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Utah Jail Censorship Suit Settled for $68,682

On October 28, 1998, a class action suit challenging various censorship rules at the Davis County Jail in Utah was settled for $11,682 in damages and $57,000 In attorney's fees. In 1995 the Davis County Jail enacted policies banning books, newspaper clippings and sexually explicit materials. The latter were defined to mean any material that depicted "any type of nudity." A class action suit was filed claiming that the policy violated the jail prisoners' First amendment rights.

In settling the suit the jail denied any wrongdoing or liability. In June, 1997, the jail changed its policies to allow prisoners to receive books, newspaper clippings and sexually explicit materials.

One hundred named plaintiffs would split a damage award of $11,682. Each plaintiff would receive $1 for each day they spent in the jail while the censorship policy was in effect. If any of the plaintiffs cannot be located within one year of the settlement in order to be paid, their share of the settlement reverts back to the county.

Brian Barnard of the Utah Legal Clinic represented the plaintiffs in this case and he received $57,000 in attorney fees and costs. The damages and fees were paid by the county's insurance company. Mr. Barnard also represents PLN in litigation challenging the Utah DOC's ban on bulk mail publications. Readers should note this is an unpublished settlement and not a ruling on the merits. See: Ayala v. Davis County, Utah, USDC D.UT, Case No. 1:96-CV-00030C.

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Related legal case

Ayala v. Davis Co. Utah