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Prison Legal News v. Corrections Corporation of America (Travis County, TX - CCA), Petition for Writ of Mandamus 2013

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Filed
13 May 1 A9:51
Amalia Rodriguez-Mendoza
District Clerk
Travis District
D-1-GN-13-001445

No.
PRISON LEGAL NEWS,
Plaintiff
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF
AMERICA
Defendant.

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IN THE DISTRICT COURT

OF TRAVIS COUNTY

JUDICIAL DISTRICT

PLAINTIFF’S PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
Prison Legal News is non-profit organization dedicated to protecting prisoners’
constitutional and human rights. It seeks to enforce its right under state law to investigate
patterns of unconscionable and unconstitutional conditions in corporate-run jails.
STATEMENT OF CLAIM
1. Privately-operated prisons and jails are notorious for their abhorrent conditions.
Although they perform a government function, they are driven by a profit model that cuts costs
for the benefit of shareholders and to the detriment of basic services, security, and oversight.
Prison Legal News seeks to enforce its rights under the Public Information Act to investigate
details about these facilities in Texas.
DISCOVERY
2. Discovery will be conducted under Level 2 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
PARTIES
3. Prison Legal News is a subsidiary of the Human Rights Defense Center, a non-profit, taxexempt corporation. HRDC’s mission is centered on public education, prisoner education, and
advocacy in support of basic human rights.
4. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is a private, for-profit corporation hired to
operate prisons and jails in Texas under state and county contracts. Its principal place of business
is Nashville, Tennessee. CCA can be served through its registered agent for service of process,

CT Corporation System, 350 N. St. Paul St., Ste 2900, Dallas, Texas 75201-4234. Service is
requested.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
5. This action is brought pursuant to Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code and
Chapter 37 of the Civil Practice & Remedies Code.
6. This Court has personal jurisdiction over CCA because it does business in the Texas. It
operates many prisons and jails under contract with the state and counties. It hires employees in
Texas and commits torts in Texas. It is subject to this Court’s jurisdiction. TEX. CIV. PRAC. &
REM. CODE § 17.042.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
7. Prison Legal News publishes a 64-page, monthly magazine with cutting-edge review and
analysis of prisoner rights, court rulings and prison issues. Its circulation is approximately 7,000
hardcopies per month, and includes subscribers in all 50 states and abroad.
8. The information offered by Prison Legal News enables prisoners, civil rights advocates,
and organizations to protect prisoners’ rights at the grass roots level. It is in a unique position to
investigate, document, and publicize the nationwide abuses of a corporation like CCA.
9. Prison Legal News has sought and received public records from CCA in other states
using those states’ open records laws, including in CCA’s home, Tennessee. See Friedmann v.
Corrections Corp. of America, 310 S.W.3d 366 (Tenn.App. 2009); clarified by 2013 WL
784584 (Tenn.App. 2013).
10. On March 1, 2013, Prison Legal News, through local counsel, sent a detailed open
records request to CCA via its Texas representatives. It sought records of:
Contracts between CCA, the state, and local counties and municipalities
Petitions from lawsuits filed against CCA in Texas
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Settlements, verdicts, and injunctive orders entered against CCA in Texas.
11. CCA ignored Texas law and disregarded the request, producing nothing.
CAUSE OF ACTION: TEXAS PUBLIC INFORMATION ACT
12. The Public Information Act (PIA) provides:
Under the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of
representative government that adheres to the principle that government is the
servant and not the master of the people, it is the policy of this state that each
person is entitled … at all times to complete information about the affairs of
government and the official acts of public officials and employees. The people, in
delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is
good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people
insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments
they have created.
Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.001(a). Requests for information are to be “liberally construed in
favor of granting a request for information.” Id. § 552.001(b).
13. CCA is a “government body,” as defined by the PIA. It is supported by public funds and
performs a function “traditionally provided by governmental bodies” – incarceration.

See

Attorney General Opinion JM-821 (1987).
14. Records of settlements, jury verdicts, and injunctive relief entered against a government
body are public information, by definition. TEX. GOV’T CODE § 552.022 (17)-(18).
15. Texas Government Code § 552.321 states “a requestor [of public information] … may
file suit for a writ of mandamus compelling a governmental body to make information available
for public inspection if the governmental body … refuses to supply public information.”
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
16. Prison Legal News is entitled to a declaratory judgment concerning CCA’s violation of
the Public Information Act. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE 37.

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ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND COSTS
17. Prison Legal News is entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs under Texas Government Code
§ 552.323(a) and the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code 37.009.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
Therefore, Plaintiff respectfully prays the Court:
A. Enter a writ of mandamus requiring the Defendant to make public and provide to
Plaintiff all information responsive to the request;
B. Grant declaratory relief stating the Defendant violated Plaintiff’s rights under the
Public Information Act;
C. Grant reasonable attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses and court costs ; and,
D. Grant all other relief as appears reasonable and just, to which Plaintiff may be
entitled.
Dated: May 1, 2013
Respectfully submitted,
Brian McGiverin
Texas Bar. No. 24067760
Scott Medlock
Texas Bar No. 24044783
James C. Harrington
Texas Bar No. 09048500
TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT
1405 Montopolis Dr.
Austin, TX 78741
Tel. (512) 474-5073
Fax (512) 474-0726
ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF

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