University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Prison Legal News v. Florida Department of Corrections PC-FL-0029
Docket / Court 4:12-cv-00239-MW-CAS ( N.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Florida Justice Institute
Case Summary
On November 17, 2011, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The plaintiff sued the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) Secretary in his official capacity, and GEO Group. Claiming ... read more >
On November 17, 2011, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The plaintiff sued the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) Secretary in his official capacity, and GEO Group. Claiming violations of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants illegally censored PLN’s news publications and books from prisoners. Represented by the Florida Justice Institute and the Human Rights Defense Center, the plaintiff sought monetary, declaratory and injunctive relief and attorney fees and costs. Judge Robert L. Hinkle was initially assigned to the case before it was reassigned to Judge Mark Walker on December 21, 2012.

In January 2012, the plaintiff filed its first amended complaint. All defendants subsequently moved to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. On June 7, 2012, the motions were denied. The defendants then filed their answers to the amended complaint.

In March 2012, the defendants moved to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The motion was granted and it was transferred on April 3, 2012. On April 12, 2012, PLN moved to transfer the case to the Tallahassee Division, and the court granted this request on May 9, 2012.

On October 10, 2012, the defendants each moved for summary judgment.

On January 29, 2013, the parties moved to dismiss the CCA and the Geo Group, as defendants without opposition because the parties had reached a private settlement agreement. The court approved this dismissal and retained jurisdiction over the private settlement agreement to ensure compliance. The lawsuit against the secretary of the FDOC remained.

The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on March 8, 2013. On August 11, 2014, after the court held hearings on the issue, it denied both motions for summary judgment. The case proceeded to trial.

January 5, 2015, began a four-day bench trial between PLN and FDOC. On October 5, 2015, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s First Amendment claims but ruled in favor of the plaintiff’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claims. 2015 WL 12911752. While it acknowledged that FDOC had valid security concerns regarding PLN’s publications, the court found that FDOC did not give the plaintiff proper notice before censoring those publications. Thus, the court prohibited FDOC from censoring the plaintiff’s written communication without due process of law. To ensure due process, the court ordered FDOC to give notice of future censorship of PLN’s publications.

PLN appealed the dismissal of the First Amendment claim. On May 17, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding that the district court had not abused its discretion. 2018 WL 2251249. Judges Edward Carnes (Chief Judge), Joel Dubina (Circuit Judge), and Anne Conway (US District Judge for the Middle District of Florida) were assigned to this appeal. In September of 2018, the plaintiff moved to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will hear the case.

Pending certification by the Supreme Court, the permanent injunction of providing notice is active against the FDOC, so the case is currently ongoing. The court retains jurisdiction to enforce the permanent injunction and rule on motions for attorneys’ fees.

Sean Whetstone - 06/12/2018
Anna Brito - 10/18/2018


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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
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Corrections Corporation of America
Florida Department of Corrections
GEO Group Inc.
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff, Prison Legal News, a publisher of a monthly magazine, Prison Legal News, and a distributor of books and other materials relating to the legal rights of prisoners and the conditions affecting prisoners. In this case, the plaintiff was represented by the Social Justice Law Collective and by the Human Rights Defense Center.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Florida Justice Institute
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Filing Year 2012
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)
4:12-cv-00239-MW-CAS (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0029-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-FL-0029-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/17/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 14]
PC-FL-0029-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/16/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying the Motions to Dismiss [ECF# 65] (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0029-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/07/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Order [ECF# 279] (2015 WL 12911752) (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0029-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/05/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals [Ct. of App. ECF# 92] (2018 WL 2251249)
PC-FL-0029-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Hinkle, Robert Lewis (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0029-0005
Stampelos, Charles A (N.D. Fla.) [Magistrate]
PC-FL-0029-9000
Walker, Mark Eaton (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0029-0003 | PC-FL-0029-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abudu, Nancy G (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Berg, Randall Challen Jr. (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-0001 | PC-FL-0029-0002 | PC-FL-0029-9000
Glickman, Joshua Aaron (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-0001 | PC-FL-0029-0002 | PC-FL-0029-9000
Heller, Shawn Alex (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-0001 | PC-FL-0029-0002 | PC-FL-0029-9000
Marshall, Randall C (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-0001 | PC-FL-0029-0002 | PC-FL-0029-9000
Neelakanta, Sabarish (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Stevenson, Benjamin James (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Trevisani, Dante Pasquale (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-0002 | PC-FL-0029-9000
Weber, Lance Theodore (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-0001 | PC-FL-0029-0002 | PC-FL-0029-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Adkins, Gwendolyn Palmer (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Garland, Cedell Ian (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Gellis, Sean William (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Graper, Marcus Owen (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Maher, Susan Adams (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Neff, Lance Eric (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Schifino, John Allen (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Seagle, Scott J. (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Stoler, Robert M. (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Thomas, Mary Bonanno (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Tietig, Lisa Kuhlman (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Waronicki, Brett Michael (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Other Lawyers Isani, Jamie Zysk (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000
Julin, Thomas R. (Florida)
PC-FL-0029-9000

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