University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Prison Legal News v. Clarke PC-MA-0034
Docket / Court 1:08-cv-10677-RGS ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Prison Legal News
Case Summary
On April 23, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiff sued the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Represented by private counsel, PLN sought monetary and injunctive relief, ... read more >
On April 23, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiff sued the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Represented by private counsel, PLN sought monetary and injunctive relief, including attorneys fees. Specifically, the complaint alleged that DOC violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments by not listing PLN as an approved vendor and by refusing to deliver PLN publications to prisoners.

PLN is a news organization that publishes content specifically for the prison population. It publishes a monthly magazine called Prison Legal News and also distributes to inmates books and other materials concerning the legal rights of prisoners. The magazine consists of articles from legal scholars, attorneys, inmates and from the wire services. The plaintiff maintained that from 1998 to 2003, Massachusetts DOC ordered and received PLN publications largely without incident. However, the plaintiff alleged that in 2003, the DOC began refusing to deliver PLN materials -- without any process to challenge the DOC's actions. The plaintiff further claimed that DOC lacked clear guidelines for approving book/magazine vendors at its institutions.

After discovery, on May 12, 2009, the case was dismissed after the parties reached an out-of-court settlement.

Pursuant to the settlement: (1) DOC agreed to pay PLN $5,000 (a figure that includes attorneys fees and costs). (2) DOC agreed to allow PLN to distribute its publications as long as it complied with its "inmate mail" regulations. (3) DOC agreed to provide general notice to all of its inmates that they may order and receive publications from PLN. (4) DOC agreed to notify PLN in writing if any publication sent by PLN is received at the institution but not delivered to the inmate.

Greg Margolis - 02/13/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Law library access
Library (non-law) access
Mail
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Massachusetts Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Prison Legal News
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2009 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Cruel Confinement: Abuse, Discrimination and Death Within Alabama's Prisons
Date: Jun. 4, 2014
(Southern Poverty Law Center )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
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
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

  Prison Legal News Homepage
Prison Legal News
By: Prison Legal News
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:08-cv-10677-RGS (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0034-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/29/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-MA-0034-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 20]
PC-MA-0034-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Lawyers Friedman, Howard (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0034-0001 | PC-MA-0034-9000
Milton, David (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0034-0001 | PC-MA-0034-0002 | PC-MA-0034-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Anahory, Kevin A. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0034-0002 | PC-MA-0034-9000

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