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Prison Legal News v. Sacramento County, CA Jail Censorship Preliminary Injunction Order, 2011

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Case 2:11-cv-00907-JAM -DAD Document 49

Filed 03/08/12 Page 1 of 4

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

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EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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PRISON LEGAL NEWS, a project of )
the HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER, )
)
Plaintiff,
)
)
v.
)
)
COUNTY OF SACRAMENTO; SCOTT R.
)
JONES, individually and in his
)
capacity as Sheriff of the
)
County of Sacramento; DOES 1-20, )
in their individual and official )
capacities,
)
)
Defendants.
)
)

Case No. 2:11-CV-00907 JAM-DAD
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S
MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY
INJUNCTION
Judge:
Date:
Time:
Crtrm.:

Hon. John A. Mendez
March 7, 2012
9:30 a.m.
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On March 7, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. this matter came on regularly

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for a hearing in Courtroom 6, Fourteenth Floor, of this Court, the

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Honorable John A. Mendez presiding.

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pleadings, the arguments of counsel, and the entire record in this

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case, and good cause existing therefor,

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THE COURT HEREBY FINDS AND ORDERS:

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Plaintiff Prison Legal News (“PLN”) has demonstrated a

Having considered the parties’

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likelihood of success on the merits of its First Amendment claim.

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Defendants’ policies and practices including refusing to deliver
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Case 2:11-cv-00907-JAM -DAD Document 49

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PLN publications and mailings to prisoners because they contained

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staples and/or a mailing label are not supported by a legitimate

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penological interest and do not leave open alternative means for

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PLN to exercise its First Amendment rights.

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PLN to be delivered to prisoners in the Sacramento County’s jails

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would have very limited impact on guards and other inmates, and

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there are obvious, easy alternatives to Defendants’ bans on PLN’s

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staples and mailing labels.

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exaggerated response to any security concerns posed by PLN.

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Furthermore, allowing

In short, Defendants’ policies are an

Plaintiff has demonstrated that it will suffer irreparable

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harm in the absence of preliminary injunctive relief and the

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balance of hardships tips in Plaintiff’s favor.

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Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, constitutes

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irreparable injury.

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established rights to send publications to prisoners.

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a preliminary injunction will not cause irreparable harm to the

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Defendants.

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favor.

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The loss of First

Here, Defendants have infringed on Plaintiff’s
The grant of

The balance of equities therefore tips in Plaintiff’s

Finally, the preliminary injunction set forth below is in the

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public interest.

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on PLN publications.

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promotes the public interest.

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Defendants’ policies operated as a de facto ban
Protecting the constitutional rights of PLN

The preliminary injunction set forth below is narrowly drawn,

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extends no further than necessary to correct the harm to PLN the

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Court finds requires preliminary relief, and is the least intrusive

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means necessary to correct that harm.

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In these circumstances, waiver of the bond requirement is
appropriate because Plaintiff is a small non-profit organization
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Case 2:11-cv-00907-JAM -DAD Document 49
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Filed 03/08/12 Page 3 of 4

with limited resources.

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ORDER
1.

It is HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for

Preliminary Injunction is granted.
2.

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DEFINITIONS:
(a)

As used herein, STAPLES shall mean the type of

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light-duty small wire fasteners commonly used to attach a few

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sheets of paper, and used by the Plaintiff to bind the sheets of

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its monthly publication.

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(b)

As used herein, MAIL LABELS shall mean the type of

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self-adhesive sticker used by PLN to affix an address to an item of

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printed matter.

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3.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants County of

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Sacramento (the “County”) and Scott R. Jones, and their successors,

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officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and all

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others in active concert or participation with them (hereinafter

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referred to collectively as “Defendants”), shall not refuse to

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deliver PLN publications or mailings to prisoners at the county’s

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jails on the ground that these publications or mailings contain

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STAPLES, PROVIDED that Defendants may comply by removing the

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STAPLES.

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4.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants shall not refuse to

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deliver materials sent to prisoners from PLN because of MAILING

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LABELS, PROVIDED that Defendants may comply by removing the MAILING

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LABELS.

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5.

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IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants shall provide

adequate written notice and an administrative appeal process to PLN
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when Defendants refuse to deliver PLN publications or mailings to

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prisoners at the County’s jails.

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6.

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waived.

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IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the bond requirement is

No person who has notice of this injunction shall fail to

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comply with it, nor shall any person subvert the injunction by any

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sham, indirection or other artifice.

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IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: March 8, 2012

____________________________
JOHN A. MENDEZ,
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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