452 F.2d 1071 (5th Cir. 1971), 71-2002, Andrade v. Hauck

Docket Nº71-2002 [*]
Citation452 F.2d 1071
Party NameEnrique B. ANDRADE, Petitioner-Appellant, v. W. B. (Bill) HAUCK, Sheriff, Respondent-Appellee.
Case DateDecember 20, 1971
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 1071

452 F.2d 1071 (5th Cir. 1971)

Enrique B. ANDRADE, Petitioner-Appellant,


W. B. (Bill) HAUCK, Sheriff, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 71-2002 [*]

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

December 20, 1971

Enrique B. Andrade, pro se.

Crawford C. Martin, Atty. Gen., Austin, Tex., Ted Butler, Crim. Dist. Atty., Lucien B. Campbell, Asst. Crim. Dist. Atty., San Antonio, Tex., for respondent-appellee.

Before John R. BROWN, Chief Judge, and INGRAHAM and RONEY, Circuit Judges.

RONEY, Circuit Judge:

Because it appears that this prisoner may have been deprived of his commissary privileges by his jailers in retaliation for writing to a United States judge, we reverse and remand for a hearing on the merits of his § 1983 complaint.

Enrique Andrade is an inmate of the Bexar County Jail, San Antonio, Texas. In his complaint he states that he has been deprived of access to the jail's commissary. He alleges that Sheriff Hauck deprived him of commissary privileges by way of retribution for writing to a judge of the United States District Court to complain about the way in which the commissary was being operated. The district court denied relief without a hearing, holding that no violation of any constitutional right was alleged. We disagree.

Page 1072

To reach this result, we simply hold that every prisoner has a constitutional right of access to the courts to present any complaints he might have concerning his confinement. He cannot be disciplined in any manner for making a reasonable attempt to exercise that right. Access to the courts is a fundamental precept of our system of government. No citizen, regardless of his transgressions, is ever to be legally consigned to the total and unreviewed power of any single branch of government. To make the system work, to maintain the proper checks and the proper balance, no person subject to the power of government can be denied communication with or access to each of the three spheres of governmental authority. This principle serves the highest interest of government, as much as it serves the needs of the individual.

Andrade's complaint alleges facts which, if proven, might show that defendant deprived him of use of the commissary because he had corresponded with a United States District Judge. Access of prisoners to the courts for the purpose of presenting their complaints may not be denied or...

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