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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name U.S. ex. Rel. Paraprofessional Law Clinic v. Kane PC-PA-0008
Docket / Court 78-538 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 1978, the Para-Professional Law Clinic, made up of inmates of the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, filed a Section 1983 suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, pro se, against the Secretary of Corrections for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and prison officials. Plaintiffs ... read more >
In 1978, the Para-Professional Law Clinic, made up of inmates of the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, filed a Section 1983 suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, pro se, against the Secretary of Corrections for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and prison officials. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants' plan to close the PPLC would violate inmates constitutional right of access to the courts. At some point the Institutional Law Project agreed to represent plaintiffs.

Following several hearings, Judge Joseph S. Lord, III, issued a permanent injunction in favor of plaintiffs. Judge Lord held that although the current prison library was adequate, it was insufficient to preserve the fundamental right of access to the courts on the part of those prisoners in administrative or disciplinary custody or who were functionally illiterate. Judge Lord found that the PPLC was the only current means of access to the courts for those inmates and therefore it could not be closed. United States ex rel. Para-Professional Law Clinic v. Kane, 656 F. Supp. 1099 (E.D. Pa. 1987).

In February 2001, defendants moved to terminate the 1987 injunction under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Following an evidentiary hearing, the District Court (Judge Berle M. Schiller) granted defendants' motion, but cautioned that should defendants close the PPLC they would likely be hauled back into court because of the inadequacy of their law library and legal services. United States ex rel. Para-Professional Law Clinic v. Beard, 2002 WL 1160757 (E.D. Pa. May 30, 2002). Plaintiffs appealed, but the Court of Appeals affirmed on July 24, 2003. United States ex rel. Para-Professional Law Clinic v. Beard, 334 F.3d 301 (3d Cir. 2003). According to the docket available on PACER, the case was closed in June 2002.

Rebekah Henn Sullivan - 07/28/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Law library access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) State Correctional Institute at Graterford
Plaintiff Description Prisoners raising issues of right of access to the courts
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1987 - 2001
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-PA-0013 : Wade v. Kane (E.D. Pa.)
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)
78-538 (E.D. Pa.) 10/10/2003
PC-PA-0008-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Reported Opinion 03/25/1987 (656 F.Supp. 1099) (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0008-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Table 11/04/1987 (835 F.2d 285)
PC-PA-0008-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum Decision 04/04/1988 (485 U.S. 993)
PC-PA-0008-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum and Order 05/19/1988 (1988 WL 52099 / 1988 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 4493) (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0008-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum and Order 05/30/2002 (2002 WL 1160757 / 2002 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 9663) (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0008-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Opinion of the Court 07/01/2003 (334 F.3d 301)
PC-PA-0008-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Table 07/29/2003 (80 Fed.Appx. 287)
PC-PA-0008-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Barry, Maryanne Trump (Third Circuit, D.N.J.)
PC-PA-0008-0002
Lord, Joseph Simon III (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0008-0001 | PC-PA-0008-0004
Schiller, Berle M. (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0008-0005 | PC-PA-0008-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Duncan, Charles Lang Jr. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0008-0004
Krakoff, Jere (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0008-9000
Love, Angus R. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0008-0002 | PC-PA-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Shellenberger, John O.J. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0008-0002 | PC-PA-0008-9000
Vickers, Maria Parisi (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0008-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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