University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Jensen v. Klecker PC-ND-0002
Docket / Court 79-1124 ( D.N.D. )
State/Territory North Dakota
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
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 ... read more >
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

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Loss or damage to property
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) North Dakota State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description Inmates at the North Dakota State Penitentiary alleging their constitutional rights were violated in the way their mail was opened by prison officials
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1981 - n/a
Filed 1979
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
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
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 ]

No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Reported Opinion (599 F.2d 243)
PC-ND-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/14/1979
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (648 F.2d 1179)
PC-ND-0002-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/15/1981
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (702 F.2d 131)
PC-ND-0002-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/10/1983
Source: Google Scholar
show all people docs
Judges Fagg, George Gardner (Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
Henley, Jesse Smith (E.D. Ark., W.D. Ark., Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-ND-0002-0002 | PC-ND-0002-0003
Lay, Donald Pomery (Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-ND-0002-0001 | PC-ND-0002-0002 | PC-ND-0002-0003
McMillian, Theodore (Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
Ross, Donald Roe (Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
Stephenson, Roy Laverne (S.D. Iowa, Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Brady, Robert P. (North Dakota) show/hide docs
Zuern, Edwin F. (North Dakota) show/hide docs
PC-ND-0002-0001 | PC-ND-0002-0003

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