University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Prison Legal News v. County of Ventura JC-CA-0108
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-00773 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Attorney Organization Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld
Case Summary
This case was brought by the Prison Legal News (PLN) on behalf of prisoners and pre-trial detainees held in custody at Ventura County jails. PLN provides a monthly journal, informational brochures, and paperback books that all discuss issues involving the criminal justice system.

PLN ... read more >
This case was brought by the Prison Legal News (PLN) on behalf of prisoners and pre-trial detainees held in custody at Ventura County jails. PLN provides a monthly journal, informational brochures, and paperback books that all discuss issues involving the criminal justice system.

PLN alleged that the Ventura County jails' mail policies and practices unconstitutionally restrict PLN's correspondence with inmates. More specifically, PLN argued that the Ventura County jails' mail policies lacked clarity, failed to provide adequate notice to PLN, and did not give PLN the opportunity to challenge their policy as censorship.

This case arose after PLN made numerous attempts to contact inmates at Ventura County jails. PLN mailed materials to inmates held at Ventura County jails starting in February 2012, only for the materials to be returned to sender due to "suggestive" or "unacceptable ads inside." After further research, PLN discovered that Ventura County revised their written mail policies to specifically exclude PLN's materials from being delivered to inmates. The jail also had a postcard-only policy, under which postcards were the only acceptable form of incoming mail.

In February 2013, PLN filed a state tort claim against the defendant, but the defendant continued to exclude PLN's materials from being delivered to inmates irregardless of PLN's legal actions.

On January 31, 2014, PLN filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California under 42 U.S.C. §1983 arguing that the defendant's actions violated the inmates' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Represented by Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld, plaintiff asked for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. On June 16, 2014, Judge George H. King granted plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered defendants to suspend enforcement of their postcard-only policy. The court further ordered defendants to stop refusing to deliver correspondence to inmates on the basis of its subscription content, print medium, or sexually "suggestive" material. The defendants appealed this preliminary injunction to the Ninth Circuit on June 27, 2014.

While the matter was on appeal, the parties entered into settlement negotiations. After several weeks, the parties stipulated to dismiss certain defendants from the case, and on August 22, 2014, Judge King dismissed with prejudice all defendants except for the County of Ventura and the Sheriff of the Ventura County in the sheriff's official capacity.

On August 27, 2014, the plaintiff filed a stipulation for a permanent injunction, and the defendants moved to voluntarily dismiss their appeal pending in the Ninth Circuit. In response, on September 4, 2014, Judge King granted this permanent injunction whereby defendants were ordered to permanently abide by the terms of the earlier preliminary injunction. Additionally, defendants were ordered to not prohibit inmates from ordering books, magazines, and other publications. Finally, defendants were required to implement training procedures for mailroom staff and conduct annual legal updates. Additionally, as part of the settlement agreement, the county agreed to pay Prison Legal News $350,000 for damages, costs and fees.

Instead of continued monitoring by the court, Judge King ordered that the plaintiff was to notify the defendants of any violation of the injunction whereby a magistrate judge would determine any contested matters in binding arbitration. However, the court maintained jurisdiction over the settlement agreement until defendants file a motion to terminate, sometime after July 31, 2017. As of November 26, 2017, no further actions have been taken by either party, and so the case is presumably closed.

Megan Richardson - 06/09/2014
Elena Malik - 11/19/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Mail
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) County of Ventura
Plaintiff Description A non-profit legal journal aimed at public and prisoner education.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2014 - 2017
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Additional Resources
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  Bravo v. Board of Commissioners of Dona Ana County
http://www.bazelon.org/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

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

Docket(s)
2:14−cv−00773 (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0108-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Under the Civil Rights Act, 41 USC §1983 and Damages [ECF# 1]
JC-CA-0108-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/13/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reporter's Transcript of Motion for Preliminary Injunction
JC-CA-0108-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/19/2014
Source: Papers of Margo Schlanger
Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 51] (2014 WL 2736103) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0108-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/16/2014
Source: Papers of Margo Schlanger
Order Regarding Stipulated Permanent Injunction [ECF# 63] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0108-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/04/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Eick, Charles F. (C.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
JC-CA-0108-9000
King, George H. (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0108-0003 | JC-CA-0108-0004 | JC-CA-0108-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Galvan, Ernest (California)
JC-CA-0108-0001 | JC-CA-0108-9000
Thompson, Blake (California)
JC-CA-0108-9000
Vogel, Brian A. (California)
JC-CA-0108-0001 | JC-CA-0108-9000
Weber, Lance (Vermont)
JC-CA-0108-0001 | JC-CA-0108-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Held, Jeffrey (California)
JC-CA-0108-9000
Proctor, James N. (California)
JC-CA-0108-9000
Wisotsky, Alan E. (California)
JC-CA-0108-9000
Zepeda, Anthony Allen (California)
JC-CA-0108-9000

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