Free Web Hosting Provider - Web Hosting - E-commerce - High Speed Internet - Free Web Page
Search the Web

6302 May 5, 2004 (12:55am).

Equal Access to filing fee-built Law libraries

is denied to non-lawyers and prisoners all across America.

This deprivation is based on a case designed to expand prisoner rights, to wit:

BOUNDS v. SMITH, 430 U.S. 817 (1977)

This page is

Related pages:  

            Excellent short article by ACLU:  

            This is one of our 7 projects at

Bell v. Wolfish 441 U.S. 520 (1979) And

            See also: Wolfish case in 9th circuit

General navigational links: Telephone Lawyerdude: 805 652 0334

Email lawyerdude:

Instant message me: I am lawyerdude1989 on Yahoo.

I am dlawyedude on msn.

Lawyerdude’s most important page. My top 10 lists:

My home page:

Or my mirror site:

Please join Lawyerdude's discussion group::

Back to lawyerdude's briefs:

Back to Lawyerdude's Contemporary Constitutional Issues:

The Steve 762 program to fight traffic tickets:

List of all pages uploaded by me recently updated 27 June 03: Lawyerdude's links page: At , Judson Witham wrote: Christian County, Missouri, built a BRAND NEW so called Justice Center with very large sums of Taxpayer Money. BUT ordinary Citizens are BARRED from using the Law Library Facilities ONLY OPEN to Lawyers ?

In the Jail at this Brand New Facility Pre-Trial detainees and those yet to be convicted HAVE AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT to presumption of innocense BUT they have a FARCE for Law Library Access and NO ACCESS to preparation materials. A dinosaur very OLD COMPUTER and ZERO Practice Treatises, Digests, Annotations, nor Paper, Pencil not even a CJS or a West Practice Series is available. The Dinosaur of a Computer is a BIG JOKE. The following is what the US Supreme Court Mandates that incarcerated individuals have a RIGHT TO (Entitlements Being Denied and Subverted in Christian County) It is my understanding that nearly ALL Missouri County Jails operate in a similar fashion. Please read on: ACLU knows Judson Witham is Right on these matters

Know Your Rights: Prison Law Libraries November 13, 2003 LAW LIBRARIES & ACCESS TO THE COURTS

The Right of Access to Courts

The Supreme Court, in 1977, held that prison officials must "assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." [1] Many courts have used this "either/or" approach [either adequate law libraries or assistance from people trained in the law] when determining if inmates have received adequate assistance. The Supreme Court and many lower courts have used a list prepared by the American Association of Law Library's Committee on Law Library Services to Prisoners to determine the adequacy of law libraries.[2]

The Sixth Circuit, in 1992, distinguished between a state's affirmative duty to provide a right of access to the courts and a state's duty not to interfere with such use. It decided that while a state may not interfere with access, it has no affirmative duty to assist.[3]

Narrowing the Scope of the Right of Access to Courts

A 1996 Supreme Court case[4] specified that a prisoner must show a denial of access to court, not a denial of access to a law library or legal assistance, in order to claim a denial of court access. Therefore, a prisoner must show that the inadequacies in the prison's library or assistance program "hindered his efforts to pursue a legal claim" and an "actual injury" resulted.[5] An "actual injury" occurs where the effort of a prisoner to pursue a non-frivolous legal claim was hindered or "has been frustrated or was being impeded."[6] For example, the Court clarified that if a prisoner's complaint is dismissed because the individual was unable to research pleading requirements or unable to file a complaint, a hindrance had occurred.[7]

Access can be impeded if detention personnel interfere with an inmate's ability to exhaust administrative remedies for non-frivolous claims as required by Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).[8] Some courts assume that only dismissal or inability to file satisfies the injury requirement.[9] Others assume the obstacles that interfere with the ability to present one's case effectively are actionable.[10] To establish injury, an inmate does not need to show that if he had been provided with adequate legal facilities he would have prevailed in a lawsuit.[11] He need only show that he was prevented "from litigating a non-frivolous case."[12]

While it is the courts' role to provide relief to prisoners who are in present or imminent danger, it is the job of the other branches of government to "shape the institutions of government in such fashion as to comply with the laws of the Constitution."[13] The roles between the branches briefly coincide when a court remedies an actual injury by directing changes in institutional organizations or procedures.

U.S. Supreme Court

BOUNDS v. SMITH, 430 U.S. 817 (1977)

Analysis by Lawyerdude:

Contents and Highlights:


Thurgood Marshall (who argued Brown v Board of Education as I recall ) delivered the opinion of the Court.




MR. JUSTICE STEWART, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, dissenting

Cases cited herein as precedent:

 Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 822 (1974) 1

Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15 (1971) 1

Bounds, Correction Commissioner, et. al. v Smith, et. al.

Certiorari to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th circuit.

The 4th circuit includes nothing but the stupid states: Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia

No. 75-915.

Argued November 1, 1976 Decided April 27, 1977

The fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts held to require prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law. Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15 . Pp. 821-833.

538 F.2d 541, affirmed.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 833. BURGER, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 833. STEWART, J., post, p. 836, and REHNQUIST, J., post, p. 837, filed dissenting opinions, in which BURGER, C. J., joined.

Jacob L. Safron, Special Deputy Attorney General of North Carolina, argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the brief was Rufus L. Edmisten, Attorney General.

Barry Nakell, by appointment of the Court, 425 U.S. 968 , argued the cause and filed a brief for respondents. *

 [ Footnote * ] Andrew P. Miller, Attorney General, and Alan Katz, Assistant Attorney General, filed a brief for the Commonwealth of Virginia as amicus curiae urging reversal.

Thurgood Marshall (who argued Brown v Board of Education as I recall ) delivered the opinion of the Court.

The issue in this case is whether States must protect the right of prisoners to access to the courts by providing them with law libraries or alternative sources of legal knowledge. In Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15 (1971), we held per curiam that such services are constitutionally mandated. Petitioners, officials of the State of North Carolina, ask us [430 U.S. 817, 818] to overrule that recent case, but for reasons explained below, we decline the invitation and reaffirm our previous decision.

 I Respondents are inmates incarcerated in correctional facilities of the Division of Prisons of the North Carolina Department of Correction. They filed three separate actions under 42 U.S.C. 1983, all eventually consolidated in the District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Respondents alleged, in pertinent part, that they were denied access to the courts in violation of their Fourteenth Amendment rights by the State's failure to provide legal research facilities. 1

The District Court granted respondents' motion for summary judgment on this claim, 2 finding that the sole prison library in the State was "severely inadequate" and that there was no other legal assistance available to inmates. It held on the basis of Younger v. Gilmore that respondents' rights to access to the courts and equal protection of the laws had been violated because there was "no indication of any assistance at the initial stage of preparation of writs and petitions." The court recognized, however, that determining the "appropriate relief to be ordered . . . presents a difficult problem," in view of North Carolina's decentralized prison system. 3 Rather than attempting "to dictate precisely what course the State should follow," the court "changed] the Department [430 U.S. 817, 819] of Correction with the task of devising a Constitutionally sound program" to assure inmate access to the courts. It left to the State the choice of what alternative would "most easily and economically" fulfill this duty, suggesting that a program to make available lawyers, law students, or public defenders might serve the purpose at least as well as the provision of law libraries. Supp. App. 12-13.

The State responded by proposing the establishment of seven libraries in institutions located across the State chosen so as to serve best all prison units. In addition, the State planned to set up smaller libraries in the Central Prison segregation unit and the Women's Prison. Under the plan, inmates desiring to use a library would request appointments. They would be given transportation and housing, if necessary, for a full day's library work. In addition to its collection of lawbooks, 4 each library would stock legal forms and writing paper and have typewriters and use of copying machines. The State proposed to train inmates as research assistants and typists to aid fellow prisoners. It was estimated that ultimately some 350 inmates per week could use the libraries, although inmates not facing court deadlines might have to wait three or four weeks for their turn at a library. Respondents [430 U.S. 817, 820] protested that the plan was totally inadequate and sought establishment of a library at every prison. 5

 The District Court rejected respondents' objections, finding the State's plan "both economically feasible and practicable," and one that, fairly and efficiently run, would "insure each inmate the time to prepare his petitions." 6 Id., at 19. Further briefing was ordered on whether the State was required to provide independent legal advisors for inmates in addition to the library facilities.

In its final decision, the District Court held that petitioners were not constitutionally required to provide legal assistance as well as libraries. It found that the library plan was sufficient [430 U.S. 817, 821] to give inmates reasonable access to the courts and that our decision in Ross v. Moffitt, 417 U.S. 600 (1974), while not directly in point, supported the State's claim that it need not furnish attorneys to bring habeas corpus and civil rights actions for prisoners.

After the District Court approved the library plan, the State submitted an application to the Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) for a grant to cover 90% of the cost of setting up the libraries and training a librarian and inmate clerks. The State represented to LEAA that the library project would benefit all inmates in the State by giving them "meaningful and effective access to the court[s] . . . . [The ultimate result . . . should be a diminution in the number of groundless petitions and complaints filed . . . . The inmate himself will be able to determine to a greater extent whether or not his rights have been violated" and judicial evaluation of the petitions will be facilitated. Brief for Respondents 3a.

Both sides appealed from those portions of the District Court orders adverse to them. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed in all respects save one. It found that the library plan denied women prisoners the same access rights as men to research facilities. Since there was no justification for this discrimination, the Court of Appeals ordered it eliminated. The State petitioned for review and we granted certiorari. 425 U.S. 910 (1976). 7 We affirm.

 II A. It is now established beyond doubt that prisoners have a constitutional right of access to the courts. This Court recognized that right more than 35 years ago when it struck down a regulation prohibiting state prisoners from filing petitions for habeas corpus unless they were found "`properly [430 U.S. 817, 822] drawn'" by the "`legal investigator'" for the parole board. Ex parte Hull, 312 U.S. 546 (1941). We held this violated the principle that "the state and its officers may not abridge or impair petitioner's right to apply to a federal court for a writ of habeas corpus." Id., at 549. See also Cochran v. Kansas, 316 U.S. 255 (1942).

More recent decisions have struck down restrictions and required remedial measures to insure that inmate access to the courts is adequate, effective, and meaningful. Thus, in order to prevent "effectively foreclosed access," indigent prisoners must be allowed to file appeals and habeas corpus petitions without payment of docket fees. Burns v. Ohio, 360 U.S. 252, 257 (1959); Smith v. Bennett, 365 U.S. 708 (1961). Because we recognized that "adequate and effective appellate review" is impossible without a trial transcript or adequate substitute, we held that States must provide trial records to inmates unable to buy them. Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 20 (1956). 8 Similarly, counsel must be appointed [430 U.S. 817, 823] to give indigent inmates "a meaningful appeal" from their convictions. Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353, 358 (1963).

Essentially the same standards of access were applied in Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483 (1969), which struck down a regulation prohibiting prisoners from assisting each other with habeas corpus applications and other legal matters. Since inmates had no alternative form of legal assistance available to them, we reasoned that this ban on jailhouse lawyers effectively prevented prisoners who were "unable themselves, with reasonable adequacy, to prepare their petitions," from challenging the legality of their confinements. Id., at 489. Johnson was unanimously extended to cover assistance in civil rights actions in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 577 -580 (1974). And even as it rejected a claim that indigent defendants have a constitutional right to appointed counsel for discretionary appeals, the Court reaffirmed that State must "assure the indigent defendant an adequate opportunity to present his claims fairly." Ross v. Moffitt, 417 U.S., at 616 . "[Meaningful access" to the courts is the touchstone. See id., at 611, 612, 615. 9

Petitioners contend, however, that this constitutional duty merely obliges States to allow inmate "writ writers" to function. They argue that under Johnson v. Avery, supra, as long as inmate communications on legal problems are not restricted, there is no further obligation to expend state funds to implement affirmatively the right of access. This argument misreads the cases.

In Johnson and Wolff v. McDonnell, supra, the issue was whether the access rights of ignorant and illiterate inmates were violated without adequate justification. Since these inmates were unable to present their own claims in writing to the courts, we held that their "constitutional right to help," [430 U.S. 817, 824] Johnson v. Avery, supra, at 502 (WHITE, J., dissenting), required at least allowing assistance from their literate fellows. But in so holding, we did not attempt to set forth the full breadth of the right of access. In McDonnell, for example, there was already an adequate law library in the prison. 10 The case was thus decided against a backdrop of availability of legal information to those inmates capable of using it. And in Johnson, although the petitioner originally requested lawbooks, see 393 U.S., at 484 , the Court did not reach the question, as it invalidated the regulation because of its effect on illiterate inmates. Neither case considered the question we face today and neither is inconsistent with requiring additional measures to assure meaningful access to inmates able to present their own cases. 11

Moreover, our decisions have consistently required States to shoulder affirmative obligations to assure all prisoners meaningful access to the courts. It is indisputable that indigent inmates must be provided at state expense with paper and pen to draft legal documents, with notarial services to [430 U.S. 817, 825] authenticate them, and with stamps to mail them. States must forgo collection of docket fees otherwise payable to the treasury and expend funds for transcripts. State expenditures are necessary to pay lawyers for indigent defendants at trial, Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963); Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25 (1972), and in appeals as of right, Douglas v. California, supra. 12 This is not to say that economic factors may not be considered, for example, in choosing the methods used to provide meaningful access. But the cost of protecting a constitutional right cannot justify its total denial. Thus, neither the availability of jailhouse lawyers nor the necessity for affirmative state action is dispositive of respondents' claims. The inquiry is rather whether law libraries or other forms of legal assistance are needed to give prisoners a reasonably adequate opportunity to present claimed violations of fundamental constitutional rights to the courts.

B. Although it is essentially true, as petitioners argue, 13 that a habeas corpus petition or civil rights complaint need only set forth facts giving rise to the cause of action, but see, Fed. Rules Civ. Proc. 8 (a) (1), (3), it hardly follows that a law library or other legal assistance is not essential to frame such documents. It would verge on incompetence for a lawyer to file an initial pleading without researching such issues as jurisdiction, venue, standing, exhaustion of remedies, proper parties plaintiff and defendant, and types of relief available. Most importantly, of course, a lawyer must know what the law is in order to determine whether a colorable claim exists, and if so, what facts are necessary to state a cause of action.

If a lawyer must perform such preliminary research, it is [430 U.S. 817, 826] no less vital for a pro se prisoner. 14 Indeed, despite the "less stringent standards" by which a pro se pleading is judged, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), it is often more important that a prisoner complaint set forth a nonfrivolous claim meeting all procedural prerequisites, since the court may pass on the complaint's sufficiency before allowing filing in forma pauperis and may dismiss the case if it is deemed frivolous. See 28 U.S.C. 1915. 15 Moreover, if the State files a response to a pro se pleading, it will undoubtedly contain seemingly authoritative citations. Without a library, an inmate will be unable to rebut the State's argument. It is not enough to answer that the court will evaluate the facts pleaded in light of the relevant law. Even the most dedicated trial judges are bound to overlook meritorious cases without the benefit of an adversary presentation. Cf. Gardner v. California, 393 U.S. 367, 369 -370 (1969). In fact, one of the consolidated cases here was initially dismissed by the same judge who later ruled for respondents, possibly because Younger v. Gilmore was not cited.

We reject the State's claim that inmates are "ill-equipped to use" "the tools of the trade of the legal profession," making libraries useless in assuring meaningful access. Brief for Petitioners 17. In the first place, the claim is inconsistent with the State's representations on its LEAA grant application, supra, at 821, and with its argument that access is adequately protected by allowing inmates to help each other with legal problems. More importantly, this Court's experience indicates that pro se petitioners are capable of using lawbooks to file cases raising claims that are serious and legitimate even [430 U.S. 817, 827] if ultimately unsuccessful. Finally, we note that if petitioners had any doubts about the efficacy of libraries, the District Court's initial decision left them free to choose another means of assuring access.

It is also argued that libraries or other forms of legal assistance are unnecessary to assure meaningful access in light of the Court's decision in Ross v. Moffitt. That case held that the right of prisoners to "an adequate opportunity to present [their] claims fairly," 417 U.S., at 616 , did not require appointment of counsel to file petitions for discretionary review in state courts or in this Court. Moffitt's rationale, however, supports the result we reach here. The decision in Moffitt noted that a court addressing a discretionary review petition is not primarily concerned with the correctness of the judgment below. Rather, review is generally granted only if a case raises an issue of significant public interest or jurisprudential importance or conflicts with controlling precedent. Id., at 615-617. Moffitt held that pro se applicants can present their claims adequately for appellate courts to decide whether these criteria are met because they have already had counsel for their initial appeals as of right. They are thus likely to have appellate briefs previously written on their behalf, trial transcripts, and often intermediate appellate court opinions to use in preparing petitions for further review. Id., at 615.

By contrast in this case, we are concerned in large part with original actions seeking new trials, release from confinement, or vindication of fundamental civil rights. Rather than presenting claims that have been passed on by two courts, they frequently raise heretofore unlitigated issues. As this Court has "constantly emphasized," habeas corpus and civil rights actions are of "fundamental importance . . . in our constitutional scheme" because they directly protect our most valued rights. Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S., at 485 ; Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S., at 579 . While applications for [430 U.S. 817, 828] discretionary review need only apprise an appellate court of a case's possible relevance to the development of the law, the prisoner petitions here are the first line of defense against constitutional violations. The need for new legal research or advice to make a meaningful initial presentation to a trial court in such a case is far greater than is required to file an adequate petition for discretionary review. 16

We hold, therefore, that the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law. 17

C. Our holding today is, of course, a reaffirmation of the result reached in Younger v. Gilmore. While Gilmore is not [430 U.S. 817, 829] a necessary element in the preceding analysis, its precedential weight strongly reinforces our decision. The substantive question presented in Gilmore was: "Does a state have an affirmative federal constitutional duty to furnish prison inmates with extensive law libraries or, alternatively, to provide inmates with professional or quasi-professional legal assistance?" Jurisdictional Statement 5, Brief for Appellants 4, in No. 70-9, O. T. 1971. This Court explicitly decided that question when it affirmed the judgment of the District Court in reliance on Johnson v. Avery. Cf. this Court's Rule 15 (c). The affirmative answer was given unanimously after full briefing and oral argument. Gilmore has been relied upon without question in our subsequent decisions. Cruz v. Hauck, 404 U.S. 59 (1971) (vacating and remanding for reconsideration in light of Gilmore a decision that legal materials need not be furnished to county jail inmates); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 321 (1972) (Gilmore cited approvingly in support of inmates' right of access to the courts); Chaffin v. Stynchcombe, 412 U.S. 17, 34 n. 22 (1973) (Gilmore cited approvingly as a decision "removing roadblocks and disincentives to appeal"). Most recently, in Wolff v. McDonnell, despite differences over other issues in the case, the Court unanimously reaffirmed that Gilmore requires prison officials "to provide indigent inmates with access to a reasonably adequate law library for preparation of legal actions." 418 U.S., at 578 -579.

Experience under the Gilmore decision suggests no reason to depart from it. Most States and the Federal Government have made impressive efforts to fulfill Gilmore's mandate by establishing law libraries, prison legal-assistance programs, or combinations of both. See Brief for Respondents, Ex. B. Correctional administrators have supported the programs and acknowledged their value. 18 Resources and support including [430 U.S. 817, 830] substantial funding from LEAA have come from many national organizations. 19

It should be noted that while adequate law libraries are one constitutionally acceptable method to assure meaningful access to the courts, our decision here, as in Gilmore, does not foreclose alternative means to achieve that goal. Nearly [430 U.S. 817, 831] half the States and the District of Columbia provide some degree of professional or quasi-professional legal assistance to prisoners. Brief for Respondents, Ex. B. Such programs take many imaginative forms and may have a number of advantages over libraries alone. Among the alternatives are the training of inmates as paralegal assistants to work under lawyers' supervision, the use of paraprofessionals and law students, either as volunteers or in formal clinical programs, the organization of volunteer attorneys through bar associations or other groups, the hiring of lawyers on a part-time consultant basis, and the use of full-time staff attorneys, working either in new prison legal assistance organizations or as part of public defender or legal services offices. 20 Legal services plans not only result in more efficient and skillful handling of prisoner cases, but also avoid the disciplinary problems associated with writ writers, see Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S., at 488 ; Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 421 -422 (1974). Independent legal advisors can mediate or resolve administratively many prisoner complaints that would otherwise burden the courts, and can convince inmates that other grievances against the prison or the legal system are ill-founded, thereby facilitating rehabilitation by assuring the inmate that he has not been treated unfairly. 21 It has [430 U.S. 817, 832] been estimated that as few as 500 full-time lawyers would be needed to serve the legal needs of the entire national prison population. 22 Nevertheless, a legal access program need not include any particular element we have discussed, and we encourage local experimentation. Any plan, however, must be evaluated as a whole to ascertain its compliance with constitutional standards. 23

 III Finally, petitioners urge us to reverse the decision below because federal courts should not "sit as co-administrators of state prisons," Brief for Petitioners 13, and because the District Court "exceeded its powers when it puts [sic] itself in the place of the [prison] administrators," id., at 14. While we have recognized that judicial restraint is often appropriate in prisoners' rights cases, we have also repeatedly held that this policy "cannot encompass any failure to take cognizance of valid constitutional claims." Procunier v. Martinez, supra, at 405.

Petitioners' hyperbolic claim is particularly inappropriate in this case, for the courts below scrupulously respected the limits on their role. The District Court initially held only that petitioners had violated the "fundamental constitutional guarantee," ibid., of access to the courts. It did not thereupon thrust itself into prison administration. Rather, it ordered petitioners themselves to devise a remedy for the violation, strongly suggesting that it would prefer a plan [430 U.S. 817, 833] providing trained legal advisors. Petitioners chose to establish law libraries, however, and their plan was approved with only minimal changes over the strong objections of respondents. Prison administrators thus exercised wide discretion within the bounds of constitutional requirements in this case.

The judgment is


 Footnotes [ Footnote 1 ] The complaints also alleged a number of other constitutional violations not relevant to the issue now before us.

[ Footnote 2 ] The District Court had originally granted summary judgment for the state officials in one of the three consolidated actions. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit appointed counsel and remanded that case with the suggestion that it be consolidated with the other two cases, then still pending in the District Court.

 [ Footnote 3 ] North Carolina's 13,000 inmates are housed in 77 prison units located in 67 counties. Sixty-five of these units hold fewer than 200 inmates. Brief for Petitioners 7 n. 3.

 [ Footnote 4 ] The State proposed inclusion of the following lawbooks:

North Carolina General Statutes

North Carolina Reports (1960-present)

North Carolina Court of Appeals Reports

Strong's North Carolina Index

North Carolina Rules of Court

United States Code Annotated: Title 18 Title 28 2241-2254 Title 28

Rules of Appellate Procedure Title 28

Rules of Civil Procedure

Title 42 1891-2010

Supreme Court Reporter (1960-present)

Federal 2d Reporter (1960-present) [430 U.S. 817, 820]

Federal Supplement (1960-present)

Black's Law Dictionary

Sokol: Federal Habeas Corpus

LaFave and Scott: Criminal Law Hornbook (2 copies)

Cohen: Legal Research

Criminal Law Reporter

Palmer: Constitutional Rights of Prisoners

This proposal adheres to a list approved as the minimum collection for prison law libraries by the American Correctional Association (ACA), American Bar Association (ABA), and the American Association of Law Libraries, except for the questionable omission of several treatises, Shepard's Citations, and local rules of court. See ACA, Guidelines for Legal Reference Service in Correctional Institutions: A Tool for Correctional Administrators 5-9 (2d ed. 1975) (hereafter ACA Guidelines); ABA Commission on Correctional Facilities and Services, Bar Association Support to Improve Correctional Services (BASICS), Offender Legal Services 29-30, 70-78 (rev. ed. 1976).

 [ Footnote 5 ] Respondents also contended that the libraries should contain additional legal materials, and they urged creation of a large central circulating library.

 [ Footnote 6 ] The District Court did order two changes in the plan: that extra copies of the U.S.C.A. Habeas Corpus and Civil Rights Act volumes be provided, and that no reporter advance sheets be discarded, so that the libraries would slowly build up duplicate sets. But the court found that most of the prison units were too small to require their own libraries, and that the cost of the additional books proposed by respondents would surpass their usefulness.

 [ Footnote 7 ] Respondents filed no cross-appeal and do not now question the library plan, nor do petitioners challenge the sex discrimination ruling.

 [ Footnote 8 ] See also Eskridge v. Washington Prison Bd., 357 U.S. 214 (1958) (provision of trial transcript may not be conditioned on approval of judge); Draper v. Washington, 372 U.S. 487 (1963) (same); Lane v. Brown, 372 U.S. 477 (1963) (public defender's approval may not be required to obtain coram nobis transcript); Rinaldi v. Yeager, 384 U.S. 305 (1966) (unconstitutional to require reimbursement for cost of trial transcript only from unsuccessful imprisoned defendants); Long v. District Court of Iowa, 385 U.S. 192 (1966) (State must provide transcript of post-conviction proceeding); Roberts v. LaVallee, 389 U.S. 40 (1967) (State must provide preliminary hearing transcript); Gardner v. California, 393 U.S. 367 (1969) (State must provide habeas corpus transcript); Williams v. Oklahoma City, 395 U.S. 458 (1969) (State must provide transcript of petty-offense trial); Mayer v. Chicago, 404 U.S. 189 (1971) (State must provide transcript of nonfelony trial). The only cases that have rejected indigent defendants' claims to transcripts have done so either because an adequate alternative was available but not used, Britt v. North Carolina, 404 U.S. 226 (1971), or because the request was plainly frivolous and a prior opportunity to obtain a transcript was waived, United States v. MacCollom, 426 U.S. 317 (1976).

 [ Footnote 9 ] The same standards were applied in United States v. MacCollom, supra.

 [ Footnote 10 ] The plaintiffs stipulated in the District Court to the general adequacy of the library, see McDonnell v. Wolff, 342 F. Supp. 616, 618, 629-630 (Neb. 1972), although they contested certain limitations on its use. Those claims were resolved by the lower courts. See id., at 619-622; 483 F.2d 1059, 1066 (CA8 1973); 418 U.S., at 543 n. 2.

 [ Footnote 11 ] Indeed, our decision is supported by the holding in Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1974), in a related right-of-access context. There the Court invalidated a California regulation barring law students and paraprofessionals employed by lawyers representing prisoners from seeing inmate clients. Id., at 419-422. We did so even though California has prison law libraries and permits inmate legal assistance, Gilmore v. Lynch, 319 F. Supp. 105, 107 n. 1 (ND Cal. 1970), aff'd sub nom. Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15 (1971). Even more significantly, the prisoners in question were actually represented by lawyers. Thus, despite the challenged regulation, the inmates were receiving more legal assistance than prisoners aided only by writ writers. Nevertheless, we found that the regulation "impermissibly burdened the right of access." 416 U.S., at 421 .

 [ Footnote 12 ] Cf. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), holding that States must treat prisoners' serious medical needs, a constitutional duty obviously requiring outlays for personnel and facilities.

 [ Footnote 13 ] Brief for Petitioners 16-17; Tr. of Oral Arg. 3-9, 11-12.

 [ Footnote 14 ] A source of current legal information would be particularly important so that prisoners could learn whether they have claims at all, as where new court decisions might apply retroactively to invalidate convictions.

 [ Footnote 15 ] The propriety of these practices is not before us. Courts may also impose additional burdens before appointing counsel for indigents in civil suits. See Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483, 487 -488 (1969).

 [ Footnote 16 ] Nor is United States v. MacCollom, 426 U.S. 317 (1976), inconsistent with our decision. That case held that in a post-conviction proceeding under 28 U.S.C. 2255, an applicant was not unconstitutionally deprived of access to the courts by denial of a transcript of his original trial pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 753 (f), where he had failed to take a direct appeal and thereby secure the transcript, where his newly asserted claim of error was frivolous, and where he demonstrated no need for the transcript. Without a library or legal assistance, however, inmates will not have "a current opportunity to present [their] claims fairly," 426 U.S., at 329 (BLACKMUN, J., concurring in judgment), and valid claims will undoubtedly be lost.

 [ Footnote 17 ] Since our main concern here is "protecting the ability of an inmate to prepare a petition or complaint," Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S., at 576 , it is irrelevant that North Carolina authorizes the expenditure of funds for appointment of counsel in some state post-conviction proceedings for prisoners whose claims survive initial review by the courts. See N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-451 (Supp. 1975); Brief for Petitioners 3 n. 1, 12 n. 8, 14 n. 9, and accompanying text; but cf. Ross v. Moffitt, 417 U.S. 600, 614 (1974). Moreover, this statute does not cover appointment of counsel in federal habeas corpus or state or federal civil rights actions, all of which are encompassed by the right of access. Similarly, the State's creation of an advisory Inmate Grievance Commission, see N.C. Gen. Stat. 148-101 et seq. (Supp. 1975); Brief for Petitioners 14, while certainly a noteworthy innovation, does not answer the constitutional requirement for legal assistance to prisoners.

 [ Footnote 18 ] Nearly 95% of the state corrections commissioners, prison wardens, and treatment directors responding to a national survey supported creation [430 U.S. 817, 830] and expansion of prison legal services. Cardarelli & Finkelstein, Correctional Administrators Assess the Adequacy and Impact of Prison Legal Services Programs in the United States, 65 J. Crim. L., C. & P. S. 91, 99 (1974). Almost 85% believed that the programs would not adversely affect discipline or security or increase hostility toward the institution. Rather, over 80% felt legal services provide a safety valve for inmate grievances, reduce inmate power structures and tensions from unresolved legal problems, and contribute to rehabilitation by providing a positive experience with the legal system. Id., at 95-98. See also ACA Guidelines, supra, n. 4; National Sheriffs' Assn., Inmates' Legal Rights, Standard 14, pp. 33-34 (1974); Bluth, Legal Services for Inmates: Coopting the Jailhouse Lawyer, 1 Capital U. L. Rev. 59, 61, 67 (1972); Sigler, A New Partnership in Corrections, 52 Neb. L. Rev. 35, 38 (1972).

 [ Footnote 19 ] See, e. g., U.S. Dept. of Justice, LEAA, A Compendium of Selected Criminal Justice Projects, III-201, IV-361-366 (1975); U.S. Dept. of Justice, LEAA, Grant 75 DF-99-0013, Consortium of States to Furnish Legal Counsel to Prisoners, Final Report, and Program Narrative (1975). The ABA BASICS program, see n. 4, supra, makes grants to state and local bar associations for prison legal services and libraries and publishes a complete technical assistance manual, Offender Legal Services (rev. ed. 1976). See also ABA Resource Center on Correctional Law and Legal Services, Providing Legal Services to Prisoners, 8 Ga. L. Rev. 363 (1974). The American Correctional Association publishes Guidelines for Legal Reference Service in Correctional Institutions (2d ed. 1975). The American Association of Law Libraries publishes O. Werner, Manual for Prison Law Libraries (1976), and its members offer assistance to prison law library personnel. See also ABA Joint Committee on the Legal Status of Prisoners, Standards Relating to the Legal Status of Prisoners, Standards 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and Commentary, 14 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 377, 420-443 (tent. draft 1977); National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, Uniform Corrections Code, 2-601 (tent. draft 1976); National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, Corrections 26-30, Standards 2.2, 2.3 (1973).

 [ Footnote 20 ] For example, full-time staff attorneys assisted by law students and a national back-up center were used by the Consortium of States to Furnish Legal Counsel to Prisoners, see n. 19, supra. State and local bar associations have established a number of legal services and library programs with support from the ABA BASICS program, see nn. 4 and 19, supra. Prisoners' Legal Services of New York plans to use 45 lawyers and legal assistants in seven offices to give comprehensive legal services to all state inmates. Offender Legal Services, supra, n. 19, at iv. Other programs are described in Providing Legal Services to Prisoners, supra, n. 19, at 399-416.

 [ Footnote 21 ] See Cardarelli & Finkelstein, supra, n. 18, at 96-99; LEAA Consortium Reports, supra, n. 19; Champagne & Haas, The Impact of Johnson v. Avery on Prison Administration, 43 Tenn. L. Rev. 275, 295-299 [430 U.S. 817, 832] (1976). Cf. 42 U.S.C. 2996 (4) (1970 ed., Supp. V), in which Congress, establishing the Legal Services Corp., declared that "for many of our citizens, the availability of legal services has reaffirmed faith in our government of laws."

 [ Footnote 22 ] ABA Joint Committee, supra, n. 19, at 428-429.

 [ Footnote 23 ] See, e. g., Stevenson v. Reed, 530 F.2d 1207 (CA5 1976), aff'g 391 F. Supp. 1375 (ND Miss. 1975); Bryan v. Werner, 516 F.2d 233 (CA3 1975); Gaglie v. Ulibarri, 507 F.2d 721 (CA9 1974); Corpus v. Estelle, 409 F. Supp. 1090 (SD Tex. 1975).

MR. JUSTICE POWELL, concurring.

The decision today recognizes that a prison inmate has a constitutional right of access to the courts to assert such procedural and substantive rights as may be available to him under state and federal law. It does not purport to pass on the kinds of claims that the Constitution requires state or federal courts to hear. In Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 577 -580 (1974), where we extended the right of access recognized in Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483 (1969), to civil rights actions arising under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, we did not suggest that the Constitution required such actions to be heard in federal court. And in Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12 (1956), where the Court required the States to provide trial records for indigents on appeal, the plurality and concurring opinions explicitly recognized that the Constitution does not require any appellate review of state convictions. Similarly, the holding here implies nothing as to the constitutionally required scope of review of prisoners' claims in state or federal court.

 With this understanding, I join the opinion of the Court.


I am in general agreement with MR. JUSTICE STEWART and MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST, and join in their opinions. I write only to emphasize the theoretical and practical difficulties raised by the Court's holding. The Court leaves us unenlightened as to the source of the "right of access to the courts" [430 U.S. 817, 834] which it perceives or of the requirement that States "foot the bill" for assuring such access for prisoners who want to act as legal researchers and brief writers. The holding, in my view, has far-reaching implications which I doubt have been fully analyzed or their consequences adequately assessed.

It should be noted, first, that the access to the courts which these respondents are seeking is not for the purpose of direct appellate review of their criminal convictions. Abundant access for such purposes has been guaranteed by our prior decisions, e. g., Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353 (1963), and Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12 (1956), and by the States independently. Rather, the underlying substantive right here is that of prisoners to mount collateral attacks on their state convictions. The Court is ordering the State to expend resources in support of the federally created right of collateral review.

This would be understandable if the federal right in question were constitutional in nature. For example, the State may be required by the Eighth Amendment to provide its inmates with food, shelter, and medical care, see Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 -104 (1976); similarly, an indigent defendant's right under the Sixth Amendment places upon the State the affirmative duty to provide him with counsel for trials which may result in deprivation of his liberty, Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25 (1972); finally, constitutional principles of due process and equal protection form the basis for the requirement that States expend resources in support of a convicted defendant's right to appeal. See Douglas v. California, supra; Griffin v. Illinois, supra.

However, where the federal right in question is of a statutory rather than a constitutional nature, the duty of the State is merely negative; it may not act in such a manner as to interfere with the individual exercise of such federal rights. E. g., Ex parte Hull, 312 U.S. 546 (1941) (State may not interfere with prisoner's access to the federal court by screening [430 U.S. 817, 835] petitions directed to the court); Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483 (1969) (State may not prohibit prisoners from providing to each other assistance in preparing petitions directed to the federal courts). Prohibiting the State from interfering with federal statutory rights is, however, materially different from requiring it to provide affirmative assistance for their exercise.

It is a novel and doubtful proposition, in my view, that the Federal Government can, by statute, give individuals certain rights and then require the State, as a constitutional matter, to fund the means for exercise of those rights. Cf. National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833 (1976).

As to the substantive right of state prisoners to collaterally attack in federal court their convictions entered by a state court of competent jurisdiction, it is now clear that there is no broad federal constitutional right to such collateral attack, see Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976); whatever right exists is solely a creation of federal statute, see Swain v. Pressley, ante, p. 384 (opinion of BURGER, C. J.); Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 250 , 252-256 (1973) (POWELL, J., concurring). But absent a federal constitutional right to attack convictions collaterally - and I discern no such right - I can find no basis on which a federal court may require States to fund costly law libraries for prison inmates. * Proper federal-state relations preclude such intervention in the "complex and intractable" problems of prison administration. Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1974).

I can draw only one of two conclusions from the Court's holding: it may be read as implying that the right of prisoners to collaterally attack their convictions is constitutional, rather than statutory, in nature; alternatively, it may be read as [430 U.S. 817, 836] holding that States can be compelled by federal courts to subsidize the exercise of federally created statutory rights. Neither of these novel propositions is sustainable and for the reasons stated I cannot adhere to either view and therefore dissent.

 [ Footnote * ] The record reflects that prison officials in no way interfered with inmates' use of their own resources in filing collateral attacks. Prison regulations permit access to inmate "writ writers" and each prisoner is entitled to store reasonable numbers of lawbooks in his cell.

MR. JUSTICE STEWART, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, dissenting.

In view of the importance of the writ of habeas corpus in our constitutional scheme, "it is fundamental that access of prisoners to the courts for the purpose of presenting their complaints may not be denied or obstructed.'" Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 578 , quoting Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483, 485 . From this basic principle the Court over five years ago made a quantum jump to the conclusion that a State has a constitutional obligation to provide law libraries for prisoners in its custody. Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15 .

Today the Court seeks to bridge the gap in analysis that made Gilmore's authority questionable. Despite the Court's valiant efforts, I find its reasoning unpersuasive.

If, as the Court says, there is a constitutional duty upon a State to provide its prisoners with "meaningful access" to the federal courts, that duty is not effectuated by adhering to the unexplained judgment in the Gilmore case. More than 20 years of experience with pro se habeas corpus petitions as a Member of this Court and as a Circuit Judge have convinced me that "meaningful access" to the federal courts can seldom be realistically advanced by the device of making law libraries available to prison inmates untutored in their use. In the vast majority of cases, access to a law library will, I am convinced, simply result in the filing of pleadings heavily larded with irrelevant legalisms - possessing the veneer but lacking the substance of professional competence.

If, on the other hand, MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST is correct in his belief that a convict in a state prison pursuant to a [430 U.S. 817, 837] final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction has no constitutional right of "meaningful access" to the federal courts in order to attack his sentence, then a State can be under no constitutional duty to make that access "meaningful." If the extent of the constitutional duty of a State is simply not to deny or obstruct a prisoner's access to the courts, Johnson v. Avery, supra, then it cannot have, even arguably, any affirmative constitutional obligation to provide law libraries for its prison inmates.

I respectfully dissent.

MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, dissenting.

The Court's opinion in this case serves the unusual purpose of supplying as good a line of reasoning as is available to support a two-paragraph per curiam opinion almost six years ago in Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15 (1971), which made no pretense of containing any reasoning at all. The Court's reasoning today appears to be that we have long held that prisoners have a "right of access" to the courts in order to file petitions for habeas corpus, and that subsequent decisions have expanded this concept into what the Court today describes as a "meaningful right of access." So, we are told, the right of a convicted prisoner to "meaningful access" extends to requiring the State to furnish such prisoners law libraries to aid them in piecing together complaints to be filed in the courts. This analysis places questions of prisoner access on a "slippery slope," and I would reject it because I believe that the early cases upon which the Court relies have a totally different rationale from that which underlies the present holding.

There is nothing in the United States Constitution which requires that a convict serving a term of imprisonment in a state penal institution pursuant to a final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction have a "right of access" to the federal courts in order to attack his sentence. In the first [430 U.S. 817, 838] case upon which the Court's opinion relies, Ex parte Hull, 312 U.S. 546 (1941), the Court held invalid a regulation of the Michigan State prison which provided that "`[all legal documents, briefs, petitions, motions, habeas corpus proceedings and appeals'" which prisoners wish to file in court had to be first submitted to the legal investigator of the state parole board. If the documents were, in the opinion of this official, "`properly drawn,'" they would be directed to the court designated. Hull was advised that his petition addressed to this Court had been "intercepted" and referred to the legal investigator for the reason that it was "deemed to be inadequate." This Court held that such a regulation was invalid, and said very clearly why:

 "Whether a petition for writ of habeas corpus addressed to a federal court is properly drawn and what allegations it must contain are questions for that court alone to determine." Id., at 549.

A number of succeeding cases have expanded on this barebones holding that an incarcerated prisoner has a right of physical access to a federal court in order to petition that court for relief which Congress has authorized it to grant. These cases, most of which are mentioned in the Court's opinion, begin with Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12 (1956), and culminate in United States v. MacCollom, 426 U.S. 317 (1976), decided last Term. Some, such as Griffin, supra, and Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353 (1963), appear to depend upon the principle that indigent convicts must be given a meaningful opportunity to pursue a state-created right to appeal, even though the pursuit of such a remedy requires that the State must provide a transcript or furnish counsel. Others, such as Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483 (1969), Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1974), and Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), depend on the principle that the State, having already incarcerated the convict and thereby virtually eliminated his contact with people outside the prison walls, [430 U.S. 817, 839] may not further limit contacts which would otherwise be permitted simply because such contacts would aid the incarcerated prisoner in preparation of a petition seeking judicial relief from the conditions or terms of his confinement. Clearly neither of these principles supports the Court's present holding: The prisoners here in question have all pursued all avenues of direct appeal available to them from their judgments of conviction, and North Carolina imposes no invidious regulations which allow visits from all persons except those knowledgeable in the law. All North Carolina has done in this case is to decline to expend public funds to make available law libraries to those who are incarcerated within its penitentiaries. If respondents' constitutional arguments were grounded on the Equal Protection Clause, and were in effect that rich prisoners could employ attorneys who could in turn consult law libraries and prepare petitions for habeas corpus, whereas indigent prisoners could not, they would have superficial appeal. See Griffin, supra; Douglas, supra. I believe that they would nonetheless fail under Ross v. Moffitt, 417 U.S. 600 (1974). There we held that although our earlier cases had required the State to provide meaningful access to state-created judicial remedies for indigents, the only right on direct appeal was that "indigents have an adequate opportunity to present their claims fairly within the adversary system." Id., at 612.

In any event, the Court's opinion today does not appear to proceed upon the guarantee of equal protection of the laws, a guarantee which at least has the merit of being found in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It proceeds instead to enunciate a "fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts," ante, at 828, which is found nowhere in the Constitution. But if a prisoner incarcerated pursuant to a final judgment of conviction is not prevented from physical access to the federal courts in order that he may file therein petitions for relief which Congress has authorized those courts [430 U.S. 817, 840] to grant, he has been accorded the only constitutional right of access to the courts that our cases have articulated in a reasoned way. Ex parte Hull, supra. Respondents here make no additional claims that prison regulations invidiously deny them access to those with knowledge of the law so that such regulations would be inconsistent with Johnson, supra, Procunier, supra, and Wolff, supra. Since none of these reasons is present here, the "fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts" which the Court announces today is created virtually out of whole cloth with little or no reference to the Constitution from which it is supposed to be derived.

Our decisions have recognized on more than one occasion that lawful imprisonment properly results in a "retraction [of rights] justified by the considerations underlying our penal system." Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266, 285 (1948); Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 822 (1974). A convicted prisoner who has exhausted his avenues of direct appeal is no longer to be accorded every presumption of innocence, and his former constitutional liberties may be substantially restricted by the exigencies of the incarceration in which he has been placed. See Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215 (1976). Where we come to the point where the prisoner is seeking to collaterally attack a final judgment of conviction, the right of physical access to the federal courts is essential because of the congressional provisions for federal habeas review of state convictions. Ex parte Hull, supra. And the furnishing of a transcript to an indigent who makes a showing of probable cause, in order that he may have any realistic chance of asserting his right to such review, was upheld in United States v. MacCollom, supra. We held in Ross v. Moffitt, supra, that the Douglas holding of a right to counsel on a first direct appeal as of right would not be extended to a discretionary second appeal from an intermediate state appellate court to the state court of last resort, or from the state court of last resort to this Court. It would seem, a fortiori, to follow from that case that an [430 U.S. 817, 841] incarcerated prisoner who has pursued all his avenues of direct review would have no constitutional right whatever to state appointed counsel to represent him in a collateral attack on his conviction, and none of our cases has ever suggested that a prisoner would have such a right. See Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S., at 488 . Yet this is the logical destination of the Court's reasoning today. If "meaningful access" to the courts is to include law libraries, there is no convincing reason why it should not also include lawyers appointed at the expense of the State. Just as a library may assist some inmates in filing papers which contain more than the bare factual allegations of injustice, appointment of counsel would assure that the legal arguments advanced are made with some degree of sophistication.

I do not believe anything in the Constitution requires this result, although state and federal penal institutions might as a matter of policy think it wise to implement such a program. I conclude by indicating the same respect for Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15 (1971), as has the Court, in relegating it to a final section set apart from the body of the Court's reasoning. Younger supports the result reached by the Court of Appeals in this case, but it is a two-paragraph opinion which is most notable for the unbridged distance between its premise and its conclusion. The Court's opinion today at least makes a reasoned defense of the result which it reaches, but I am not persuaded by those reasons. Because of that fact I would not have the slightest reluctance to overrule Younger and reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals in this case.

 [430 U.S. 817, 1]

ATTENTION JOEY MATLOCK and the Christian County Jail Staff, Prosecutors, Judges and the State Highway Patrol Read On.

Hello Jail Medical Staff

Court Approves Settlement of ACLU Lawsuit to Improve Conditions at County Jail in Washington State January 28, 2004 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TACOMA, WA -- Judge Ronald Leighton of U.S. District Court has approved a settlement agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union and Jefferson County officials to improve conditions for inmates at the Jefferson County Jail in Port Hadlock on the Olympic Peninsula, the ACLU announced today.

The agreement resolves a class-action lawsuit over inhumane conditions for prisoners filed by the ACLU of Washington and the ACLU's National Prison Project in February 2002.

"The settlement will mean substantial improvements to what had been inhumane treatment of inmates. We congratulate County officials for their commitment to upgrade conditions at the Jail," said ACLU of Washington Legal Program Director Julya Hampton.

The terms of the settlement address a range of deficiencies in the jail's treatment of the people it houses, including the following:

Health Care: The jail's health care program was disorganized and understaffed. Prisoners who requested medical help were often not seen by licensed health care professionals, and untrained jail staff often made medical decisions for the prisoners. Jail staff frequently denied necessary medication, leading to seizures or hospitalization that could have been avoided.

Under the settlement, the jail will implement health care policies and practices that will enable it to qualify for accreditation by the National Council on Correctional Health Care, a nonprofit organization that sets standards in the area.

Sanitation: Prisoners were not provided enough basic hygiene supplies, such as toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. Prisoners have been forced to use makeshift replacements, such as pages from telephone books, towels, or paper bags.

Under the settlement, the jail will keep an adequate supply of toilet paper and sanitary napkins on hand and will deliver them to inmates whenever needed.

Use of Crisis Cell: Some of the worst abuses in the jail involved use of the "crisis cell," a bare concrete room with a hole in the floor for a toilet. Although such cells are designed only for prisoners who pose a danger to themselves or others, the jail used it for discipline for routine infractions and to terrorize prisoners. The cell was not adequately monitored, leading to a prisoner death in the cell in March 2001.

Under the settlement, the crisis cell will not be used as discipline for infractions or misbehavior. Theorists cell may only be used to house: (1) inmates who show evidence of being a risk of harm to themselves, to others, or to jail property; (2) inmates who require medical or psychiatric supervision; or (3)inmates who are intoxicated. Health care provider swill be called when an inmate is placed in the crisis cell for medical or psychiatric reasons.

Temperature: Climate control had been inadequate, often leading to extreme cold conditions in winter and extreme heat conditions in the summer. The jail didn’t provide adequate blankets or cold-weather clothing.

Under the settlement, all inmate areas of the jail will be kept between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Inmates in cells with exterior walls will be entitled to receive up to two extra blankets.

Grievances: The jail had no functioning grievance policy to allow prisoners to seek internal corrections. Prisoners had to request grievance forms from guards, who would refuse to provide them if the prisoner intended to complain about the guard. All written communication between prisoners and guards was on scraps of paper that guards sometimes threw away without response.

Under the settlement, grievance forms, medical request forms, and regular request forms will be made available in each cell block. All written grievance swill receive written replies within seven days. Jail staff will not retaliate against or deny privileges to any inmate for expressing grievances.

Mail: Under the settlement, mail may not be delayed or denied as a disciplinary measure. The rules forbidding receipt of outside books, magazines, or material printed from the Internet are rescinded.

The agreement will be enforced by independent outside monitors who will visit the jail at six-month intervals for three years and report on the Jail’s compliance with the agreement.

In the 1990s, the ACLU successfully pursued litigation over substandard conditions at the King County Jail, Pierce County Jail, and Washington Corrections Center for Women at Purdy. Staff attorney Aaron Caplan of the ACLU of Washington and staff attorney David Fathi of the ACLU's National Prison Project handled the case.

The county will pay $82,500 in attorneys' fees and costs to the ACLU for its work leading up to the settlement in today's case.____________________________________________________ To: lee@p... CC: rslight@n..., jamesw@w..., martyn7788@y...,, quig@d...,justice96@m..., marc@p...,,,catherine@s..., ed44@s...,jeffandmary@o...,thecatbird@t...,president@a...,mburns8@c..., FrankButash@e...,Judgewatch@a..., preacherman35@J...,afscinfo@a..., jurisnot@y...

Subject: RE: Pro Se is NO Say in Missouri, Access To legal Materials, the Courts the Missouri Joke Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 09:28:05 -0500

For starters Christian County JAIL and the so called justice Center Law Library should be FULLY and COMPLETELY investigated. Currently there are ONGOING Federal Civil Rights and State Petitions for Due Process and Equal Protection and CIVIL LIBERTIES cases proceeding both in State and Federal Courts. IF you’re a Lawyer or Prosecutor in Christian county you have EXCELLENT Legal Materials and Resources BUT if you area PRE-TRIAL detainee or PRE-TRIAL arrestee you have NONE. Inside the jail they have a GREAT BIG JOKE of ONE Dinosaur with NO Internet Access, NO FORMS, No Treatises, No Annotations, No Digests, NO Practice Manuals, the quality of Legal Materials available to the PUBLIC and Pre-Trial Litigants and family COURT parties is ZERO, Notta NOTHING.

BUT in Jeff City, the Missouri Supreme Court is Open to the Public ? What is the Policy of the Office Of Court Administration and WHY is the Law Library OFF Limits to Christian County Citizens ?

I ask for the Official Policy in accordance with the Missouri Sunshine Laws. Thanks

Judson Witham PO Box 309Chadwick, Missouri 65629

From: judson witham <jurisnot@y...To: Lee Martin <lee@p...CC: rslight@n..., James Wright<jamesw@w..., martyn7788@y..., PeopleB4Lawyers <, quig@d..., justice96@m..., marc@p...,,, catherine@s..., Ed <ed44@s..., jeffandmary@o..., thecatbird@t..., president@a..., mburns8@c..., FrankButash@e..., Judgewatch@a..., preacherman35@J..., afscinfo@a...

Subject: Pro Se is NO Say in Missouri, Access To legal Materials, the Courts the Missouri Joke

Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 11:08:59 -0700 (PDT)

Dear Mr. Ryan Slight, News Leader Staff and Editors:

Below is just a small percentage of the groups who have joined together to FORCE Civil Rights issues across America. In reading the News Leaders FRONT PAGE ARTICLE written by Mr. Slight ( Entitled "Thinking About Representing Yourself ?Be Aware " I am suggesting that you change "Be Aware"to "BEWARE".

The FACT that the News Leader is JUST NOW writing about these issues is indicative of the FACT that the entitlements more commonly known as CIVIL RIGHTS(Equal Protection and Due Process of Law) are lagging egregiously behind in the Ozarks. The FACT that convicted Felons who are INCARCERATED are GUARANTEED ACCESS to QUALITY LEGAL PREPARATION MATERIALS and citizens are NOT in most all Missouri Counties is a GREAT INSULT and highly violative of their Civil liberties. These Citizens pay the TAXES but are locked OUT of nearly all Missouri law Libraries is a FARCE. Felons rights are provided for as follows: I suggest at MINIMUM equal treatment for Law Abiding citizens !____________________________________________________

Prisoners' Right of Access to the Courts: Law Libraries in U.S. Prisons

ABSTRACT This examines the history that led to the establishment of law libraries in state and federal prisons in the United States. The author explains the fundamental right of prisoners' "access to the courts"and provides examples of how this access is granted. The law library is the most widely used option to guarantee prisoners' constitutional rights, including the right to file writs of habeas corpus, sentence appeals, and claims relating to civil rights violations and the conditions of confinement. The article examines the challenges and problems of operating law libraries in the unique environment of prisons, including the areas of administration, collection management, staffing, space utilization, security, physical access, and inmate services.



I. INTRODUCTION In the United States, inmates in both state and federal prisons are guaranteed certain constitutional and civil rights. They include freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, the right to due process, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to adequate medical care, freedom from racial discrimination, and the right of access to the courts. Only in unusual circumstances and for the sake of safety and security may limitations be imposed on these rights.

The existence of constitutional rights for any individual is dependent upon mechanisms to uphold these rights and protect them from violation or denial. Consequently, access to the courts is a pivotal right upon which the vindication of prisoners' other constitutional protections depends. It is important to understand that, with the exception of the U.S. Constitution, federal and state statutes do not guarantee any significant rights for convicted prisoners. Most of the rights now guaranteed to prisoners, including the civil rights extended to all other U.S. citizens, are the result of judicial rulings rather than legislative or administrative action.

During the last three decades, the Unites States supreme Court and lower federal courts have recognized and confirmed these rights and ended the existing"hands-off" policy previously applied by courts to inmates. Although federal courts had long received habeas corpus petitions, until the 1960s the"hands-off" policy prevented the judiciary from considering other claims from prisoners. The courts lent great discretion to prison administrators regarding the internal management of prisons which led to extensive abuse.


The fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law. This quote is taken from Bounds v. Smith(430 U.S. 817), the 1977 landmark Supreme Court decision, which led to the establishment of law libraries in most major U.S. prisons. Bounds was the culmination of thirty-six years of significant federal court decisions that markedly enhanced a prisoner's ability to seek redress of complaints before courts of law. It went beyond these decisions by stating emphatically that states have an affirmative duty to provide assistance not only in the area of post conviction relief but also in the area of institutional civil rights. Prior decisions of the court had held that inmates could not be required to submit habeas corpus petitions for prison administration approval before sending them to the courts.(1) The Court also had ruled that a state could not condition the right to appeal a conviction (2)or the right to file a petition for habeas corpus(3) or other form of post conviction relief on the payment of a filing fee when the petitioner had no means to pay. Further, the Court had held that the right to legal assistance -especially in the context of the constitutional right to the writ of habeas corpus--meant that in the absence of other adequate assistance, a state may not deny a prisoner the right to seek and obtain legal assistance from another prisoner, a "jailhouse lawyer"(4), and it must make available certain minimum legal materials (5).

Further, the Court ruled that access to the courts must be guaranteed to persons seeking to present claims dealing with conditions of confinement and civil rights violations(6) --generally referred to as"section 1983" (of the U.S. Code Title 42) actions. And for the first time the Court explicitly stated that access to the courts must be guaranteed to totally and functionally illiterate inmates and that the right of access is founded in the Due Process clause (the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution).Through these Supreme Court decisions a new judicial philosophy gradually evolved away from the earlier"hands-off" position. It was seen as the affirmative responsibility of state officials to guarantee satisfactory means of legal assistance to all prisoners, i.e., the state was to take a proactive stance in this area and no longer just refrain from obstructing or impeding access. Still unclear was what options or methods the states were to adopt to provide this access. In the Bounds case (1977),however, the Supreme Court finally gave the states several options to pick from in deciding how to fulfill their constitutional mandate.

The three most widely used methods of compliance

today are

1) establishing law school clinical programs where law students, under the supervision of attorneys, assist inmates,

2) employing full-time staff attorneys or contracting with prisoner assistance organizations and

3) providing adequate law libraries. Each of these three alternatives have been put into practice by various states. During the last decade, however, most states have as a result of federal district and appellate court rulings been forced to provide more than one option or a combination of options, since no single method guarantees access for all prisoners. By so ruling, the courts have given a broader and more liberal interpretation to Bounds, emphasizing the key phrase of "meaningful" access to the courts.(7)


Nearly all prisons have opted for law libraries over legal services as their primary access method. The cost of establishing an adequate law library is unimportant factor in opting for this alternative. Initial start-up costs are significant (currently between $60,000 and $70,000 per library for a basic core collection of state and federal materials).Upkeep costs run between $8,000 and $10,0 00 per year. With the rapid rate of prison population growth and prison building expansion in the U.S. (combined state and federal prisoners number approximately 1 million today!), law libraries are a major expense item.

The purpose of the law library, from a constitutional point of view, is to comply with a Supreme Court order. From the point of view of the law library, the purpose is to provide a collection of books and other resources with which prisoners may conduct legal research. Although there are some differences among states in how they operate the law libraries, the general problems of administration , collection management, staffing, space utilization, security, physical access, and level of service are quite similar. One major problem for prison librarians and administrators is that the Supreme Court never specified what materials are necessary to ensure adequacy. In 1972, the American Association of Law libraries (AALL) compiled a minimum list of law books they considered necessary to meet the adequacy requirement. This list has been regularly updated and expanded. The AALL list has been cited by state and federal courts as standing the test of adequacy, and most prison administrations refer to it as a minimum standard. Therefore, by following the prescribed AALL list, a state can be reasonably sure that it has met its constitutional obligation if its total service plan ensures each inmate competent assistance in the use of the materials, sufficient time to conduct legal research, file petitions, and meet court deadlines. In spite of the fact that prison administrations are perfectly aware of these requirements, numerous inmates file law suits each year alleging inadequate access to the law library, claiming limited hours, schedule conflict, limited space, disciplinary actions, and damaged or incomplete collections. This trend is likely to continue in the present situation of serious prison overcrowding.

In the majority of prisons, the law library and the general inmate library are managed as separate program areas but are often operating in the same space or in adjacent locations. From the administration's point of view, this arrangement facilitates supervision and reduces staffing needs. In many states a professional librarian supervises both library areas; in some prison systems the law library is administered as a separate entity and is staffed by a law librarian or a non-librarian prison employee. Most prisons also employ inmates as law library clerks, and where inmate paralegals exist, they generally operate out of the law library.

Both the Library Standards for Adult Correctional institutions(8) and the proposed Prison Law Library guidelines (9) call for separate operations of the prison law library and the general library. The main rationale for this is that the two types of libraries have very different missions, i.e., the law library provides "access to the courts" and the general library serves informational, recreational and educational needs. The fear is also very real that in times of tight budgets, the general library will be shortchanged, if the court mandated law library is competing for the same funds. Prison administrators will take all measures possible to avoid getting sued by inmates. Whoever is in charge of the law library has responsibility for planning and evaluation, policy and procedure development, budgeting, collection development, staff training and supervision, inventory, legal reference and referral, and scheduling inmate access. When these responsibilities are added to those of managing the general library, the demands on the librarian are indeed high. Many of the larger states have seen the need to have a central coordinator of law library services, who has responsibility for uniform standards, equity of service, planning new libraries, collection specifications, and auditing library performance. Sometimes this coordinator is a law librarian or an attorney, but often the job is combined with that of general library services coordinator.

The basic core collection that will stand up to constitutional scrutiny consists of a federal and a state component, each containing codes, statutes, reporters (case law), digests to the reporters, and research tools such as Shepard's citators. Additional materials are criminal and constitutional law treatises, legal dictionaries and directories, legal research and writing manuals, forms, genera l"how-to"guides for the layperson, legal practice and procedure manuals, and the prison department's rules and regulations. The codes, statutes, reporters, digests and citators require continuous updating with pocket parts and inserts, and other materials must be available in the latest editions in order to be useful. Most libraries find a written collection development policy helpful, especially where the collection is larger and more comprehensive than the mandated minimum core. Often inmates will donate personal materials or donations from law firms and government agencies occur. Since it is expensive to keep all these titles current, there should be policies dealing with such situations. Maintaining the collection is a time consuming job which is often performed by a detail oriented inmate clerk, who also checks for missing pages and pocket parts. Many prisons have found that with direct user access to the shelves come considerable loss and vandalism of materials. Consequently, a system where the content of the entire collection is prominently listed for all to browse but inmates request individual items from a service counter works better from both an inmate and administration point of view. It provides better control of the collection, and the fact that inmates sign for each item provides useful statistics on library use and proof that access was granted.

Legal collections grow rapidly, and housing them is big problem for many, especially older, institutions where libraries are located in space that was not designed for this purpose. In some states, older and less frequently used parts of the collection are made available in microfiche and microform reader/printers are provided. The latest development in providing legal materials in alternative format is the introduction of CD-ROM. State and federal codes, reporters, and other materials are now published in CD-ROM format, and some prisons (e.g., in California, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin) are experimenting with CD-ROM workstations and local area networks (LANs).It will probably be at least a year before data can be analyzed from these pilot projects and access to the courts evaluated as to its adequacy.

Besides maintaining and making available the legal collection, the law libraries provide several other services. Photocopying of legal materials and correspondence usually is available at a charge, but indigent inmates must be provided with loans against future earnings to pay for certain copies, stamps, envelopes, etc. Photocopying is heavily used by inmates. In most states, profits from inmate- produced revenue must be used for the direct benefit of inmates; this often includes library materials and recreational equipment. Although photocopy machines are not mandated for inmate use, most prisons have them for practical reasons: an inmate who must copy many pages by hand requires a lot of time in the library.

Typewriters are generally provided for correspondence and filling out forms. Some law libraries have personal computers with legal forms stored on disk. Although there has been reluctance to allow inmates the use of computers for other than educational or work related purposes, the move towards wider acceptance is inevitable in places where priority is placed on a professional and efficient operation. Interlibrary loan in most prisons includes both general and legal library materials. The demand is mostly for law review articles and copies of case law from other states. Since this service is not mandated, it may be denied to inmates who abuse the privilege. Law library managers have also found it useful to be certified notaries, since many of the documents that inmates send to the courts must be publicly notarized. Similarly, for practical reasons most libraries keep a supply of frequently used legal forms or master forms that may be duplicated. In addition to providing general reference assistance, the law library staff is often required to refer inmates to sources of legal assistance outside the institution. The civilian library staff must be careful to distinguish between providing legal reference assistance and giving legal advice. The latter, along with drafting legal documents and taking an active role in inmate litigation, could be interpreted as "practicing law without a license" and has on occasion led to lawsuits by dissatisfied customers.

Most prison law libraries are staffed by law librarians or general librarians who have had some training in legal research and managing legal collections. In some states, however, a civilian program or security officer supervises the library with inmates clerks performing most tasks. The law library functions most effectively when the library manager has a good knowledge of the law and the proper use of legal materials. The best run libraries also provide extensive training to inmate clerks and formal orientation to users. Some have developed in-house training and publicity materials, others have purchased commercial "how-to-use-the-law-library"books and videos. In order to employ the best qualified inmate law clerks, many states require candidates to pass a test measuring legal knowledge and skills. These jobs are very desirable and carry much prestige.

Depending on the security level of the prison and the physical layout, there may or may not be a security officer stationed in the library. Most librarians feel quite safe in their work area, since inmate behavior is closely regulated and monitored; an added incentive to behave properly is that no inmate wants to have his access to the law library curtailed. The presence of a security officer I s generally welcomed by the librarian, who then has more opportunity to move around the institution and attend meetings, training, or other activities. The officer can answer the telephone and supervise patrons and inmate staff. The security of the collection is important for both financial and legal reasons. Replacement costs for legal publications are high, and if volumes or pages are missing, inmates may sue claiming that the right to an adequate law library has been denied.

Closely related to security is the layout and utilization of the library space. New prisons have been able to plan libraries with their specific functions in mind, incorporating new technology and space saver shelving. Seating is arranged for efficient use of space and easy visual supervision. The size of the study area is proportional to the prison population and the number of hours open. Whether or not the institution permits free inmate movement (as opposed to a pass or call-out system)also impacts on the size of the seating area. Older prisons have limited options for space utilization. Their libraries are often crowded and have limited storage; infrequently used materials may have to be stored elsewhere. And there is a long waiting list to get to the law library. Because of these conditions, the library must remain open days, evenings, and weekends.

The main purpose of the prison law library is to provide access to the courts through the availability of legal materials. If too many restrictions are placed on the physical access to the library and the collection (e.g., not enough time to conduct research; total hours allotted insufficient to meet court imposed deadlines; access denied for disciplinary reasons; materials not available when needed; inadequate assistance provided), prisoners sue the institution, the librarian, or the entire prison system. This happens regularly; sometimes the complaints are legitimate, sometimes frivolous. Having policies and procedures on the books that deal in detail with the access issue is imperative. Several states have been ordered by the courts to provide adequate access to legal materials to inmates who are in administrative, medical, or disciplinary segregation. These persons are entitled to"comparable" services, and most prisons with long-term segregation units have within the last five to six years had to establish so called legal "starter"collections in each segregation unit. These "starter"collections consist of basic finding tools that enable inmates to identify and request specific cases, titles, and volumes from the main library or outside sources. In the past, the libraries generally required these inmates to furnish specific citations or article names on their request forms but did not provide them with the tools to do so. Much progress has been made in the area of access over the last ten years --however, as the prison population keeps growing, the access problem remains with us.

REFERENCES(1) Ex parte Hull, 312 U.S. 546 (1941).

(2) Burns v. Ohio, 360 U.S. 708 (1961)

(3) Smith v. Bennett, 365 U.S. 708 (1961)

(4) Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483 (1969)

(5) Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15 (1971)

(6) Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974)

(7) Canterino v. Wilson. 562 F. Supp, 106, 111 (W.D.Ky. 1983); Glover v. Johnson, 478 F. Supp. 1075, 1096(E.D. Mich. 1979); Wetmore v. Fields, 458 F. Supp.1131 (W.D. Wis. 1978)

(8) American Library Association/Association of specialized and Cooperative Library Services, 1992.

(9) American Association of Law Libraries (1994 draft document)


MONOGRAPHS AMERICAN Association of Law Libraries. Standing committee on Law Library Service to Institution residents, Contemporary Social Problems Special section. Correctional Facility Law Libraries: An A to Z Resource Guide, Laurel, Maryland: American correctional Association, 1991.

Flittie, Roger G. Bibliography of Selected Prison cases: Law Library Edition. Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Prison Information Service, Inc., 1991.

Flores, Arturo A. Werner's Manual for Prison Law libraries. 2nd ed. Littleton, Colorado: F.B. Rothman,1990.

Gobert, James and Neil Cohen. Rights of Prisoners. Colorado Springs: Shepard's McGraw Hill, 1991 with cumulative supplements.

Hartz, Fred R. et al. Prison Librarianship: A Selective, Annotated, Clarified Bibliography,1945-1985. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland &Co.,1987.

Rodovsky, David, et al. The Rights of Prisoners. 4thed. (An American Civil Liberties Union Handbook).Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University press, 1988.

Wise, Olga B. and J. MacGregor Smith. Planning a Legal reference Library for a Correctional Institution. Champaign, Illinois: National Clearinghouse for criminal Justice Planning and Architecture, 1976.

ARTICLES Albert, Myra. "Prison Libraries: Rationale and Role",Journal of Correctional Education 40 (September,1989): 126-129.

Alpert, G.P. and C.F. Huff. "Prisoners, the Law, and public Policy --Planning for Legal Aid," New England journal of Law 7 (Summer 1981): 307-386.

Audet, William M. "Representing the Institutionalized Mariel Cubans -- The Wisconsin Experience," Wisconsin Law Review 1987 (May June 1987): 455 491.

Belz, Richard A. "Legal Services for Florida's Inmates: Expanding Access to the Courts by Hooks and Bounds," Florida Bar Journal 56 (February, 1982):183-185.

Bodine, Larry. "New Mexico's Prison Lesson: InmatesHave Turned to the Courts in 28 States as a LastResort to End Intolerable Conditions," The NationalLaw Journal 3 (February 25, 1980): 1.

Champion, Dean J. "Some Recent Trends in CivilLitigation by Federal and State Prison Inmates",Federal Probation 52 (September, 1988): 43-47.

Dale, M.J. "Writ Writers, Jailhouse Lawyers, and ProSe Plaintiffs: An Analysis of Prisoners' Right ofAccess to the Courts", American Jails 2 (Fall 1988):29-31.

Davis-O'Hay, Jessica. "Inmates Victorious in LibraryLitigation (Pennsylvania)," Pennsylvania Law Journal-Reporter 12 (December 4, 1989): 1.

Dean, Scott. "Court Reinstates Prisoner's Suit: Civil rights Action over Access to Law Library not Frivolous," Pennsylvania Law Journal 15 (October 12,1992): 8.

Flores, Arturo A. "Bounds and Reality: Lawbooks Alone do Not a Lawyer Make" Law Library Journal 77 (Spring1985): 275-287.

Gordon, Barbara. "Correctional Librarians : Providing service by the Book," Corrections Today 51 (December,1989); 60.

Haas, Kenneth C. and Geoffrey P. Alpert. "American prisons and the Right of Access to the Courts: A Vanishing Concept of Protection" The American Prison: Issues in Research and Policy. Ed. by Lynne Goodstein and Doris Layton MacKenzie. New York: Plenum Press,1989: 65 87.

Hinckley, Steven D. "Bounds and Beyond : A Need to reevaluate the Right of Prisoner Access to the courts," University of Richmond Law Review 22 (Fall1987): 19-49.

Kempinen, Ben. "Prisoner Access to Justice and Paralegals: The Fox Lake Paralegal Program," New England Journal on Criminal & Civil Confinement 14(Winter 1988): 67-90.

Marke, Julius J. "Prisoners' Right of Access to Law libraries," New York Law Journal 200 (December 20,1988): 4.

Meshnick, Howard. "Constitutional Law-Prisoners' Right of Access to Courts Does Not Mandate Additional Legal assistance When Law Library Access is Adequate",Suffolk University Law Review 19 (Spring 1985):120-128.

"Prison Law Libraries (Editorial)," National LawJournal 7 (October 7, 1984).

Remington, Frank J. "Change in the Availability of federal Habeas Corpus: Its Significance for State prisoners and State Correctional Programs," Michigan law Review 85 (December 1986): 570 591.

Remington, Frank J. "Restricting Access to Federal habeas Corpus: Justice Sacrificed on the Altars of expediency, Federalism and Deterrence," New York university Review of Law & Social Change 16 (June,1988): 339-357.

Rubin, Rhea Joyce and Sandra J. Souza. "The Challenge continues: Prison Librarianship in the 1980s,"Library journal 114 (March 1, 1989): 47-52.

Ryan Wayne. "Access to the Courts: Prisoners' Right to a Law Library," Howard Law Journal 26 (Winter 1983):91-117.

Smith, Christopher E. "Examining the Boundaries of Bounds: Prison Law Libraries and Access to the courts," Howard Law Journal 30 (Winter 1987): 27-44.

Smith, Christopher E. "Improving the Use of Prison Law Libraries: A Modest Proposal," Law Library Journal 79(Spring 1987): 227-239.

Stowe, Charles R.B. "Equal Access to Courts: A Look at Texas Prison Libraries," Texas Bar Journal 50(December 1987): 1238 1240.

Sullivan, Larry. "Between the Covers: Prison Libraries in Historical Perspective," Wilson Library Bulletin64(October, 1989): 26-29.

Suvak, Daniel. "Pen and Ink: Writing Standards for prison Libraries" Wilson Library Bulletin 64(October,1989): 29-30.

Thomas, Jim. "The Reality of Prisoner Litigation: Repackaging the Data", New England Journal on Criminal& Civil Confinement 15 (Winter 1989): 27-53.

Westling, Wayne T. and Patricia Rasmussen."Prisoners' Access to the Courts: Legal Requirements and Practical Realities", Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal16 (Winter 1985): 273-317. People's Legal Front

PLF's Proposals:

PROBLEM: The problem is that the County Jails are not making adequate legal information available to the inmates who are awaiting trial while incarcerated in the County Jail. In some instances there are not even complete copies of the statutes, and rarely is there Missouri Supreme Court Rules available. There is no case law and the Code of State Regulations is not provided.

LIABILITY: The local governments should make available to the inmate population legal material. The liability for the local government is that by failing to comply with the statutes of the State of Missouri and the constitutions for the State of Missouri and the United states of America creates a violation of civil rights that may be proceeded on by a Title 42 section 1983action in Federal Court. Access to the Courts is a cornerstone of our society.

SOLUTION: The People's Legal Front does intend to provide access to the Rules of Court and the statutes of the State of Missouri via the Internet. The people's Legal Front has access to the Rules of Court for the State of Missouri, provided by a Jackson county Judge. We have access to the Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri via the Mo. Government homepage, as well as the People's Law Library, an internet publication created and maintained by the PLF. We have access to the Missouri Approved instructions Criminal 3rd via the People's Law library. We have access to the Case Law via Versus law. The Code of State Regulation is being provided by the Secretary of State's Office and can also be provided. The Publication costs of this information would come to thousands of dollars for each county jail. The proposal of the PLF would supply this information to all jails via a computer thus only incurring the cost once, and thereby saving the public funds.

PLAN: The plan would entail the maintenance of a webpage with limited access to the Internet. The webpage would provide links to the public information concerning the laws of the land. It would take a computer equipped with a Pentium processor and 2gigabytes of hard drive.

The electronic mail application could be linked to the attorneys in the state as well as the Public defenders office thus providing communication for the accused with their attorney. The accused's access to legal information would help the defendant in the preparation of their defense. Access to legal information would provide the indigent the means to avail themselves of their best defense. The legal information would dispel false assumptions on the part of the defendant, and may help to alleviate court congestion in that the guilty would be more agreeable to a plea bargain. Providing legal information to the accused would prevent Title 42 section 1983 actions from being filed, and if filed would provide a defense for local governments.

EQUIPMENT: Every County jail that is part of the people's Legal Front Network would have a computer adequate to provide the service that would remain available to the inmates 24 hrs a day. There may be occasion when the system would be down for servicing, but the down time should be minimal. There would have to be a telephone line that would, depending on usage, be dedicated to the institution's law library. A printer for the production of documents should be provided and a Word Processing program for the creation of legal documents is necessary. E-mail links for the filing of documents should be provided with the links maintained in a dedicated address book. It is foreseeable that the inmates would need some technical instruction, which the PLF is planning on supplying if the jail staff is unable to provide.


PROBLEM: The problem is that the public governmental bodies are not complying with the sunshine law, Chapter 610 of the RSMo. The public governmental bodies of the state of Missouri are not maintaining public governmental records in a manner of openness so as to allow public inspection of these bodies. In the computer age we can reasonably expect the records created and maintained by government should be more readily availability for the public. It is a duty of every citizen to know what the governmental body does, and how it does it. The citizen should be capable of access to all public records.

LIABILITY: The public governmental bodies should make available to the population public records. The liability for the local government is that by failing to comply with the statutes of the State of Missouri and the Constitutions for the State of Missouri and the United States of America creates a violation of civil rights that may be proceeded on by a Title 42section 1983 action in Federal Court.

SOLUTION: The People's Legal Front does intend to provide access to the public governmental records via the Internet. The People's Legal Front has access to the Rules of Court for the State of Missouri, provided by a Jackson County Judge. We have access to the revised Statutes of the State of Missouri via the Mo. Government homepage, as well as the People's Law library, an Internet publication created and maintained by the PLF. We have access to the Missouri Approved Instructions Criminal 3rd via the People’s Law Library. We have access to the Case Law via Versus Law. The Code of State Regulation is being provided by the Secretary of State's Office and can also be provided. The proposal of the PLF would supply this information to all via a computer thus only incurring the cost once, and thereby saving the public funds.

PLAN: The plan would entail the maintenance of a webpage with access to the Internet. The web page would provide links to the public information. The People's Legal Front has the capabilities to provide this service to the public.

The public governmental bodies could maintain the records on their own server and provide access to public information via the Internet. In that case the people's Legal Front would collect and provide links to the records. The public governmental bodies could provide the public governmental records to the People's Legal Front in electronic format and the People's Legal Front could then put the public governmental record on the Internet. Access to public information would provide to citizen the means to avail themselves of their statutory right provided in 109.180 RSMo. This legislation was enacted in 1961 and has been a cornerstone in the State of Missouri: "Except as otherwise provided by law, all state, county and municipal records kept pursuant to statute or ordinance shall at all reasonable times be open for a personal inspection by any citizen of missouri, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse the privilege to any citizen. Any official who violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to removal or impeachment and in addition shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, or by confinement in the county jail not exceeding ninety days, or by both the fine and the confinement. "The public information would dispel false assumptions on the part of the citizen, and may help to alleviate suspicion of government ethics. Providing public information to the citizen would prevent Title 42 section 1983 actions from being filed, and if filed would provide a defense for local governments.


CURRENTLY in Christian and Greene County and many other Missouri Counties LAW ABIDING Citizens are denied Access to COUNTY LEVEL Law Libraries. Judge Eiffert in Christian County and I add In a VERY NASTY MANNER Discontinued My Use of the STATE"S legal collection after many weeks of my using it. I did nothing to warrant being denied access to the Legal materials. The Missouri Supreme Court Library is open to the Public, BUT the State Financed, Taxpayer funded, Litigant Funded Collection in Christian County IS OFF LIMITS to the Public ??

I wrote several letters to the office Of Court administration and to my State Representatives EVEN the supreme Court and ask the State for it's POLICY on public Access to the Law Libraries. ALL failed to respond and NONE offered any relief ??

The facts as written in Mr. Slight's article are very limited. The idea that PRO SE LITIGANTS rate less than Convicted Felons and that Citizens RIGHTS(Entitlements) to Equal Protection, Equal Treatment and Due Process in Missouri is SO absolutely antiquated, oppressive, suppressive and FRANKLY Corrupt is an OUTRAGE. Christian County I would add DOES NOT PROVIDE anywhere near the Standard Of Legal Materials required to it's PRE-TRIAL Detainees and Post-Trial convicts. I suggest Christian County Jail needs to be SUED, just on the Legal Materials Issues for starters.

I would ask for EVERYONE who receives this letter to read Ryan Slight's article and to Contact ALL Persons who have an interest in Protecting Individual liberties and RIGHTS in Missouri, POST this letter FAR AND WIDE. The Goal is to FORCE Immediate Change.

Please contact all groups mentioned in Mr. Slight's article and ADDING your own thoughts (copying mine if you like) Lets TOGETHER NOW speak with a collective voice.

PRO SE means NO SAY in Missouri, and that MUST be changed.

Judson Witham Internet Campaign For The Restoration Of The Bill Of rights

Joint Commission to review pro se litigation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Supreme Court of Missouri and The Missouri Bar announce the formation of a Joint commission to Review Pro Se Litigation. Increasing numbers of litigants seek to represent themselves in court proceedings, particularly in family court matters. The Commission will seek to determine the extent of the practice in Missouri family courts, current difficulties encountered by such representation both by the litigants and the courts, and measures that have been adopted in other states relating to pro se litigation.

Members of the Commission appointed by the Supreme court include:

The Honorable Cary Augustine, Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit

The Honorable Daniel F. Kellogg, Judge, 5th Judicial Circuit

The Honorable Margaret M. Neill, Judge, 22nd Judicial Circuit

Lottie Wade, St. Louis, Missouri

Gary Waint, Jefferson City, Missouri

Judy Zerr, Circuit Clerk, 11th Judicial Circuit

Members of the Commission appointed by The Missouri Bar include:

Charles R. Baird, Springfield, Missouri

Carla M. Fields, Kansas City, Missouri

Richard F. Halliburton, Kansas City, Missouri

Lori J. Levine, Jefferson City, Missouri

Kris Smith, Kansas City, Missouri

Allan F. Stewart, Clayton, Missouri

James H. Young, Blue Springs, Missouri

Lori Levine will chair the Commission, which is to furnish a report of its findings and recommendations to the Supreme Court and The Missouri Bar by June 30,2003.