Monday, February 14, 2011

Hrdlicka v. Reniff, 631 F.3d 1044 (9th Cir. 2011)

The 9th Circuit interferes with state courts not only in criminal cases, but in the management of state facilities as well.  In addition to managing state prisons, the court also supervises county jails.  In Hrdlicka v. Reniff the owner of a publication entitled Crime, Justice & America, distributes the bulletin to county jails.  The publisher requested two county jails (Butte and Sacramento) to distribute his unsolicited publication  to inmates, alleging a First Amendment right of free speech. Both counties denied his request.

The 2-1 panel majority held the publisher had a First Amendment right to send his unsolicited publication to county jails. In support of its opinion, the panel majority cited previous 9th Circuit cases all ordering  prisoners to receive and distribute mail, and. as precedent,  the principle Supreme Court case of Turner v. Safley, 482 U.,S. 78 (1987).  As noted in the dissenting panel opinion, Turner applied to a public forum.  Jail is not a public forum.
Here is the Supreme Court in Turner:  
[C]ourts are ill equipped to deal with the increasingly urgent problems of prison administration and reform.... Running a prison is an inordinately difficult undertaking that requires expertise, planning, and the commitment of resources, all of which are peculiarly within the province of the legislative and executive branches of government. Prison administration is, moreover, a task that has been committed to the responsibility of those branches, and separation of powers concerns counsel a policy of judicial restraint. Where a state penal system is involved, federal courts have ... additional reason to accord deference to the appropriate prison authorities.
The majority panel ignores the "deference" and the "restraint" acccorded state courts, and engages in another instance of "structural reform" condemned  by the Supreme Court in Horne v. Flores, 129 S.Ct.2579 (2009).  Every case cited in the majority panel decision approves some form of administrative change requiring additional staffing and time consuming tasks of sorting mail unsolicited by any inmate. See, for another 9th Circuit imposition of jail management of bulk mail, Prison News v. Lehman, 397 F.3d. 692 (9th Cir. 2005)

No comments:

Post a Comment