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Okay to Open Mail Sent by Attorney General

The plaintiff alleged that defendants opened a piece of mail from the state Attorney General's office in his absence. He has no standing to raise a court access claim absent a showing of prejudice. However, the court construes his complaint as raising a First Amendment claim based on the right to receive mail, as to which he has standing. The plaintiff loses. The defendants' policy of treating Attorney General mail as privileged mail if the envelope contains the return address of a licensed attorney and has markings that warn of its privileged contents, and if the prisoner has requested its treatment as legal mail, is constitutional. After all, mail from the Attorney General or a prosecutor's office will generally consist of documents in the public record; seldom will such a mail be sensitive or confidential. The policy passes muster under the Turner standard given prison officials' need to inspect for contraband. The plaintiff did not allege that the contents of the envelope were privileged or that it bore the necessary markings.

Noncompliance with state laws and administrative procedures in promulgating the policy does not state a claim under 1983. See: Boswell v. Mayer, 169 F.3d 384 (6th Cir. 1999).

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Related legal case

Boswell v. Mayer