354 F.Supp. 1092 (N.D.Cal. 1973), C-71 543, Martinez v. Procunier

Docket Nº:C-71 543 ACW.
Citation:354 F.Supp. 1092
Party Name:Robert MARTINEZ and Wayne Earley et al., Plaintiffs, v. Raymond K. PROCUNIER et al., Defendants.
Case Date:February 02, 1973
Court:United States District Courts, 9th Circuit

Page 1092

354 F.Supp. 1092 (N.D.Cal. 1973)

Robert MARTINEZ and Wayne Earley et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

Raymond K. PROCUNIER et al., Defendants.

No. C-71 543 ACW.

United States District Court, D. California.

Feb. 2, 1973

Page 1093

William Bennett Turner, Lowell Johnston, Julian J. Fowles, Alice Daniel, Hastings College of Law, Mario Obledo, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., San Francisco, Cal., for plaintiffs.

Thomas A. Brady, Edw. A. Hinz, Jr., Doris H. Maier, Robert R. Granucci, Deputy Attys. Gen., San Francisco, Cal., for Evelle J. Younger, Atty. Gen.

Before DUNIWAY, Circuit Judge, and ZIRPOLI and WOLLENBERG, District Judges.

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND PARTIALLY GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

PER CURIAM.

This suit is a class action brought on behalf of all inmates of penal institutions under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections [CDC], challenging certain rules of statewide application relating to mail censorship and attorney-client interviews conducted by law students or other paraprofessionals. The jurisdiction of this Court is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(3), 1343(4), 2201 and 2281, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.

The action is presently before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. The record before the Court consists of the amended complaint, the moving papers of the parties, affidavits, depositions, interrogatories and admissions.

The amended complaint sets forth five separate claims for relief. Count I alleges that Director's Rules 1201, 1205(d) and (f), and 2402(8) violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution insofar as they restrict the permissible content of inmates letters to personal correspondents. Count II alleges that the

Page 1094

rules set forth in Count I and § MV-I-02 of the Director's Mail and Visiting Manual violate the First, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments as applied to correspondence between inmates and their attorneys. Count III alleges that § MV-IV-02 of the Director's Mail and Visiting Manual violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by permitting only licensed private investigators and members of the State Bar to interview inmates on behalf of the attorney of record. Count IV alleges that Rule 2402(10) which requires that an inmate obtain permission before sending registered or certified mail violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Count V raises an individual claim, alleging abuse of Rule 2402(13) in that plaintiff Martinez was not permitted to correspond with his former co-defendant in order to secure an affidavit he hoped to use in challenging his conviction. The rule itself is not challenged.

Two counts of the complaint need not be considered by this Court. Count V deals only with an alleged abuse in the application of a director's rule; it does not question the validity of the rule itself. Accordingly, the issue is one that should be dealt with by a single judge district court. The second count this Court need not consider is Count IV. At oral argument the Court was informed by counsel for defendants that Director's Rule 2402(10) will be completely omitted from forthcoming revised regulations, and once these regulations are adopted the prisons will not restrict the use of registered and certified mail by prisoners. On the ground that this issue will soon be mooted, defendants asked that the Court not rule upon the validity of the present regulation. The Court, therefore, does not reach this question.

DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

In addition to the somewhat more specific arguments addressed to each count of the complaint, defendants raise two basic contentions in support of their motion to dismiss. First, they contend that the claims raised in the complaint involve questions of internal prison administration over which correctional authorities traditionally have wide discretion. Smith v. Schneckloth, 414 F.2d 680, 681 (9th Cir. 1969). The Supreme Court responded to a similar contention in Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483, 486, 89 S.Ct. 747, 749, 21 L.Ed.2d 718 (1969):

"There is no doubt that discipline and administration of state detention facilities are state functions. They are subject to federal authority only where paramount federal constitutional or statutory rights supervene. It is clear, however, that in instances where state regulations applicable to inmates of prison facilities conflict with such rights, the regulations may be invalidated."

Accord, Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 321, 92 S.Ct. 1079, 31 L.Ed.2d 263 (1972). Hence, in alleging violations of inmates rights under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, plaintiffs have stated a claim that this Court must consider.

Defendants' second contention is that even if jurisdiction is proper and a claim cognizable in federal court has been alleged, the Court should nevertheless abstain. Defendants admit that exhaustion of state remedies is not required under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but suggest that since equitable relief has been requested, the Court should defer to the California courts on the basis of comity. Reetz v. Bozanich, 397 U.S. 82, 90 S.Ct. 788, 25 L.Ed.2d 68 (1970).

In Lake Carrier's Ass'n v. MacMullan, 406 U.S. 498, 509-510, 92 S.Ct. 1749, 32 L.Ed.2d 257 (1972), the Supreme Court, as it had done before, specifically rejected the argument that the possibility a state court suit might result in a law being declared unconstitutional is not grounds for abstaining. Rather, abstention is proper only in the "narrowly limited 'special circumstances"' that exist when the state law

Page 1095

could be interpreted in a manner that would render it constitutional. Id., Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241, 248, 88 S.Ct. 391, 19 L.Ed.2d 444 (1971). "Where there is no ambiguity in the state statute, the federal court should not abstain but should proceed to decide the federal constitutional claim." Wisconsin v. Constantineau, 400 U.S. 433, 439, 91 S.Ct. 507, 511, 27 L.Ed.2d 515 (1971).

Finally, defendants argue that regardless of the validity of the motion to dismiss the other claims, Count II must be dismissed, because the question raised was resolved in In re Jordan, 7 Cal.3d 930, 103 Cal.Rptr. 849, 500 P.2d 873 (1972). The question raised is, as defendants argue, now moot, and defendants' motion to dismiss Count II is, therefore, granted.

PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT: COUNT I

Plaintiffs challenge the following Director's Rules as infringing on their freedom of speech: Rule 1201 directs inmates not to "agitate, unduly complain, magnify grievances, or behave in any way which might lead to violence." 1 Rules 1205(d) and (f) define contraband, as "any writings ... expressing inflammatory political, racial, religious, or other views or beliefs .... which if circulated among other inmates, would in the judgment of the warden or superintendent tend to subvert prison order or discipline." 2 Rule 2402(8) provides that inmates "may not send or receive letters that pertain to criminal activity; are lewd, obscene, or defamatory; contain foreign matter, or are otherwise inappropriate." 3

These rules implement CDC's general policy towards prisoner mail, which is set forth in Rule 2401:

"The sending and receiving of mail is a privilege, not a right, and any violation of the rules governing mail privileges either by you or by your correspondents may cause suspension of the mail privileges."

The rules are enforced by mailroom staff and other employees of the prison who routinely read incoming and outgoing "personal" 4 mail of prisoners.

No standards, other than those contained in the rules set forth above, are furnished to the mailroom staff to help them decide whether a particular letter violates any prison rule or policy. If a letter is found to be improper correspondence, a CDC employee may take one or more of the following actions: (a) he may refuse to mail the letter and return

Page 1096

it to the prisoner; (b) he may submit a disciplinary report, which may lead to suspension of the prisoner's mail privileges or to other, possibly more severe disciplinary punishment; or, (c) he may photocopy the letter and place it in the prisoner's permanent file where it will be available to classification committees, which determine housing and work assignments, and to the Adult Authority, which sets a date for the prisoner's parole eligibility.

Plaintiffs raise several challenges to these regulations, all based on the First Amendment. Before discussing them, however, it is appropriate to examine the applicability of First Amendment rights to prison inmates in more general terms. The majority of recent cases treating the problem have adopted the formulation of the court in Carothers v. Follette, 314 F.Supp. 1014, 1024 (S.D.N.Y.1970): "[A]ny prison regulation or practice which restricts the right of free expression that a prisoner would have enjoyed if he had not been imprisoned must be related both reasonably [citations omitted] and necessarily [citations omitted] to the advancement of some justifiable purpose of imprisonment." See Gray v. Creamer, 465 F.2d 179, 186 (3d Cir. 1972); Wilkinson v. Skinner, 462 F.2d 670, 671 (2d Cir. 1972); Nolan v. Fitzpatrick, 451 F.2d 545 (1st Cir. 1971); Barnett v. Rodgers, 133 U.S.App.D.C. 296, 410 F.2d 995, 1000 (D.C.Cir. 1969); Jackson v. Godwin, 400 F.2d 529, 541 (5th Cir. 1968); Gates v. Collier, 349 F.Supp. 881, 896 (N.D.Miss. 1972); Palmigiano v. Travisono, 317 F.Supp. 776, 785 (D.R.I. 1970)); cf. Guajardo v. McAdams, 349 F.Supp. 211 (S.D.Tex.1972); Brenneman v. Madigan, 343 F.Supp. 128, 141-142 (N.D. Cal. 1972); Burnham v. Oswald, 342 F.Supp. 880 (W.D. N.Y. 1972); Hillery v. Procunier, C-71 2150 SW (N.D. Cal. 1972) (judgment...

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13 practice notes
  • 364 F.Supp. 196 (N.D.Cal. 1973), C-71-2150, Hillery v. Procunier
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit Northern District of California
    • 16 de Agosto de 1973
    ...342 F.Supp. at 885, Fortune Society v. McGinnis, 319 F.Supp. 901, 904 (S.D.N.Y.1970), Seale v. Manson, supra. Cf. Martinez v. Procunier, 354 F.Supp. 1092 (N.D.Cal.1973) (three-judge court), at pp. 7-8), despite language used by other courts, in dealing with similar cases, that at first glan......
  • 434 U.S. 555 (1978), 76-446, Procunier v. Navarette
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • 22 de Fevereiro de 1978
    ...the Court of Appeals relied on two of its own decisions, one in 1973 and the other in 1974, as well as upon Martinez v. Procunier, 354 F.Supp. 1092 (ND Cal.), a 1973 three-judge court opinion with which the Court of Appeals said it was in essential agreement. The court relied on no earlier ......
  • 514 F.2d 1091 (9th Cir. 1975), 74-2309, Holder v. Nelson
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • 29 de Abril de 1975
    ...court decision), aff'd sub nom., Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15, 92 S.Ct. 250, 30 L.Ed.2d 142 (1971). See also Martinez v. Procunier, 354 F.Supp. 1092 (N.D.Cal.1973), aff'd sub nom., Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 94 S.Ct. 1800, 40 L.Ed.2d 224 (1974). Since a dismissal for failure to......
  • 416 U.S. 396 (1974), 72-1465, Procunier v. Martinez
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • 29 de Abril de 1974
    ...constituted an unjustifiable restriction on the inmates' right of access to the courts. Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483. Pp. 419-422. 354 F.Supp. 1092, POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., ......
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13 cases
  • 364 F.Supp. 196 (N.D.Cal. 1973), C-71-2150, Hillery v. Procunier
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit Northern District of California
    • 16 de Agosto de 1973
    ...342 F.Supp. at 885, Fortune Society v. McGinnis, 319 F.Supp. 901, 904 (S.D.N.Y.1970), Seale v. Manson, supra. Cf. Martinez v. Procunier, 354 F.Supp. 1092 (N.D.Cal.1973) (three-judge court), at pp. 7-8), despite language used by other courts, in dealing with similar cases, that at first glan......
  • 434 U.S. 555 (1978), 76-446, Procunier v. Navarette
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • 22 de Fevereiro de 1978
    ...the Court of Appeals relied on two of its own decisions, one in 1973 and the other in 1974, as well as upon Martinez v. Procunier, 354 F.Supp. 1092 (ND Cal.), a 1973 three-judge court opinion with which the Court of Appeals said it was in essential agreement. The court relied on no earlier ......
  • 514 F.2d 1091 (9th Cir. 1975), 74-2309, Holder v. Nelson
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • 29 de Abril de 1975
    ...court decision), aff'd sub nom., Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U.S. 15, 92 S.Ct. 250, 30 L.Ed.2d 142 (1971). See also Martinez v. Procunier, 354 F.Supp. 1092 (N.D.Cal.1973), aff'd sub nom., Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 94 S.Ct. 1800, 40 L.Ed.2d 224 (1974). Since a dismissal for failure to......
  • 416 U.S. 396 (1974), 72-1465, Procunier v. Martinez
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • 29 de Abril de 1974
    ...constituted an unjustifiable restriction on the inmates' right of access to the courts. Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483. Pp. 419-422. 354 F.Supp. 1092, POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., ......
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