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HRDC v. Johnson County, Kansas, et al., KS, Censorship, Settlement, 2021

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Human Rights Defense Center v. Johnson County, KS, et al.
Case No. 2:20-cv-02447
THIS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (hereinafter referred to as the “Agreement”) is
made and entered into as of the date this Agreement is signed, by and among the Board of
County Commissioners of Johnson County, KS, on behalf of the county and all of its elected
officials, officers, directors, employees, former employees, agents, predecessors, divisions,
successors, administrators, and assigns, including but not limited to Sheriff Calvin Hayden
(collectively referred to as “Defendants”), and the Human Rights Defense Center (“HRDC”), on
behalf of itself and all of its officers, directors, employees, former employees, agents,
predecessors, divisions, successors, administrators, and assigns.

Defendants and HRDC

collectively are “the Parties”.
I. Recitals
A. At all times relevant hereto, the Defendant Hayden was the duly elected sheriff and
the authorized representative of Defendant Johnson County, KS, with respect to the operation of
the detention centers.
B. At all times relevant hereto, the Human Rights Defense Center is and was a not-forprofit charitable organization recognized under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code,
incorporated in the state of Washington and with principal offices in Lake Worth, Florida.
HRDC publishes Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News, monthly magazines containing
criminal justice and corrections news and analysis. HRDC has thousands of subscribers in the
United States and abroad, including prisoners, attorneys, and judges.

Additionally, HRDC

publishes and/or distributes dozens of different softcover books about the criminal justice
system, legal reference books, and self-help books of interest to prisoners.
C. This Agreement addresses and resolves certain disputes arising from and relating to
allegations that Defendants violated HRDC’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights as it relates
to the handling and delivery of its publications at the Central Booking and New Century Adult
detention centers (collectively, the “Jail”), and the alleged lack of due process associated with
Defendants’ failure to provide HRDC notice and opportunity to be heard regarding rejected or
censored publications.
D. The Parties agree that the Defendants deny any liability in this case. However, in
order to avoid the expense, delay, uncertainty, and burden of litigation, the parties have agreed to
a settlement of the litigation. This written Agreement memorializes the terms of the settlement
reached by Defendants and HRDC as to the claims in this case.
II. Injunctive terms
1. Defendants agree that Sheriff Hayden and Jail commanders shall authorize HRDC to
send book packages to the Johnson County Detention Centers pursuant to a numbered training
bulletin, so long as such packages are clearly marked that they are from HRDC and addressed to
individual inmates or the detention centers’ “Programs Staff.” HRDC’s magazines will not be
considered “packages.”
2. Defendants agree that Sheriff Hayden will authorize and detention commanders will
purchase and use new ink hand-stamps that contain the following information and would be used
on any mail items rejected for lack of pre-approval or use of stickers/labels/etc.:
a. “item rejected due to prohibited stickers, labels, etc.”
b. “package rejected for lack of pre-approval”; and


c. one or more of the following:
1. “to appeal rejection visit [web address]”;
2. “to appeal rejection: [email address]”;
3. “to appeal rejection call (913) 715-5900.”
3. Defendants agree that if HRDC establishes to a reasonable degree of certainty in an
appeal that any of its mailings should not have been rejected by the jail staff, then Defendants
agree to reimburse HRDC for the return to sender fees, the postage costs of the appeal, and the
cost and $4.00 of staff time to resend the item.
4. The Parties agree that Defendant Calvin Hayden and his agents, assigns, employees,
deputies and successors, will establish, implement and enforce procedures that will fully
effectuate the terms of this Agreement.
5. It is further agreed that within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of this Agreement,
Defendant Calvin Hayden will disseminate the requirements of Section II of this Agreement to
all employees whose job involves sorting, processing, or delivering mail at the Jail, and that the
terms of this Agreement will be fully implemented by all jail staff persons. Defendant Hayden
will also cause to be placed in the common areas of the Jails a memo to prisoners that will
include the language contained in Exhibit A to this Agreement. Defendants’ counsel will furnish
Plaintiff’s counsel with written confirmation that Defendants have complied with the provisions
of this paragraph.
6. The Sheriff will ensure that his deputies and staff are sufficiently advised and trained
to carry out his obligations under this Agreement with all staff persons who are responsible for
any part of the receipt, collection, and delivery of U.S. Mail to prisoners about the contents of
this Agreement and the best practices for successful compliance herewith. Defendants shall


certify to Plaintiff that said training has been conducted and the memo to the prisoners has been
distributed within ninety (90) days of the entry of the stipulation and Order by the Court.
III. Monetary Agreement and Dismissal.
7. Defendants agree to pay HRDC a total of $50,000 in full and final settlement of all
claims for damages, fees, and costs that were brought in this matter or could have been brought
in this matter. Defendants will send direct payment to the Human Rights Defense Center within
(thirty) 30 days of the entry of the Stipulation and Order to Dismiss by the Court.
8. In consideration of the above terms agreed to by Defendants, HRDC agrees to dismiss
all claims in the instant case. Said dismissal will be with prejudice in the United States District
Court to all claims for damages, loss, and costs (including attorney fees) that were or could have
been brought in this matter, though the Court shall retain jurisdiction for the purpose of
entertaining enforcement actions per the terms described in paragraph 9.
IV. Reservation of Jurisdiction
9. The Parties agree that the Court shall retain jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing
the terms of this Agreement, by entry of a Stipulated Order of Dismissal stating the same.
V. Miscellaneous Provisions
10. Defendants and HRDC acknowledge and agree that they have been represented by
legal counsel with respect to the matters that are the subject of this Agreement and that they have
entered into this Agreement freely and voluntarily.
11. The Parties agree that facsimile or PDF signatures are deemed to be originals and
that this Agreement may be executed in counterparts.
Agreement shall be deemed executed, final, and binding.


Upon signature of the Parties, this

12. The signatories to this Agreement who sign on behalf of another hereby warrant that
they have the full authority to sign on behalf of that person or entity.
13. The Parties agree that this case concerns the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights
of a publisher, and is therefore not a case concerning prison conditions as defined in the Prison
Litigation Reform Act of 1996. The Parties also agree that the injunctive relief contained herein
is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the harm to HRDC, and is the
least intrusive means necessary to correct that harm.
14. This Agreement sets forth the entire understanding between the Parties with respect
to the claims in this case, and there are no representations, warranties, agreements, arrangements,
or undertakings, oral or written, between or among the Parties hereto relating to the subject
matter of this Agreement which are not fully expressed herein. This Agreement supersedes all
prior negotiations, representations, statements, or promises between the Parties, whether written
or oral, as to these claims.
15. This Agreement or any uncertainty or ambiguity herein shall not be construed against
any Party but shall be construed as if all Parties to this Agreement jointly prepared this
16. This Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of the Defendants and
HRDC, and their respective successors and assigns.
17. The obligations imposed by this Agreement are severable. If for any reason a part of
this Agreement is invalid or unenforceable, that determination shall not affect the remainder of
this Agreement.


Memo to inmates at the Johnson County jails


Sheriff Calvin Hayden and Johnson County recently settled the lawsuit Human Rights Defense
Center v. Board of County Commissioners of Johnson County, KS, case number 2:20-cv-02447 in the
United States District Court for the District of Kansas. In that lawsuit, the Human Rights Defense Center
alleged that the defendants violated its First Amendment right to free speech by rejecting publications
that were mailed to prisoners at the jails in Johnson County. Sheriff Hayden maintains that none of the
Human Rights Defense Center’s constitutional rights were violated but elected to settle the lawsuit to
avoid the costs of further litigation.
The reasons for rejection of the mail items included the jails’ policy that book packages had to
be pre-approved before they would be accepted at the jails. As part of the settlement in the case, the
Human Rights Defense Center may now send a limited number of packages addressed to inmates
without first getting approval subject to the current book and magazine possession limitations outlined
in the Inmate Guidebook.
For more information please write:
Human Rights Defense Center
P.O. Box 1151
Lake Worth, FL 33460
(561) 360-2523