University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Lindell v. Frank PC-WI-0005
Docket / Court 02-C-21-C ( W.D. Wis. )
State/Territory Wisconsin
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Case Summary
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 ... read more >
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

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Law library access
Religious programs / policies
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Supermax Correctional Institution
Wisconsin Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmate challenging the 'publisher only' rule that prevented him from receiving newspaper clippings in jail without purchasing the entire publication from its original source.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2004 - n/a
Filed 2002
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

02-21 (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/06/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order [Re: Requests to Proceed In Forma Pauperis] (2002 WL 32349409 / 2002 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 27103) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/28/2002
Opinion & Order [Re: S/J; Injunctions] (2003 WL 23198509 / 2003 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 24623) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/05/2003
Order [Amending 05/05/2003 Order] (2003 WL 23120001) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/07/2003
Order [Denying Defendants' Motion to Amend] (2003 WL 23100272 / 2003 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 25991) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/30/2003
Memorandum [Re: Motion from a Non-Party] (2003 WL 23282513) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/27/2003
Order [Granting Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis] (2003 WL 23198510) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/11/2003
Opinion and Order [Denying Motion to Stay Pending Appeal] (2003 WL 23198184) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/25/2003
Order [Denying Motion for Finding of Contempt] (2003 WL 23167276) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/31/2003
Order [Denying Second Motion to Hold Defendants in Contempt] (2004 WL 230996 / 2004 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 1568) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/02/2004
Opinion [Vacating and Remanding] (377 F.3d 655)
PC-WI-0005-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/19/2004
Source: Google Scholar
Order [Reopening Case; Enjoining Enforcement of the "Publisher's Only" Rule] (2004 WL 1920713 / 2004 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 17059) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/23/2004
Order [Denying Motion to Amend Injunction] (2004 WL 2110748) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/16/2004
Order [Denying Motion to Amend the Injunction] (2004 WL 2830662 / 2004 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 24853) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/07/2004
Order [Denying Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis] (2004 WL 3053630) (W.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0005-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/27/2004
Memorandum Decision [Denying Cert.] (543 U.S. 1169)
PC-WI-0005-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/22/2005
Order [Affirming D.C. Dismissal of First Amendment Complaint] (135 Fed.Appx. 876)
PC-WI-0005-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/09/2005
Source: Google Scholar
Untitled (548 U.S. 925)
PC-WI-0005-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/30/2006
Source: Westlaw
show all people docs
Judges Crabb, Barbara Brandriff (W.D. Wis.) show/hide docs
PC-WI-0005-0003 | PC-WI-0005-0004 | PC-WI-0005-0005 | PC-WI-0005-0006 | PC-WI-0005-0007 | PC-WI-0005-0009 | PC-WI-0005-0010 | PC-WI-0005-0011 | PC-WI-0005-0012 | PC-WI-0005-0013 | PC-WI-0005-0014 | PC-WI-0005-0015 | PC-WI-0005-0016 | PC-WI-0005-9000
Kanne, Michael Stephen (N.D. Ind., Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Ripple, Kenneth Francis (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Wood, Diane Pamela (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-WI-0005-0001 | PC-WI-0005-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Finkelmeyer, Corey F. (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
PC-WI-0005-0005 | PC-WI-0005-0006 | PC-WI-0005-0016
Schmelzer, Jody J. (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
PC-WI-0005-0001 | PC-WI-0005-0001 | PC-WI-0005-0002 | PC-WI-0005-0003 | PC-WI-0005-0004 | PC-WI-0005-0007 | PC-WI-0005-0009 | PC-WI-0005-0010 | PC-WI-0005-0011 | PC-WI-0005-0012 | PC-WI-0005-0013 | PC-WI-0005-0014 | PC-WI-0005-0015 | PC-WI-0005-9000

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