University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name In re Crawford PC-CA-0055
Docket / Court HCPB 10-5298 ( State Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On February 25, 2011, the plaintiff, a prisoner in the Pelican Bay State Prison, filed a habeas corpus petition in the California Superior Court of Del Norte County. He alleged that the prison had violated his First Amendment rights by confiscating a letter about political prisoners in California ... read more >
On February 25, 2011, the plaintiff, a prisoner in the Pelican Bay State Prison, filed a habeas corpus petition in the California Superior Court of Del Norte County. He alleged that the prison had violated his First Amendment rights by confiscating a letter about political prisoners in California prisons he attempted to send to a San Francisco newspaper. A prison official who was responsible for monitoring the mail intercepted the letter and determined that it promoted gang activity and was therefore contraband. The official who confiscated the letter testified that he believed that the letter contained coded messages for gang members. The plaintiff, however, claimed that his letter was purely political, and argued that the confiscation of the letter did not “further the penological interests of prison security” but instead was an unconstitutional violation of his First Amendment rights.

The plaintiff first filed a grievance with the prison authorities. The warden refused to release the letter, so the plaintiff sought a Director’s Level Appeal Decision. The director affirmed the confiscation decision. After that, the plaintiff filed a pro se habeas petition in superior court. The case was assigned to Judge Robert Weir, who summarily denied the petition. The prisoner then filed a new petition in the court of appeals (No. A131276).

On May 4, 2011, the appellate court ordered the warden to show cause for the confiscation and, in the interim, ordered that the plaintiff should have a lawyer assigned.

Oral argument was set for May 16, 2012, and on June 4, 2012, the appellate court granted the plaintiff’s habeas petition, ordering the prison to return the letter. 2016 Cal. App. 4th 1259. The defendant appealed to the California Supreme Court, but the appeal was denied on August 19, 2012, and the case was marked closed on August 24.

Elizabeth Helpling - 03/12/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Corrections
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Warden of the Pelican Bay State Prison
Plaintiff Description Prisoner at the Pelican Bay State Prison who had a letter confiscated by prison officials
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Habeas relief
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 2010
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
State Court of Appeals
06/04/2012
[Opinion granting relief] (206 Cal.App.4th 1259)
PC-CA-0055-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: State Court Website
show all people docs
Judges Lambden, James R. (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0055-0001

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -