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$7,500 Paid to Settle Delay of Legal Property Suit

On September 27, 1999, District of Columbia federal judge Stanley Sporkin entered judgment on a settlement for $7,500, plus $47.81 in interest, in a lawsuit involving the shipping of a D.C. prisoner's legal property from a Washington state prison to a D.C. prison. Edward Ashford is a D.C. prisoner who was housed at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) in Washington State. While at CBCC he was wrongly placed in administrative segregation. Before he could challenge the underlying disciplinary hearing in Washington state court he was transferred back to the District of Columbia.

CBCC officials attempted to ship Ashford's 14 boxes of legal property to him on three occasions but they did not reach Ashford due to obstruction from D.C. prison officials. Eventually, after 11 months and four attempts, Ashford received his legal materials. During this period the statute of limitations for challenging the Washington, disciplinary hearing had lapsed.

Ashford filed suit against D.C. prison officials claiming that the delay in shipping and delivering his legal materials to him violated his right of access to the courts. Judge Sporkin agreed and in an unpublished ruling, denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the suit. See: Ashford v. District of Columbia, 1997 WL 31008 (DDC).

In settling the suit, the defendants conceded that Ashford had suffered "actual injury" to his court access rights. The damages were computed based on what Ashford would likely have obtained had he successfully sued Washington prison officials for his placement in segregation. Ashford litigated the case pro se. Only D.C. prison officials were sued in this case, Washington prison officials were not defendants. See: Ashford v. District of Columbia, USDC DDC, Case No. 95-2334-LFO.

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Related legal case

Ashford v. District of Columbia