail from non-profit organizations, and that the defendants were required to provide the recipients of rejected subscription non-profit mail with notice and opportunity to contest the rejection. The plaintiffs' were awarded attorneys' costs and fees.
The case is closed.Kaitlin Corkran - 06/19/2006