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Case Name Smith v. Maschner PC-KS-0003
Docket / Court 3:84-cv-03283-DES ( D. Kan. )
State/Territory Kansas
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Inmates at "A" cellhouse at the Kansas State Penitentiary filed a civil rights lawsuit in state court against officials at the Kansas State penitentiary, complaining of a denial of adequate access to the prison law library. The parties entered into a consent decree on August 19, 1985, granting the ... read more >
Inmates at "A" cellhouse at the Kansas State Penitentiary filed a civil rights lawsuit in state court against officials at the Kansas State penitentiary, complaining of a denial of adequate access to the prison law library. The parties entered into a consent decree on August 19, 1985, granting the plaintiffs more access to the law library and supplementing the materials of the law library. The trial court's order specifically allowed the plaintiff inmates to use the prison law library on Saturday mornings and gaining access to hardbound volumes of federal cases.

On November 21, 1985, the plaintiff inmates filed a motion to reopen the case, citing various allegations against the State concerning access to legal materials. The parties agreed on all disputed issues except which inmates should be allowed to use the law library on Saturday mornings. The trial court (Judge Maurice P. O'Keefe, Jr.) issued a ruling on March 25, 1986, holding that Saturday morning library privileges were reserved for general population inmates, and since the inmates in cellhouse "A" were part of the general population, they were entitled to use the library on Saturday mornings, but only for one hour (with "working inmates" being granted two hours).

The defendants appealed, and the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the consent decree was in effect a contract, and the decree contained no provisions about Saturday morning library privileges. Petition for review by the Kansas Supreme Court was denied on December 19, 1986.

The inmates then sought to have the entire consent decree set aside based on fraud, and Judge O'Keefe denied this motion, holding that there was no evidence of fraud. Judge O'Keefe also found that the consent decree was ambiguous on the question of Saturday morning access to libraries and what volumes of the federal series were to be hardbound. Based on these findings, the trial court ordered on April 23, 1987, that the cellhouse "A" inmates to have Saturday privileges and the federal series was to be kept in hardbound volumes.

On appeal, the Kansas Court of Appeals on August 19, 1988, again reversed, holding that its previous decision made clear that the questions of Saturday morning library privileges and hardbound federal volumes were at the discretion of the prison officials, according to the consent decree. Smith v. Maschner, 760 P.2d 49 (Kan. Ct. App. 1988) (per curiam).

All of the information we have on the state court portion of the case comes from the August 19, 1988 Court of Appeals opinion.

In 1984, the case was removed to the District Court for the District of Kansas. Amended complaints were filed in April 1985 and August 1986. On Sept. 30, 1988, the court (Judge Dale E. Saffels) denied plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. An appeal was taken. On March 29, 1990, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Seymour) affirmed in part and reversed in part. Smith v. Maschner, 899 F.2d 940 (10th Cir. 1990). The court held that: (1) the inmate had adequate state postdeprivation remedies for his claims that he was deprived of property without due process; (2) the prison regulation of incoming correspondence did not violate any protected rights; (3) the inmate received adequate notice of charges, opportunity to respond, and written findings; (4) factual issues existed on the inmate's claim that he was deprived of procedural due process by virtue of the denial of a request to call a witness; and (5) factual issues existed on the inmate's claim that officials retaliated against him for exercising his right of access to court. The case was remanded back to the District Court.

In 1991, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge John C. Tillotson. In 1994 the court appointed counsel for the plaintiff. On Jan. 11, 1996, the court (Judge Dale E. Saffels) denied motions by both parties for summary judgment. A stipulation of dismissal was filed on August 23, 1996 and was entered by the court (Judge Saffels) on September 5, dismissing the case wtih prejudice.

David Terry - 10/07/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Law library access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Kansas State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description Inmate claiming that he was deprived of property without due process, that prison officials interfered with his mail, that he was denied procedural due process in disciplinary hearings, and that officials retaliated against him
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1985 - n/a
Filed 1984
Case Closing Year 1996
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
84-03283 (D. Kan.)
PC-KS-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/21/2000
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion (760 P.2d 49)
PC-KS-0003-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/19/1988
Memorandum and Order (1988 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 11238) (D. Kan.)
PC-KS-0003-0004.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/30/1988
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion (899 F.2d 940)
PC-KS-0003-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/29/1990
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order (915 F.Supp. 263) (D. Kan.)
PC-KS-0003-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/11/1996
Source: Google Scholar
show all people docs
Judges Baldock, Bobby Ray (FISCR, D.N.M., Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
Logan, James Kenneth (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
Saffels, Dale Emerson (D. Kan.) show/hide docs
PC-KS-0003-0002 | PC-KS-0003-0004 | PC-KS-0003-9000
Seymour, Margaret B. (D.S.C.) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kessler, Stephen W. (Kansas) show/hide docs
PC-KS-0003-0002 | PC-KS-0003-9000
Smith, Jerry Wayne (Minnesota) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Appel, Linden (Kansas) show/hide docs
Bonebrake, Carol R. (Kansas) show/hide docs
Bork, John K (Kansas) show/hide docs
Cowger, Larry (Kansas) show/hide docs
Dowell, John R. (Kansas) show/hide docs
Fleenor, Jon P. (Kansas) show/hide docs
PC-KS-0003-0002 | PC-KS-0003-9000
Hiebert, Kristy L. (Kansas) show/hide docs
Logback, Lawrence J. (Kansas) show/hide docs
Stephan, Robert T. (Kansas) show/hide docs

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