University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Prison Legal News v. Federal Bureau of Prisons PC-CO-0025
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-02184 ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Case Summary
On October 1, 2015, Prison Legal News, a legal news magazine intended for inmates, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiff sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons claiming that the U.S. Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence (ADX) ... read more >
On October 1, 2015, Prison Legal News, a legal news magazine intended for inmates, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiff sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons claiming that the U.S. Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence (ADX) illegally censoring the magazine, violating the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, and Bureau of Prison regulations. Specifically, plaintiff claimed that the ADX did not deliver certain issues of Prison Legal News to ADX prisoners or give them proper notice that the magazine would not be delivered. Apparently, the BOP's refusal to deliver the magazine was because the issues contained information related to legal proceedings involving ADX prisoners and staff. Plaintiffs contended that the refusal to deliver these issues served no legitimate penological interest, and that the improper notices deprived prisoners of the opportunity to appeal administratively. Plaintiff was represented by Northwestern Law School's clinic and by private counsel; it sought injunctive and declaratory relief.

The case was assigned to Judge Raymond Moore.

On February 23, 2017, pursuant to ADX's motion to dismiss, the Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak recommended that the motion be denied. He found that there was neither constitutional mootness, nor prudential mootness. Judge Varholak also found there were plausible First Amendment, due process, and APA claims. ADX appealed the recommendation to the district court. The District Judge Moore rejected the recommendations on March 28, holding that there was in fact a mootness problem because "ADX fundamentally revised its official policies and procedures with respect to review of publications" after the suit was filed. The court further found that the plaintiff's previously rejected issues were reviewed and delivered to inmates, mooting the need for injunctive relief. The court found that because the policies had changed, the plaintiff's concern for enjoining future conduct was also mooted.

The plaintiff moved to vacate the judgment the next day, arguing that the judgment was entered before the plaintiff could respond to ADX's objections to the Magistrate Judge's recommendations. The court granted the motion on August 14, 2017, renewing its review of the recommendations and objections. Litigation is ongoing as of March 24, 2018.

Amanda Kenner - 01/22/2017
Virginia Weeks - 03/24/2018


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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 Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Bivens
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Federal Bureau of Prisons
Plaintiff Description Prison Legal News, a magazine, written by legal scholars, lawyers, and inmates describing legal proceedings affecting inmates.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  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 Faculty)
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
Book
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

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

Docket(s)
1:15−cv−02184−RM−NYW (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0025-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/23/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-CO-0025-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/01/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Recommendations of United States Magistrate Judge [ECF# 62] (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0025-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/23/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 71] (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0025-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 81] (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0025-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Moore, Raymond Paul (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0025-0003 | PC-CO-0025-0004 | PC-CO-0025-9000
Varholak, Scott T. Court not on record [Magistrate]
PC-CO-0025-0002 | PC-CO-0025-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fulham, Terra White (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0025-9000
Kiehl, Stephen William (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0025-9000
Mincberg, Elliot M. (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0025-0001
Mutamba, Masimba (Florida)
PC-CO-0025-9000
Neelakanta, Sabarish (Florida)
PC-CO-0025-0001 | PC-CO-0025-9000
Sandler, Alyson Rose (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0025-9000
Shapanka, Matthew S. (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0025-0001 | PC-CO-0025-9000
Shapiro, David M. (Illinois)
PC-CO-0025-0001 | PC-CO-0025-9000
Swanson, Peter Andrew (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0025-0001 | PC-CO-0025-9000
Weber, Lance (Florida)
PC-CO-0025-0001 | PC-CO-0025-9000
Weintraub, Addar (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0025-0001 | PC-CO-0025-9000
Zansberg, Steven David (Colorado)
PC-CO-0025-0001 | PC-CO-0025-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cook, Clay C. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0025-9000
Cook, Marcy Elizabeth (Colorado)
PC-CO-0025-9000
Prose, Susan Begesse (Colorado)
PC-CO-0025-9000
Turner, Kaitlin Brianne (Colorado)
PC-CO-0025-9000

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