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California DOC Pays PLN’s Attorneys $320,000 In Fees/Costs Related To Mail Censorship Settlement

California DOC Pays PLN's Attorneys $320,000 In Fees/Costs Related To Mail Censorship Settlement

by John E. Dannenberg

In June, 2007, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Prison Legal News (PLN) stipulated to a $320,000 settlement for attorney fees and costs associated with CDCR's agreement with PLN to cease restrictions on California prisoners receiving PLN and related books.

In December 2006, PLN and CDCR agreed to a $65,600 settlement wherein, in addition to permitting prisoners to subscribe to and store PLN in their cells, CDCR would subscribe to PLN for every prison law library within CDCR (plus three for CDCR headquarters), this amounted to 160 five-year subscriptions. (See: PLN, May 2007, p.34.) The settlement also provides for due process when mail is censored and makes significant changes in the CDCR mail censorship rules. In addition, because PLN was the prevailing party pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, it was entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs. PLN's San Francisco attorneys Rosen, Bien and Galvan, LLP submitted their billing for the time period from March 3, 2005 to December 11, 2006. After negotiation, the parties stipulated to the $320,000 figure. (Note: Attorney fees were not limited to 150% of the damages because the Prison Litigation Reform Act (42 U.S.C. § 1997e(d)(2)) does not apply where the plaintiff, as here, is a publisher and not a prisoner.) It was further agreed that interest at 4.96 % ($43/day) would accrue, per 28 U.S.C. § 1961, until payment is made (a process awaiting approval of the Governor's Office Action Request). See: Prison Legal News v. Schwarzenegger, U.S.D.C. ND CA, Case No. C07-02058 CW.

[Editor's Note: PLN does not receive any portion of the awarded attorney fees. Despite the settlement, several CDCR institutions continue to censor or otherwise not deliver PLN to its subscribers or books ordered by CDCR prisoners. We ask that readers inform us of any censorship of their book or magazine orders so that we can seek enforcement of the settlement in court.]

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Related legal case

Prison Legal News v. Schwarzenegger

The stipulation is available in the brief bank.