Inmates of the North Dakota State Penitentiary brought suit as pro se plaintiffs under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota. Originally, five separate actions were filed but these were later consolidated into one comprehensive complaint. The consolidated ...
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Inmates of the North Dakota State Penitentiary brought suit as pro se plaintiffs under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota. Originally, five separate actions were filed but these were later consolidated into one comprehensive complaint. The consolidated complaint alleged that state prison officials refused to reimburse inmates for money earned through an inmate operated prison concession stand and that prison officials routinely opened inmates' incoming and outgoing mail. The inmates sought damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. The District Court (Judge Bruce M. Van Sickle) dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (per curiam) reversed and remanded the case, holding that reliance by the District Court upon an affidavit outside the pleadings without treating defendants' motion to dismiss the civil rights complaint as a motion for summary judgment and without giving plaintiffs notice of its intent to do so was prejudicial, even though plaintiffs were notified by a local rule to submit briefs in opposition to the motion within ten days. Jensen v. Klecker, 599 F.2d 243 (8th Cir. 1979). The Court of Appeals noted that the plaintiffs' attempt to refute the affidavit by ""exhibits"" (materials not presented to the District Court but filed on appeal) indicated that they might well have taken advantage of a meaningful opportunity to oppose the affidavit.
On remand, the District Court reviewed exhibits and affidavits submitted by the parties, and Judge Van Sickle granted summary judgment in favor of the prison officials. The Court of Appeals (per curiam) affirmed in part and reversed in part by holding that privileged prisoner mail (mailed to or from the inmate's attorney and identified as such) could not be opened for inspections for contraband except in the presence of the prisoner. Jensen v. Klecker, 648 F.2d 1179 (8th Cir. 1981). The Court of Appeals also held that the mere inspection of nonlegal incoming and outgoing mail posed no threat to the civil rights of the inmates.
In connection with the claim that his legal mail was being opened by prison officials, one of the inmates, Herbert O. Jensen, filed liens on the personal and real property of the defendant state prison officials to ""protect his rights."" The prison officials submitted a motion to remove the liens and requested the court to assess damages. The District Court ordered Jensen to release all the liens he had filed and prohibited him from filing further liens without court approval. The District Court denied the prison officials' motion for damages. The Court of Appeals (per curiam) affirmed the judgment of the District Court, finding that the Court had not abused its discretion. Jensen v. Klecker, 702 F.2d 131 (8th Cir. 1983).
The docket for this case was not available on PACER, and accordingly, we do not have further information on the case.Tom Madison - 04/08/2006