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Williams & Connolly, HRDC Win Censorship Case Against Virginia Regional Jail, $210,000 in Attorney Fees

PLN won the right to deliver its materials to prisoners, plus monetary damages, and on August 24, 2020 was awarded substantial attorney fees. HRDC sued after jail authorities blocked the delivery of prisoner books, educational material, and all magazines, including PLN’s magazine and prisoner support materials.

 In its August order, the judge noted, “In this suit..., I previously granted summary judgment for the plaintiff on its First Amendment claim against the jail authority and on its due process claim against both defendants.”

“In summary,” the court continued, “I held that the Jail Authority had violated HRDC’s First Amendment rights by (1) prohibiting inmates from receiving books except those preapproved by the Jail Authority; and (2) prohibiting inmates from receiving any magazines. I further held that the Jail Authority and Superintendent Stephen Clear had violated HRDC’s due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by rejecting or confiscating HRDC’s mailings to prisoners without providing adequate notice of the reason for the rejection and an opportunity for HRDC to appeal the decision.”

PLN has made it its mission to provide educational materials to prisoners on the county, state, and federal level, and its monthly magazine provides important and useful information to the incarcerated. As part of that mission, PLN has relentlessly attacked the unwarranted and unconstitutional censorship of educational materials with a series of federal civil right lawsuits, effectively advocating for the right of prisoner dignity.

Under federal civil rights law, the prevailing party is entitled to reasonable attorney fees. Williams & Connolly was represented by Sean Douglass and Tom Henthoff. The court awarded attorneys’ fees in the amount of $210,691.25 and 14,871.89 in expenses. HRDC was represented by General Counsel Daniel Marshall.

Related legal case

Human Rights Defense Center, Inc. v. Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority, et al