Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pell v. Procunier case brief

Pell v. Procunier case brief summary
417 U.S. 817 (1973)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff media appealed a judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, which dismissed its claim against defendant corrections department alleging that Cal. Dep't of Corrections Manual § 415.071 violated the freedom of the press. The corrections department appealed a summary judgment for plaintiff inmates, which found that § 415.071 violated inmates' freedom of speech.

CASE FACTS
The media and inmates brought a civil rights suit against the corrections department alleging that a certain regulation was violative of U.S. Constitutional Amendment I and Amendment XIV. The Court found that Cal. Dep't of Corrections Manual § 415.071 prohibited media interviews with specific inmates.


DISCUSSION

  • The Court reversed the summary judgment for the inmates and affirmed the dismissal of the media's claim. 
  • The Court determined that the inmates' First Amendmentfreedom of speech rights had to be analyzed against the legitimate goals of the corrections system. 
  • Because the inmates had access to anyone through writing and were permitted visitation with family, friends, acquaintances, clergy, and attorneys, who, in turn, had access to the media, the Court concluded that § 415.071 did not infringe on the inmates' freedom of speech. 
  • Because § 415.071 did not deny media access to sources of information available to members of the general public and, in fact, the media had more access to the prisons than the general public, the Court found that § 415.071 did not abridge the media's freedom of the press.
CONCLUSION
The Court reversed the summary judgment for the inmates against the corrections department on the allegation that a corrections regulation violated the inmates' freedom of speech. The Court affirmed the dismissal of the media's claim that the same regulation violated the media's freedom of the press.

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