Smith v. Robbins, No. 71-1277

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
Writing for the CourtALDRICH, , Mc-ENTEE and COFFIN, Circuit
Citation454 F.2d 696
PartiesByron G. SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Allan L. ROBBINS, Warden, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 71-1277,71-1278.
Decision Date18 January 1972

454 F.2d 696 (1972)

Byron G. SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Allan L. ROBBINS, Warden, Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 71-1277, 71-1278.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

Heard January 5, 1972.

Decided January 18, 1972.


Courtland D. Perry, Asst. Atty. Gen., for Allan L. Robbins, Warden.

David J. Halperin, Portland, Me., for Byron G. Smith.

Max D. Stern, John D. Leubsdorf, Foley, Hoag & Eliot, Boston, Mass., Thomas P. Kapantais, Cumberland Center, Me., and Stanley A. Bass, New York City, on the brief for Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc., Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., National Office for the Rights of the Indigent, amici curiae.

Before ALDRICH, Chief Judge, Mc-ENTEE and COFFIN, Circuit Judges.

ALDRICH, Chief Judge.

The primary issue in this case is whether the district court, 328 F.Supp. 162, in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit brought by a state prisoner against his warden, erred in ruling that mail addressed to

454 F.2d 697
the prisoner and adequately shown to be from a member of the state bar may not be opened, to see if the envelope contains contraband, in the absence of the prisoner. By contraband is meant some physical object in addition to the attorney's letter; the warden does not complain of that part of the order which forbids the reading of the letter itself. The warden appeals

The prisoner responds by asking us to modify the order to bar prison officials from opening attorneys' letters at all unless they have reason to suspect that they contain contraband. If there is merit in this contention, there is certainly not enough to cause us to hold that the district court was obliged to accept it. If the prisoner is present, he can see that the letter is not being read. That is enough.

However strongly the warden may feel about a possible indignity to the prison administration in a suggestion by the court that it is not to be trusted not to read the letter, this misses the point. The court does not suggest that the warden is untrustworthy. Rather, it is that a prisoner, and possibly some attorneys, may feel, if only to a small degree, that someone in the chain of command may not be trusted, and that the resulting fear may chill communications between the prisoner and his counsel. Once it is granted, as the warden now concedes, that the prisoner has a right to have the confidence between himself and his counsel totally respected, the burden must be on the warden to show a need for any...

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54 practice notes
  • Adams v. Carlson, No. 73-1268.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 23 Agosto 1973
    ...to tests on incoming mail for the presence of contraband which fall short of opening it when the inmate is not present. Smith v. Robbins, 454 F.2d 696 (1st Cir. 1972); Merritt v. Johnson, No. 38401 (E.D.Mich., Nov. 30, 1972); Marsh v. Moore, 325 F.Supp. 392 (D. Mass.1971) (outgoing mail als......
  • Cooper v. Morin
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • 19 Diciembre 1979
    ...constitutional right and the degree to which it has been impaired' " (quoting Smith v. Robbins, D.C., 328 F.Supp. 162, 164, affd. 1 Cir., 454 F.2d 696), and the Supreme Court itself has adopted it in Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 2800, 41 L.Ed.2d 495, in passing upon the First A......
  • Collins v. Schoonfield, Civ. No. 71-500-K.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • 15 Mayo 1972
    ...F.Supp. 1119 (D.N.H.1971); Landman v. Royster, 333 F.Supp. 621, 657 (E.D.Va. 1971); Smith v. Robbins, 328 F.Supp. 162 (D.Me.1971), aff'd, 454 F.2d 696 (1st Cir. 1972); Sostre v. Rockefeller, 312 F.Supp. 863 46 Pre-Trial Memorandum, pp. 17a-18. 47 See n. 45, supra. 47a In Coleman v. Peyton, ......
  • Brenneman v. Madigan, No. C-70 1911.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • 12 Mayo 1972
    ...88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967). While prison officials may inspect incoming correspondence for contraband, but see Smith v. Robbins, 454 F.2d 696 (1st Cir. 1972), it is difficult to justify any restrictions at all on the amount or 343 F. Supp. 142 content of a pre-trial detainee's outg......
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54 cases
  • Adams v. Carlson, No. 73-1268.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 23 Agosto 1973
    ...to tests on incoming mail for the presence of contraband which fall short of opening it when the inmate is not present. Smith v. Robbins, 454 F.2d 696 (1st Cir. 1972); Merritt v. Johnson, No. 38401 (E.D.Mich., Nov. 30, 1972); Marsh v. Moore, 325 F.Supp. 392 (D. Mass.1971) (outgoing mail als......
  • Cooper v. Morin
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • 19 Diciembre 1979
    ...constitutional right and the degree to which it has been impaired' " (quoting Smith v. Robbins, D.C., 328 F.Supp. 162, 164, affd. 1 Cir., 454 F.2d 696), and the Supreme Court itself has adopted it in Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 2800, 41 L.Ed.2d 495, in passing upon the First A......
  • Collins v. Schoonfield, Civ. No. 71-500-K.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • 15 Mayo 1972
    ...F.Supp. 1119 (D.N.H.1971); Landman v. Royster, 333 F.Supp. 621, 657 (E.D.Va. 1971); Smith v. Robbins, 328 F.Supp. 162 (D.Me.1971), aff'd, 454 F.2d 696 (1st Cir. 1972); Sostre v. Rockefeller, 312 F.Supp. 863 46 Pre-Trial Memorandum, pp. 17a-18. 47 See n. 45, supra. 47a In Coleman v. Peyton, ......
  • Brenneman v. Madigan, No. C-70 1911.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • 12 Mayo 1972
    ...88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967). While prison officials may inspect incoming correspondence for contraband, but see Smith v. Robbins, 454 F.2d 696 (1st Cir. 1972), it is difficult to justify any restrictions at all on the amount or 343 F. Supp. 142 content of a pre-trial detainee's outg......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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