Skip navigation
Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News v. Kenosha County 2013

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN, MILWAUKEE DIVISION
PRISON LEGAL NEWS, a project of
the HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER,

)
)
)
Plaintiff,
)
)
v.
)
)
DAVID G. BETH, individually and in )
his official capacity as SHERIFF
)
OF THE KENOSHA COUNTY SHERIFF’S
)
DEPARTMENT; CAPTAIN ROBERT HALLISY,)
individually and in his official
)
capacity as DETENTIONS COMMANDER
)
OF THE DETENTIONS DIVISION OF THE )
KENOSHA COUNTY SHERIFF’S
)
DEPARTMENT; KENOSHA COUNTY; and
)
the KENOSHA COUNTY SHERIFF’S
)
DEPARTMENT,
)
)
Defendants.
)

Case No.

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

COMPLAINT
NOW COMES Plaintiff, PRISON LEGAL NEWS, by and through its
attorneys, the Human Rights Defense Center and Loevy & Loevy,
and complaining of Defendants, David G. Beth, Sheriff, Kenosha
County Sheriff’s Department; Captain Robert Hallisy, Detentions
Commander, Detentions Division of the Kenosha County Sheriff’s
Department, Kenosha County; and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s
Department, and states as follows:
Introduction
1.

Plaintiff, Prison Legal News, a project of the Human

Rights Defense Center, brings this action to enjoin Defendants’
censorship of its monthly publication, books, and other

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 1 of 13 Document 1

correspondence mailed to individual prisoners who are held in
custody at the Kenosha County Detentions Center, in violation of
the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
Constitution.

Defendants’ have adopted and implemented mail

policies that unconstitutionally prohibit delivery to prisoners
of any sort of periodical, magazine, book, or other publication,
such as those published by Plaintiff.

Defendants’ policies and

practices do not afford the sender of censored mail due process
notice and/or an opportunity to challenge the censorship as
required by the Constitution.

Nor is the challenged policy in

any way related to a legitimate penological interest.
Jurisdiction and Venue
2.

This action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.

Section 1983 to redress the deprivation under color of law of
Plaintiff's rights as secured by the United States Constitution.
3.

This Court has jurisdiction of the action pursuant to

28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343.
4.

Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

On

information and belief, at least one Defendant resides within
this judicial district, and the events giving rise to the claims
asserted herein all occurred within this judicial district.

2

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 2 of 13 Document 1

Parties
5.

Prison Legal News (“PLN”) is a project of the Human

Rights Defense Center (“HRDC”), a Washington non-profit
corporation.

PLN publishes and distributes a monthly journal of

corrections news and analysis and certain books about the
criminal justice system and about legal issues affecting
prisoners, to prisoners, lawyers, courts, libraries, and the
general public throughout the country.

PLN also maintains a

website (www.prisonlegalnews.org) and operates an email listserve.

The core of HRDC’s mission is public education, prisoner

education, advocacy, and outreach in support of the rights of
prisoners and in furtherance of basic human rights.

Prisoners

of all types, their family and friends, and prisoner advocates,
are among the intended beneficiaries of PLN’s activities.
6.

Defendant Kenosha County is a county of the State of

Wisconsin.

It oversees the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department,

which, in turn, operates the Kenosha County Detention Center and
the Kenosha County Adult Pre-Trial Detention Center.
7.

Defendant the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department is a

department of Kenosha County and operates through its Detentions
Division the Kenosha County Detention Center and the Kenosha
County Adult Pre-Trial Detention Center (collectively, the
3

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 3 of 13 Document 1

“Kenosha County Jail”).
8.

At all times relevant to the events at issue in this

case, Defendant David G. Beth was employed by the Kenosha County
Sheriff’s Department in the capacity of Sheriff.

As such,

Defendant Beth was acting under color of law.
9.

At all times relevant to the events at issue in this

case, Defendant Beth was responsible for the operation of the
Kenosha County Jail.

Defendant Beth promulgated rules,

regulations, policies, and procedures as Sheriff of Kenosha
County regarding all Kenosha County Jail mail services.
Defendant Beth’s policies and procedures were implemented by and
through employees and/or agents of the Kenosha County Jail.
10.

At all times relevant to the events at issue in this

case, Defendant Beth also promulgated rules, regulations,
policies, and procedures for the training and supervision of all
Kenosha County Jail employees and/or agents regarding all
Kenosha County Jail mail services.
11.

At all times relevant to the events at issue in this

case, Defendant Beth, as Sheriff of Kenosha County, was the
final policymaker for the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department
and the Kenosha County Jail.

4

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 4 of 13 Document 1

12.

At all times relevant to the events at issue in this

case, Defendant Captain Robert Hallisy, was employed by the
Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department as the Detentions Commander
of the Kenosha County Jail.
acting under color of law.

As such, Defendant Hallisy was
On information and belief, Defendant

Hallisy was responsible for and/or personally participated in,
creating, implementing, and enforcing the mail policies of the
Kenosha County Jail.
Factual Allegations
13.

Prison Legal News publishes and distributes a soft-

cover monthly journal of the same name containing corrections
news and analysis about prisoner rights, court rulings,
management of prison facilities, prison conditions, and other
matters pertaining to the rights and/or interests of
incarcerated individuals.

PLN also publishes and distributes

paperback books about the criminal justice system and legal
issues affecting prisoners.
14.

Prison Legal News has approximately 7,000 subscribers

in the United States and abroad, including prisoners, attorneys,
journalists, public libraries, judges, and members of the
general public.

PLN distributes its monthly publication to

prisoners and law librarians in approximately 2,200 correctional
5

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 5 of 13 Document 1

facilities located across all fifty states, including the
Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Wisconsin Department of
Corrections.
15.

Prison Legal News engages in core protected speech and

expressive conduct on matters of public concern, such as the
operation of prison facilities, prison conditions, prisoner
health and safety, and prisoner rights.
16.

Since February 2012, PLN has mailed copies of its

monthly publication Prison Legal News, as well as subscription
information, informational brochures, and soft-cover books like
Protecting Your Health and Safety to at least 29 different
prisoners housed at the Kenosha County Jail.

Each item of mail

referenced herein was addressed individually to a specific
prisoner.
17.

Defendants have rejected these publications pursuant

to a policy – adopted and promulgated by the Defendants - that
indiscriminately bars books and magazines of all kinds from
entering the Kenosha County Jail via the Jail’s mail system.
18.

These rejected items have been returned to Plaintiff

with red stamps that read “Refused” and “Return to Sender,”
accompanied by a white sticker with a checked box that indicates
“No Books/Magazines.”

Other returned items have included
6

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 6 of 13 Document 1

handwritten notations such as “Not Allowed,” “No books allowed,”
or “Books and Mags refused.”
19.

From February, 2012 to the present, approximately

forty-eight items properly addressed to specific inmates at
Kenosha County Jail have been returned to PLN in the manner
described above.
20.

Prison Legal News has received several letters from

inmates at Kenosha County Jail indicating that they have not
received any of the materials that PLN sent to them.

A number

of these inmates have received Non Allowable Mail Processing
Reports that state that books and magazines are not allowed at
Kenosha County Jail via the mail.

At least one inmate filed a

formal grievance with Kenosha County Jail officials to protest
the censorship of his incoming mail but, on information and
belief, he has yet to receive any response to his grievance.
21.

PLN currently mails issues of Prison Legal News to

seventeen inmate subscribers at the Kenosha County Jail.

PLN

intends to continue to mail monthly copies of Prison Legal News
to these inmates.
22.

There is no legitimate purpose – penological or

otherwise – in refusing inmates access to these publications.

7

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 7 of 13 Document 1

23.

Defendants did not provide Prison Legal News due

process notice or an opportunity to appeal their censorship
decisions.
24.

The accommodation of the free speech, expression, and

due process rights of Plaintiff with respect to materials
protected by the Constitution and provided to inmates at the
Kenosha County Jail will not have any significant impact on the
Jail.
25.

Due to Defendants’ actions as described above,

Plaintiff has suffered damages, and will continue to suffer
damages, including, but not limited to: the violation of the
Plaintiff’s constitutional rights; the impediment of Plaintiff’s
ability to disseminate its political message; frustration of
Plaintiff’s non-profit organizational mission; diversion of
resources; loss of potential subscribers and customers; an
inability to recruit new subscribers and supporters; the loss of
reputation; and the costs of printing, handling, mailing, and
staff time.
Claims
Count I – 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Violation of the First Amendment
26.

Each paragraph of this Complaint is incorporated as if

restated fully herein.
8

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 8 of 13 Document 1

27.

The acts described above constitute violations of

Plaintiffs rights, the rights of other correspondents who have
attempted to or intend to correspond with prisoners at the
Kenosha County Jail, and the rights of prisoners confined at the
Kenosha County Jail, under the First Amendment of the United
States Constitution.
28.

Plaintiff has a constitutionally protected liberty

interest in communicating with incarcerated individuals, a right
clearly established under existing case law.
29.

The conduct of Defendants was objectively unreasonable

and was undertaken intentionally with malice, willfulness, and
reckless indifference to the rights of others.
30.

Plaintiff’s injuries and the violations of his

constitutional rights were directly and proximately caused by
the policies and practices of Kenosha County, the Kenosha County
Sheriff’s Department, and Kenosha County Sheriff Beth.
31.

The acts described above have caused damages to

Plaintiff, and if not enjoined, will continue to cause damage to
Plaintiff.
32.

Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, and

nominal and compensatory damages against all Defendants.
9

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 9 of 13 Document 1

Plaintiff seeks punitive damages against the individual
Defendants in their individual capacities.
Count II – 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Violation of the Fourteenth Amendment
33.

Each paragraph of this Complaint is incorporated as if

restated fully herein.
34.

The acts described above constitute violations of

Plaintiffs rights, the rights of other correspondents who have
attempted to or intend to correspond with prisoners at the
Kenosha County Jail, and the rights of prisoners confined at the
Kenosha County Jail, under the Fourteenth Amendment of the
United States Constitution.
35.

Plaintiff has a right under the Due Process Clause of

the Fourteenth Amendment to receive notice and the opportunity
to object and/or appeal Defendants’ decision to prevent PLN’s
publications from reaching their subscribers.
36.

Defendants’ policy and practice of banning Prison

Legal News, as well as the books and pamphlets distributed by
PLN, fail to provide Plaintiff with individualized notice or an
opportunity to be heard.
37.

The conduct of Defendants was objectively unreasonable

and was undertaken intentionally with malice, willfulness, and
reckless indifference to the rights of others.
10

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 10 of 13 Document 1

38.

Plaintiff’s injuries and the violations of his

constitutional rights were directly and proximately caused by
the policies and practices of Kenosha County, the Kenosha County
Sheriff’s Department, and Kenosha County Sheriff Beth.
39.

The acts described above have caused damages to

Plaintiff, and if not enjoined, will continue to cause damage to
Plaintiff.
40.

Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, and

nominal and compensatory damages against all Defendants.
Plaintiff seeks punitive damages against the individual
Defendants in their individual capacities.
Injunctive Allegations
41.

Defendants’ unconstitutional policies and practices

are ongoing and continue to violate Plaintiff’s constitutional
rights and the rights of other correspondents and prisoners.

As

such, there is no adequate remedy at law.
42.

Plaintiff is entitled to injunctive relief prohibiting

Defendants from refusing to deliver or allow delivery of
publications, books, informational brochures, subscription
forms, book catalogs, book offers, and other correspondence from
Prison Legal News and from other correspondents who send mail to
11

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 11 of 13 Document 1

prisoners confined at the Kenosha County Jail.

Plaintiff is

also entitled to injunctive relief prohibiting Defendants from
censoring mail without due process of law.
Request for Relief
WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff respectfully requests relief as
follows:
43.

A declaration that Defendants’ policies and practices

violate the Constitution.
44.

Nominal damages for each violation of Plaintiff’s

rights by the Defendants.
45.

A preliminary and permanent injunction preventing

Defendants from continuing to violate the Constitution, and
providing other equitable relief.
46.

Compensatory damages in an amount to be proved at

trial.
47.

Punitive damages against the individual Defendants in

an amount to be proved at trial.
48.

Costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, under 42

U.S.C. § 1988, and under other applicable law.
49.

Any other such relief that this Court deems just and

equitable.

12

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 12 of 13 Document 1

Jury Demand
Plaintiff, Prison Legal News, by and through its attorneys,
the Human Rights Defense Center and Loevy & Loevy, hereby
demands a trial by jury pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 38(b) on all issues so triable.

Respectfully Submitted,
/s/ Jon Loevy
One of Plaintiff’s Attorneys
Arthur Loevy
Jon Loevy
Vincenzo Field
LOEVY & LOEVY
312 N. May Street, Ste. 100
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 243-5900
/s/ Lance Weber
Lance Weber
Human Rights Defense Center
PO Box 1151
Lake Worth, Florida 33460
(561) 360-2523

13

Case 2:13-cv-00737-AEG Filed 06/27/13 Page 13 of 13 Document 1



 

Federal Prison Handbook

 

InmateMagazineService.com

 

Advertise here