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Case Name Prison Legal News v. Fulton County, GA JC-GA-0033
Docket / Court 1:07-cv-02618-CAP ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization Southern Center for Human Rights
Case Summary
On October 22, 2007, the Prison Legal News (PLN), the publisher of a monthly magazine on prison issues, filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, challenging the Fulton County Jail mail policy barring prisoners' receipt of any and ... read more >
On October 22, 2007, the Prison Legal News (PLN), the publisher of a monthly magazine on prison issues, filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, challenging the Fulton County Jail mail policy barring prisoners' receipt of any and all books, magazines, and newspapers (other than religious publications). PLN claimed that the Jail policy violated the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Georgia constitution. PLN further claimed that the mail policy had previously been declared unconstitutional in the case Daker v. Barrett, No. 1:00-CV-1065-RWS (N.D. Ga. July 22, 2002). PLN sought declaratory and injunctive relief, barring enforcement of the mail policy.

Fulton County denied that the mail policy was unconstitutional. On December 18, 2007, PLN moved for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the continued enforcement of the mail policy. Two days later, Fulton County Sheriff instituted a modified mail policy. Fulton County then argued that the case was moot in light of the new policy.

On January 31, 2008, the District Court (Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr.) held a preliminary injunction hearing. Fulton County conceded that the old mail policy was unconstitutional, but argued that since it voluntarily adopted a new policy, injunctive relief was unnecessary. Judge Pannell disagreed and on February 4, 2008, entered a preliminary injunction, enjoining enforcement of the old mail policy and requiring that the new mail policy remain in effect. Fulton County was also ordered to notify PLN of any changes made to the new mail policy. Under the new mail policy, the Jail permitted PLN subscriptions to be delivered to imprisoned subscribers.

On March 25, 2008, PLN filed an amended complaint to reflect the changes brought about by the preliminary injunction. The amended complaint refers to the mail policy originally at issue in the case as the former policy and requests declaratory and injunctive relief in the form of an order requiring the defendants to comply with the new, current policy as amended by the parties in settlement negotiations.

On September 2, 2008, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment with regard to the individual liability for nominal damages against the defendant sheriff, an agent of the county. On July 13, 2009, Judge Parnell, Jr. denied in part and granted in part the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The court granted the motion as to the injunctive and declaratory relief but denied the motion as it relates to damages against the sheriff in his individual capacity as Fulton County Sheriff. The court denied PLN’s cross-motion for partial summary judgement.

After what can only be assumed to be settlement negotiations, on November 9, 2009, Judge Parnell ordered a consent judgment, entering judgment on behalf of the plaintiff and against the defendant in an amont of $30,000. Later that month, PLN filed a motion for costs and fees that the court granted, awarding to the plaintiff $119,759.21. The case is closed.

On April 26, 2016, pursuant to the 2008 order, the defendant provided notice to the court to a proposed change to the mail policy whereby the prison would only allow post-card mailing in order to curtail the flow on contraband through the mailing system. On June 24, 2016, PLN filed a notice of objection to Fulton County’s unilateral change to the court ordered mail policy. The docket ends here and we have no way of knowing what followed.

Dan Dalton - 02/11/2008
Jake Parker - 05/23/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Mail
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Fulton County Sheriff's Department
Fulton County, GA
Plaintiff Description Prison Legal News
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Center for Human Rights
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Case Ongoing Unknown
Additional Resources
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  Prison Legal News Homepage
Prison Legal News
By: Prison Legal News
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:07-cv-02618-CAP (N.D. Ga.)
JC-GA-0033-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/24/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
JC-GA-0033-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Minute Sheet for proceedings held In Open Court on 01/31/2008 [ECF# 15]
JC-GA-0033-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/31/2008
Order [ECF# 16] (N.D. Ga.)
JC-GA-0033-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/04/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Prison Legal News v. Fulton County - Amended Complaint [ECF# 21]
JC-GA-0033-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/25/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion [and Attached Consent Order] Approving Proposed Changes to Fulton County Sheriff's Department Jail Bureau Policies and Procedures 3000-01 [ECF# 25] (N.D. Ga.)
JC-GA-0033-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/14/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 73] (N.D. Ga.)
JC-GA-0033-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/13/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Judgment [ECF# 83] (N.D. Ga.)
JC-GA-0033-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/09/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 98] (N.D. Ga.)
JC-GA-0033-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Pannell, Charles A. Jr. (N.D. Ga.)
JC-GA-0033-0002 | JC-GA-0033-0003 | JC-GA-0033-0004 | JC-GA-0033-0006 | JC-GA-0033-0007 | JC-GA-0033-0008 | JC-GA-0033-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Spears, George Brian (Georgia)
JC-GA-0033-0001 | JC-GA-0033-0002 | JC-GA-0033-0004 | JC-GA-0033-0005 | JC-GA-0033-9000
Weber, Gerald R. (Georgia)
JC-GA-0033-0001 | JC-GA-0033-0002 | JC-GA-0033-0004 | JC-GA-0033-0005 | JC-GA-0033-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dancy, Rolesia Butler (Georgia)
JC-GA-0033-0002 | JC-GA-0033-9000
McDonald, Nikisha L. (Georgia)
JC-GA-0033-9000
Nkumeh, Nwakaego Ijeoma (Georgia)
JC-GA-0033-0004 | JC-GA-0033-9000
Okparaeke, Nwakaego Ijeoma (Georgia)
JC-GA-0033-0002
Rosenberg, Steven E. (Georgia)
JC-GA-0033-9000

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