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Case Name Human Rights Defense Center v. Greene County JC-OH-0017
Docket / Court 3:17-cv-00381-TMR ( S.D. Ohio )
Additional Docket(s) 1:17-cv-00730-MRB  [ 17-730 ]  Southern District of OH (U.S.)
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Case Summary
On October 31, 2017, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The HRDC sued Greene County under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. HRDC sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as monetary damages and attorneys’ fees. They ... read more >
On October 31, 2017, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The HRDC sued Greene County under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. HRDC sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as monetary damages and attorneys’ fees. They claimed that the defendant violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights when it censored mail that HRDC sent to inmates at the Greene County Jail (GCJ). This case was referred to Judge Thomas M. Rose.

On the same day, HRDC filed a motion for preliminary injunction, requesting that Judge Rose prohibit the defendants from arbitrarily censoring plaintiff’s materials sent to prisoners housed in the GCJ. The plaintiff also requested that the court require the defendants to provide HRDC notice stating the reasons for any rejection of HRDC’s publications and an opportunity to be heard on the matter before finally rejecting any mail sent by HRDC. The plaintiff argued that their publications posed no threat to the safety and security of the facility and that the defendant’s policies and practices did not advance a legitimate penological objective.

On November 29, 2017, the HRDC and the defendants filed a settlement agreement resolving all injunctive claims raised in the complaint. In the settlement agreement, the defendants agreed that they would not censor nor refuse to deliver items mailed to prisoners at the GCJ since July 2017. It was also agreed that the defendant would deliver all mail sent after the settlement agreement if it was consistent with the defendants’ legitimate penological interests and express policy terms on publications and other materials sent to prisoners from publishers, book clubs, bookstores, or established vendors or distributors. The court was to retain jurisdiction over the enforcement of the settlement agreement, but the agreement did not state how long it would last. It was presumably permanent.

On March 7, 2018, Judge Rose ordered the parties to take part in a court conducted mediation supervised by Magistrate Judge Sharon L. Ovington to address the remaining monetary issues.

On July 13, 2018, the plaintiff moved to enforce the settlement agreement. According to the plaintiff's motion, the initial settlement agreement explicitly stated that the agreement addressed only the injunctive relief, and not monetary damages. The motion stated, "Defendants now disavow the enforceability of the executed Settlement Agreement because they profess that they were unaware that the agreement dealt solely with injunctive relief,
despite the plain and explicit terms of the agreement, and that regardless of its clear and express intent, they are not bound by the terms." The plaintiffs asked the court to retain jurisdiction over the earlier agreement and require the defendant's compliance.

Without ruling on the motion, Judge Rose reassigned the case to Magistrate Judge Michael J. Newman on August 28.

On October 11 2018, the parties filed a second settlement agreement. The parties agreed that the defendants denied any liability in this case. However, in order to avoid the burden of litigation, the parties agreed to a settlement as to the constitutional violations. Greene County agreed to pay HRDC a total of $45,000 in full and final settlement of all claims for damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. HRDC agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice, but the court retained jurisdiction for enforcement of the first and second settlements. One day later, Judge Ovington dismissed the case with prejudice, with the exception of the two settlement agreements.

The case is now closed.

Jake Parker - 05/24/2018
Dawn Lui - 10/21/2018


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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
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Mail
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Greene County
Plaintiff Description The Human Rights Defense Center is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of prisoner rights across the United States.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2018 - n/a
Filing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Prison Legal News Homepage
Prison Legal News
By: Prison Legal News
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:17-cv-381 (S.D. Ohio)
JC-OH-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/12/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Under the Civil Rights Act 42 U.S.C. §1983 and Damages [ECF# 1]
JC-OH-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/31/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 25]
JC-OH-0017-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/12/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Ovington, Sharon L. (S.D. Ohio) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-OH-0017-0002 | JC-OH-0017-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Johnson, Bruce E.H. (Washington) show/hide docs
JC-OH-0017-0001 | JC-OH-0017-9000
Marshall, Daniel (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-OH-0017-0001 | JC-OH-0017-9000
Mutamba, Masimba (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-OH-0017-0001 | JC-OH-0017-9000
Neelakanta, Sabarish (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-OH-0017-0001 | JC-OH-0017-9000
Newman, Robert B. (Ohio) show/hide docs
JC-OH-0017-0001 | JC-OH-0017-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ellis, Elizabeth Anne (Ohio) show/hide docs
JC-OH-0017-9000
Hayden, Stephanie Renee (Ohio) show/hide docs
JC-OH-0017-9000

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