Harrod v. Halford, No. 85-1060

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore LAY, Chief Judge, HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judge, and WOLLMAN; PER CURIAM
Citation773 F.2d 234
PartiesVictor James HARROD, Jr., Appellant, v. Sally HALFORD and Steve R. Foree, Jail Superintendent, Appellees.
Decision Date26 December 1985
Docket NumberNo. 85-1060

Page 234

773 F.2d 234
Victor James HARROD, Jr., Appellant,
v.
Sally HALFORD and Steve R. Foree, Jail Superintendent, Appellees.
No. 85-1060.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eighth Circuit.
Submitted Sept. 10, 1985.
Decided Sept. 20, 1985.
As Amended on Denial of Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Dec. 26, 1985.

Gary L. Dolan, Lincoln, Neb., for appellant.

Michael E. They, Lincoln, Neb., for appellees.

Before LAY, Chief Judge, HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judge, and WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.

PER CURIAM.

This is a jail inmate mail case. Victor James Harrod, Jr. argues that the mail policy which allows jail officials to open legal mail outside his presence if it is not marked privileged, or with similar markings, violates his first, sixth and fourteenth amendment rights. The district court 1 held that the mail policy was not unconstitutional, and since the letters involved in this dispute were not properly marked there was no violation of Harrod's rights. We affirm.

Page 235

Harrod was incarcerated in the Lancaster County Intake and Detention Facility as a pre-trial detainee from September, 1983 until March, 1984. While he was in jail he received numerous pieces of mail. The mail policy states that general mail will be opened outside the inmate's presence and searched for contraband, but will not be read. Letters from designated sources (legal mail), such as attorneys, courts and government officials, which are marked confidential, attorney/client privilege, or with some similar marking, are opened only in the presence of the inmate, but again are not read by jail officials. Harrod appears to have received eight pieces of mail from the clerk of the district court, one from a district judge, four from a magistrate, one from the United States Department of Justice, three from the Lancaster Corrections Department, one from the Bureau of Community Correctional Services, and five from a law firm. Each letter was clearly marked with a return address from a legal source, but none was stamped confidential. (Three were marked "priority mail.") Communications from federal court officials were mailed in franked envelopes which under the respective return addresses bore in small print the legend "Official Business - Penalty for Private Use $300." In conformity with the mail policy, jail officials opened the letters outside Harrod's presence to inspect for contraband. Harrod argues that opening these letters outside his presence violated his constitutional rights.

He argues that since the letters were clearly from legal sources the requirement that the letters be specially marked "confidential" or with similar markings is an unnecessary burden on his constitutional rights. He alleges that it interferes with the sender's intended communication, in violation of his first amendment rights, and that it is an unnecessary burden on his sixth and fourteenth amendment rights to effective counsel and access to the courts. Harrod does not dispute that the jailers have the right to open his letters to look for contraband. He argues only that mail from a legal source is almost always confidential, and therefore requiring special markings is an unnecessary burden on his constitutional rights.

The purpose of opening mail in the inmate's presence is to protect his attorney/client...

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25 practice notes
  • Moore v. Schuetzle, No. A4-01-038.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of North Dakota
    • 2 Febrero 2005
    ...is to be considered "legal mail" for the purposes of constitutional protection. However, the Eighth Circuit in Harrod v. Halford, 773 F.2d 234, 236 (8th Cir.1985), held that "the mere fact that a letter comes from a legal source is insufficient to indicate that it is confidential and requir......
  • Knop v. Johnson, No. G84-651.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • 10 Agosto 1987
    ...mail be clearly identified as legal mail adequately informs prison officials that it may require special handling. See Harrod v. Halford, 773 F.2d 234 (8th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 106 S.Ct. 2254, 90 L.Ed.2d 699 (1986). The Court believes that the SPSM's system for handling p......
  • Parrish v. Johnson, No. 84-1642
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 5 Septiembre 1986
    ...cert. denied, 418 U.S. 910, 94 S.Ct. 3202, 41 L.Ed.2d 1156 (1974); Smith v. Robbins, 454 F.2d 696 (1st Cir.1972); see Harrod v. Halford, 773 F.2d 234, 236 n. 1 (8th Cir.1985) (per curiam), cert. denied --- U.S. ----, 106 S.Ct. 2254, 90 L.Ed.2d 699 (1986); but see Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2......
  • Moore v. Schuetzle, No. 1:06-cv-079.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of North Dakota
    • 18 Mayo 2007
    ...is to be considered "legal mail" for the purposes of constitutional protection. However, the Eighth Circuit in Harrod v. Halford, 773 F.2d 234, 236 (8th Cir.1985), held that "the mere fact that a letter comes from a legal source is insufficient to indicate that it is confidential and requir......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Moore v. Schuetzle, No. A4-01-038.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of North Dakota
    • 2 Febrero 2005
    ...is to be considered "legal mail" for the purposes of constitutional protection. However, the Eighth Circuit in Harrod v. Halford, 773 F.2d 234, 236 (8th Cir.1985), held that "the mere fact that a letter comes from a legal source is insufficient to indicate that it is confidential and requir......
  • Knop v. Johnson, No. G84-651.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • 10 Agosto 1987
    ...mail be clearly identified as legal mail adequately informs prison officials that it may require special handling. See Harrod v. Halford, 773 F.2d 234 (8th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 106 S.Ct. 2254, 90 L.Ed.2d 699 (1986). The Court believes that the SPSM's system for handling p......
  • Parrish v. Johnson, No. 84-1642
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 5 Septiembre 1986
    ...cert. denied, 418 U.S. 910, 94 S.Ct. 3202, 41 L.Ed.2d 1156 (1974); Smith v. Robbins, 454 F.2d 696 (1st Cir.1972); see Harrod v. Halford, 773 F.2d 234, 236 n. 1 (8th Cir.1985) (per curiam), cert. denied --- U.S. ----, 106 S.Ct. 2254, 90 L.Ed.2d 699 (1986); but see Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2......
  • Moore v. Schuetzle, No. 1:06-cv-079.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of North Dakota
    • 18 Mayo 2007
    ...is to be considered "legal mail" for the purposes of constitutional protection. However, the Eighth Circuit in Harrod v. Halford, 773 F.2d 234, 236 (8th Cir.1985), held that "the mere fact that a letter comes from a legal source is insufficient to indicate that it is confidential and requir......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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