University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Watson v. Norris PC-TN-0009
Docket / Court 87-699 ( M.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On September 3, 1987, an inmate at the Turney Industrial Center and Farm, a prison in Tennessee, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and against the warden and various officers of the Turney Center in the U.S. District ... read more >
On September 3, 1987, an inmate at the Turney Industrial Center and Farm, a prison in Tennessee, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and against the warden and various officers of the Turney Center in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. After a hearing, the court's Magistrate judge ordered, on February 9, 1988, that numerous portions of the complaint were frivolous, and dismissed those claims. The plaintiff, who was represented by the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages for the remaining claims, alleging that the Turney Center deprived inmates in protective segregation of their constitutional right of access to the courts. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that his access to prison law library materials and to legal assistance was unreasonably limited. The plaintiff sought to change the Turney Center's policies regarding the distribution of legal publications to inmates in segregation.

Both parties moved for Summary Judgment. On August 3, 1989, the Magistrate recommended that both parties' motions be denied and that the case be set for trial. The plaintiff appealed the denial of his Motion for Summary Judgment, and on December 7, 1989, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Judge Thomas Higgins) enjoined the Turney Center from restricting segregated inmates' access to legal publications by giving prison officials or fellow inmates the power to give or deny legal assistance to them. Watson v. Norris, 729 F. Supp. 581 (M.D. Tenn. 1989). The court ordered the Turney Center to submit to the court a proposed plan for changes in its policy within 30 days.

Laura Uberti - 05/16/2006


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Law library access
Protective custody
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Tennessee Department of Corrections
Turney Industrial Center and Farm
Plaintiff Description Prisoner of the state of Tennessee
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
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 not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
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
Memorandum 12/07/1989 (729 F.Supp. 581) (M.D. Tenn.)
PC-TN-0009-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 10/02/2000 (531 U.S. 896)
PC-TN-0009-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Higgins, Thomas Aquinas (M.D. Tenn.)
PC-TN-0009-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kay, Susan Laurie (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0009-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Reevers, Stephanie (Tennessee)
PC-TN-0009-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -