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Requirement of Buzz Words on Envelope of Incoming Legal Mail Killed

A prisoner brought a suit challenging a Bureau of Prisons policy (P.S. 5265.8) mandating that letters from law firms, the courts, or any other communication which is considered privileged, be marked with special buzz words on the outside of the envelope. If the words "Legal/Special Mail - Open Only in Presence of Inmate" are not on the envelope, then the letter would not be recognized as legal and guards would read the letter.

The U.S. District Court ruled that the Bureau of Prisons "is hereby enjoined from opening outside of the plaintiff's presence or reading any incoming mail to him bearing an apparently genuine return address of an attorney, law firm, any court official or any government official, whether or not there are any particular markings on the envelope." The BOP is appealing the case. Stotts v. Meese, Case No. 86-813-CRT-DE, U.S.D.C. Raleigh, NC. The attorney for the prisoner was Marvin Sparrow, P.O. Box 27611, and Raleigh, NC 27611.

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Related legal case

Stotts v. Meese