On January 17, 2002, a prisoner confined at the Supermax Correctional Institution (Supermax) in Boscobel, Wisconsin, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin against employees of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and Supermax. The plaintiff claimed that prison rules and practices violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1. The plaintiff sought monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief.
Supermax prisoners were allowed to buy writing paper from the prison canteen, but could not keep paper mailed to them by friends and family. In addition, the prison refused to mail gang-related letters and envelopes with writing on the outside. Prisoners at Supermax could not receive mail containing newspaper and magazine clippings or photocopies unless they were sent by the publisher (the publisher-only rule). The prison also limited the number of picture postcards inmates could keep in their cells. As part of an incentive program, corrections officers limited prisoners' phone calls in duration and number. The plaintiff also alleged that prison officials had denied him access to the law library and retaliated against him for being litigious.
On May 28, 2002, the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Judge Barbara B. Crabb) ruled that the plaintiff could proceed to litigate most of his claims, but dismissed the First Amendment postcard claim. Lindell v. Litscher, No. 02-C-21-C, 2002 WL 32349409 (W.D. Wis. May 28, 2002). On September 18, 2002, the court refused to certify a class; the suit proceeded as an individual claim.
On May 5, 2003, the court (Judge Crabb) held that Supermax's publisher-only rule violated the First Amendment because inmates had no other way to exercise their rights, but granted the State summary judgment on all other issues. Lindell v. Frank, 2003 WL 23198509 (W.D. Wis. May 5, 2003). The court granted an injunction, enjoining the State from enforcing the publisher-only rule. On May 7, 2003, the court clarified that the injunction allowed the prison to limit the quantity of clippings and copies received by inmates. Lindell v. Frank, 2003 WL 23120001 (W.D. Wis. May 7, 2003), reconsideration denied, 2003 WL 231200272 (W.D. Wis. May 30, 2003), stay pending appeal denied, 2003 WL 23198184 (W.D. Wis. Aug. 25, 2003).
On August 13, 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Judge Diane P. Wood) affirmed the lower court's ruling, holding both that the publisher-only rule violated inmates' First Amendment rights and that injunctive relief was the appropriate remedy. Lindell v. Frank, 377 F.3d 655 (7th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 542 U.S. 1169 (2005). However, the Seventh Circuit remanded the injunction for modification because it violated the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A), by being too broad. The Court of Appeals also ordered the lower to permit the plaintiff to proceed on the postcard claim because a material question of fact existed.
On August 23, 2004, the District Court (Judge Crabb) granted the plaintiff leave to pursue the First Amendment postcard claim and narrowed the injunction to apply only to the plaintiff. Lindell v. Frank, 2004 WL 1920713 (W.D. Wis. Aug. 23, 2004). On September 16, 2004, the court stayed the modified injunction to allow the plaintiff to petition the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit for rehearing en banc. Lindell v. Frank, 2004 WL 2110749 (W.D. Wis. 2004). On October 28, 2004, the court (Judge Crabb) dismissed the postcard claim; the plaintiff appealed.
The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit refused to rehear the plaintiff's appeal. Because the plaintiff was seeking en banc review of the Seventh Circuit decision directing those modifications, however, on September 16, 2004, the court (Judge Crabb) lifted the stay and refused to modify the injunction to permit the plaintiff to receive an unlimited quantity of clippings and photocopies. The court held that prison officials could legitimately limit the quantity of such documents received by an inmate. Lindell v. Frank, 2004 WL 2110748 (W.D. Wis. Sept. 16, 2004).
On June 9, 2005, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the plaintiff's First Amendment postcard claim for lack of exhaustion as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Lindell v. Frank, 135 Fed. Appx. 867 (7th Cir. 2005). The Seventh Circuit also affirmed the terms of the modified injunction.
The court denied several contempt motions on various grounds. Lindell v. Frank, 2003 WL 23282513 (W.D. Wis. July 27, 2003), 2003 WL 23167276 (W.D. Wis. Dec. 31, 2003), 2004 WL 230996 (W.D. Wis. Feb. 2, 2004). In addition, two orders dealt with in forma pauperis status. Lindell v. Frank, 2004 WL 3053630 (W.D. Wis. Dec. 27, 2004) and Lindell v. Frank, 2003 WL 23198510 (W.D. Wis. July 11, 2003).
The plaintiffs sought Supreme Court review, and on June 30, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review. Lindell v. O'Donnell, 165 L.Ed.2d 987 (2006).Kristen Sagar - 10/20/2007