In July 2000, Prison Legal News filed this suit in the District of Nevada. PLN sued the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) under 42 U.S.C. §1983. PLN, represented by the ACLU National Prison Project, asked the court for declaratory and permanent injunctive relief, prohibiting NDOC from engaging in further unlawful censorship of books, magazines and other correspondence from PRISON LEGAL NEWS, as well as damages. PLN claimed that NDOC’s censorship of PLN’s speech violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. PLN asked the Court for injunctive and declaratory relief. Specifically, PLN claimed that NDOC censored Plaintiff’s written speech, including the journal "Prison Legal News," as well as books and other correspondence mailed by Plaintiff to NDOC prisoners in the State of Nevada.
In July 2000, PLN applied for a preliminary injunction in the District of Nevada to forbid officials of NDOC, formerly Nevada Department of Prisons from maintaining a blanket exclusion of Prison Legal News from Nevada Department of Prisons institutions. Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction was granted in August 2000.
On September 26, 2000, the parties stipulated to a judgment by the Court that all prisoners in the custody of NDOP shall be permitted to subscribe to the publications of their choice and shall receive all issues of those publications without interference with limited exceptions.
On June 28, 2013, PLN filed two motions: A motion alleging that NDOC was in violation of the Court’s 2000 Order, on the basis that PLN received substantiated reports of statewide censorship and rejection of PLN publications, without notice to the inmate-subscriber or PLN, the publisher; and a motion to substitute/update defendants.
On July 8, 2013, the Court [Judge Howard D. McKibben] granted PLN's motion for substitution of defendants: James Gregory Cox in his official capacity as Director of the NDOC, and E.K. McDaniel in his official capacity as Deputy Director of Operations for NDOC, were substituted for Defendants Jackie Crawford, Robert Bayer and John Slansky.
On July 16, 2013 this case was reassigned from Magistrate Judge Robert A McQuaid, Jr. to Magistrate Judge William G. Cobb.
On July 17, 2013, PLN filed a second amended complaint, adding the claim that NDOC was in violation of the Court's 2000 settlement agreement. Further, PLN sought to declare NDOC's policies banning return address labels and publications not from approved vendors or publishers, as well as its requirement that all books be sent using First Class, as unconstitutional on their face and as applied.
On January 14, 2016, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. As a result of this agreement, PLN agreed to the dismissal of this action with prejudice, holding the dismissal of claims in abeyance for ten years, for court-monitoring. The underlying 2000 Consent decree discussed in the Settlement Agreement would remain in force.
The January 2016 settlement required NDOC to take proactive steps to ensure compliance with the 2000 Consent decree, including: Reviewing of all incoming publications on a case-by-case basis, regardless of the identity of the publisher; Refraining from censoring/banning books, simply because the books' publishers are not on a list of approved vendors/publishers--such lists should be for the purposes of reference only and made available to a publisher or vendor on request. The settlement agreement also addresses issues of due process and requires NDOC to provide notice of censorship decisions and opportunity for appeal to both senders and receivers NDOC was given 60 days to implement these changes. The court continued to retain jurisdiction to enforce the consent decree.
On March 3, 2016, the Court [Judge Howard D. McKibben] dismissed this case without prejudice. The court approved and adopted the stipulation and addendum to the stipulation for dismissal of this action without prejudice. The court retained jurisdiction over this action to consider any motion to reopen the case to compel compliance with the terms of the stipulated settlement. Eoghan Keenan - 06/10/2005
Lakshmi Gopal - 05/15/2016