Case: Martin v. Keller

5:09-ct-03021 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

Filed Date: Feb. 3, 2009

Closed Date: 2010

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

A North Carolina Department of Corrections inmate, became an acclaimed "urban fiction" novelist, successfully publishing several novels from prison. On February 3, 2009 he sued the prison in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina for punishing him for his writing and publishing activities after a corrections officer seized and destroyed a 310-page handwritten manuscript. Plaintiff brought claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendment, and 42 U.S.C. 1981. While i…

A North Carolina Department of Corrections inmate, became an acclaimed "urban fiction" novelist, successfully publishing several novels from prison. On February 3, 2009 he sued the prison in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina for punishing him for his writing and publishing activities after a corrections officer seized and destroyed a 310-page handwritten manuscript. Plaintiff brought claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendment, and 42 U.S.C. 1981.

While in prison serving a 23-year sentence, Plaintiff wrote"urban fiction" novels, which feature gangsters, drug pushers, explicit language, and violence. Critics have praised the genre and Plaintiff in particular. A major publisher published four of his novels before 2006. While he was writing from 2002 to 2006, he had no disciplinary infractions and prison officials commended him for "doing something positive."

According to his complaint, this all changed in May 2006 when the Department of Corrections transferred Plaintiff to Central Prison in Raleigh. In November 2006, a Captain (then Lieutenant) searched Plainitiff's cell and seized a handwritten 310-page manuscript and correspondence with publishers. Plaintiff, who is black, alleged the Captain used racial epithets during their encounters. Plaintiff was charged with violation of Prison Policy B.0700, "Inmates Conducting Personal Business."

During his stay at Central, Plaintiff alleged he received 30 disciplinary infractions relating to his writing and publishing. He was punished for corresponding with his publisher and when his publisher mistakenly mailed a royalty check to the prison. He claimed prison officials would not allow him to contact his publishers to tell them to stop correspondence. He spent time in administrative segregation for infractions related to publishing. In 2008, Plaintiff was transferred to Pasquotank Correctional Institution. Officials there did not discipline him for his writing and publishing efforts, and appeared to support him.

Because the Department of Corrections refused to give any guidance on policy B.0700, Plaintiff sought declaratory relief that the policy as implemented violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also sought an injunction forcing the Department of Corrections to create a policy that would allow inmates to write and publish literary works with or without compensation and to take ministerial actions related to publication such as securing copyrights. He also sought compensatory and punitive damages and attorney's fees and costs.

On March 8, 2010, the parties filed a stipulation of dismissal and a settlement agreement. The court dismissed the case that day based on the settlement. The agreement awarded Martin $10,000 to cover any damages, fees, and costs. The agreement also required the Department of Corrections to overturn 10 disciplinary infractions Martin received for his writing and publishing activities. Finally, the Department of Corrections amended their policy B.0700. Under the new section, B.0705 "Manuscripts of Inmates," inmates can possess manuscripts and seek copyrights. If officers wish to confiscate a manuscript, at least two officers must sign off on the seizure. The manuscript must not be destroyed until the regional director of the Department of Corrections reviews the case. The inmate can pay to mail a seized manuscript to someone outside the prison. However, the policy does not allow inmates to publish manuscripts for compensation, nor can they circulate manuscripts among other prisoners.

Summary Authors

Eric Weiler (5/22/2010)

People


Judge(s)

Daniel, David W (North Carolina)

Dever, James C. III (North Carolina)

Flanagan, Louise W. (North Carolina)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Parker, Katherine Lewis (North Carolina)

Wood, W Swain (North Carolina)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Allen, James Philip (North Carolina)

Hamer, LeVee (North Carolina)

Judge(s)

Daniel, David W (North Carolina)

Dever, James C. III (North Carolina)

Flanagan, Louise W. (North Carolina)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Parker, Katherine Lewis (North Carolina)

Wood, W Swain (North Carolina)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Allen, James Philip (North Carolina)

Hamer, LeVee (North Carolina)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

5:09-ct-03021

Docket (current)

Martin v. Keller et al

Feb. 3, 2009

Feb. 3, 2009

Docket
1

5:09-ct-03021

Complaint

Martin v. Keller et al

Feb. 3, 2009

Feb. 3, 2009

Complaint
13

5:09-ct-03021

Answer

Martin v. Keller et al

July 8, 2009

July 8, 2009

Pleading / Motion / Brief
34-1

5:09-ct-03021

Settlement Agreement

Martin v. Keller et al

March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010

Settlement Agreement
34

5:09-ct-03021

Stipulation of Dismissal

Martin v. Keller at al

March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010

Settlement Agreement

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 23, 2022, 3:17 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against all defendants ( Filing fee $ 350 receipt number 04170000000000794594.), filed by Victor L Martin. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet Cover Sheet) (Wood, W.) (Entered: 02/03/2009)

Feb. 3, 2009

Feb. 3, 2009

2

ORDER that all future filing should reflect the revised case number of 5:09−CT−3021−FL. Signed by Clerk of Court on 2/3/2009. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 02/03/2009)

Feb. 3, 2009

Feb. 3, 2009

NOTICE OF DEFICIENCY re: 1 Complaint − The summons were not attached to the complaint. Please re−file the complaint and attached any summons. (McDowell, G.) (Entered: 02/05/2009)

Feb. 5, 2009

Feb. 5, 2009

3

COMPLAINT against all defendants ( Filing fee $ 350 receipt number 04170000000000794594.), filed by Victor L Martin. (Attachments: # 1 Summons to Keller, # 2 Summons to Boyd, # 3 Summons to O'Neal, # 4 Summons to Branker) (Wood, W.) (Entered: 02/05/2009)

Feb. 5, 2009

Feb. 5, 2009

4

NOTICE of Appearance by Katherine Lewis Parker on behalf of Victor L Martin (Parker, Katherine) (Entered: 02/05/2009)

Feb. 5, 2009

Feb. 5, 2009

5

ORDER DIRECTING CLERK TO CONTINUE MANAGEMENT OF CASE. Signed by Chief Judge Louise Wood Flanagan on 4/7/2009. (Shannon, K.) (Entered: 04/07/2009)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

6

Order of Investigation−−NCPLS to investigate pltf's claims. Signed by Dennis Iavarone, Clerk cc to pltf. w/notice and waiver form and cc to NCPLS and NCAG. Response to Order due by 7/6/2009. Signed by Clerk of Court on 4/7/2009. (Shannon, K.) (Entered: 04/07/2009)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

7

Summons Issued as to Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal. (Shannon, K.) (Entered: 04/08/2009)

April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009

8

ORDER that the Clerk of Court's April 7, 2009 order of investigation is hereby vacated. Signed by Chief Judge Louise Wood Flanagan on 4/19/2009. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 04/20/2009)

April 20, 2009

April 20, 2009

9

AFFIDAVIT of Service for Summons and Complaint served on Boyd Bennett; Captain Frederick S. O'Neal; Gerald Branker; Alvin W. Keller on May 18, 2009, filed by Victor L Martin. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Signed Certified Mail Green Cards) (Wood, W.) (Entered: 05/21/2009)

May 21, 2009

May 21, 2009

10

NOTICE of Appearance by James Philip Allen on behalf of Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal (Allen, James) (Entered: 05/29/2009)

May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009

11

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer by Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order) (Allen, James) (Entered: 05/29/2009)

May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009

12

ORDER granting 11 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer Alvin W. Keller answer due 7/8/2009; Boyd Bennett answer due 7/8/2009; Gerald Branker answer due 7/8/2009; Frederick S. O'Neal answer due 7/8/2009.. Signed by Clerk of Court on 6/2/2009. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 06/02/2009)

June 2, 2009

June 2, 2009

13

ANSWER to 3 Complaint, 1 Complaint, ANSWER to 3 Complaint, 1 Complaint by Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal. (Allen, James) (Entered: 07/08/2009)

July 8, 2009

July 8, 2009

14

Request for Discovery Stipulation. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 07/14/2009)

July 14, 2009

July 14, 2009

15

MOTION for Extension of Time to file discovery stipulation by Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order granting extension of time to file discovery stipulation) (Allen, James) (Entered: 07/22/2009)

July 22, 2009

July 22, 2009

17

Rule 26(f) Report (joint) by Victor L Martin, Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal. (Parker, Katherine) (Entered: 09/02/2009)

Sept. 2, 2009

Sept. 2, 2009

NOTICE OF DEFICIENCY re: 17 Rule 26(f) Report (joint) ; Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 6.1, or the judges practice preferences on the courts website, counsel must submit a proposed order. The order must be filed electronically using the event PROPOSED ORDER located in the RESPONSES AND REPLIES category. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 09/03/2009)

Sept. 3, 2009

Sept. 3, 2009

18

Proposed Order re 17 Rule 26(f) Report (joint) filed by Victor L Martin, Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal. (Parker, Katherine) (Entered: 09/03/2009)

Sept. 3, 2009

Sept. 3, 2009

19

Proposed Order re 17 Rule 26(f) Report (joint) filed by Victor L Martin, Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal. (Parker, Katherine) (Entered: 09/08/2009)

Sept. 8, 2009

Sept. 8, 2009

NOTICE of Hearing: Initial Conference set for 9/24/2009 09:30 AM in Telephonic before Chief Judge Louise Wood Flanagan. Attendance of all counsel of record via telephone is required. Counsel will be notified of conference call details in advance of the conference. (McDowell, G.) (Entered: 09/17/2009)

Sept. 17, 2009

Sept. 17, 2009

20

ORDER that this matter is before the court of its own initiative, and in furtherance of the mandate embodied in Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, where the courts administration of the case shall further its just, speedy, and inexpensive determination. It appears in this case certain processes mistakenly have been invoked by the clerk of court in its case administration. Order commenting on the same will aid future litigation, as well. Signed by Chief Judge Louise Wood Flanagan on 9/21/2009. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 09/21/2009)

Sept. 21, 2009

Sept. 21, 2009

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Chief Judge Louise Wood Flanagan: Initial Telephonic Scheduling Conference held on 9/24/2009. Present at conference − W. Swain Wood or Plaintiff; James Philip Allen for Defendants; Melissa Michaud and Mandy Smith; Law Clerks; Gayle McDowell, Case Manager; Christa Baker, Deputy Clerk. Issues bearing on case management and scheduling addressed. Written case management order to issue. (Baker, C.) (Entered: 09/24/2009)

Sept. 24, 2009

Sept. 24, 2009

21

CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER: Discovery due by 5/14/2010. Motions due by 6/14/2010. Jury Trial set for 10/18/2010 09:00 AM in Raleigh − Courtroom TBA before Chief Judge Louise Wood Flanagan. Signed by Chief Judge Louise Wood Flanagan on 9/24/2009. (McDowell, G.) (Entered: 10/01/2009)

Oct. 1, 2009

Oct. 1, 2009

22

NOTICE by Victor L Martin, Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal of Consent to Settlement Conference (Allen, James) (Entered: 10/07/2009)

Oct. 7, 2009

Oct. 7, 2009

23

ORDER REFERRING CASE to Magistrate Judge USMJ David W. Daniel for court−hosted settlement conference. Signed by Chief Judge Louise Wood Flanagan on 11/2/2009. (Shannon, K.) (Entered: 11/03/2009)

Nov. 2, 2009

Nov. 2, 2009

24

Order Setting Hearings − Settlement Conference set for 1/21/2010 at 9:30 AM at the U.S. Brankruptcy Court Building in Wilson, NC before USMJ David W. Daniel. Signed by USMJ David W. Daniel on 11/9/2009. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 11/10/2009)

Nov. 9, 2009

Nov. 9, 2009

25

MOTION for Writ to Produce Plaintiff at Court−Hosted Settlement Conference by Victor L Martin. (Parker, Katherine) (Entered: 12/18/2009)

Dec. 18, 2009

Dec. 18, 2009

Motions Submitted to Magistrate Judge Daniel: 25 MOTION for Writ to Produce Plaintiff at Court−Hosted Settlement Conference (McDowell, G.) (Entered: 01/04/2010)

Jan. 4, 2010

Jan. 4, 2010

26

ORDER that the court−hosted settlement conference presently scheduled for January 21, 2010 at 9:30a.m. in Wilson, North Carolina will be held in Courtroom #1 of the Terry Sanford Federal Building in Raleigh, North Carolina. Signed by USMJ David W. Daniel on 1/6/2010. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 01/07/2010)

Jan. 7, 2010

Jan. 7, 2010

28

ORDER the court−hosted settlement conference presently scheduled for January 21, 2010 at 9:30a.m. will begin at 12:00p.m., January 21, 2010. Signed by USMJ David W. Daniel on 1/12/2010. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 01/12/2010)

Jan. 12, 2010

Jan. 12, 2010

29

Minute Entry for proceedings held before USMJ David W. Daniel: Settlement Conference held on 1/21/2010. (Court Reporter FTR Gold.) (Indig, A.) (Entered: 01/22/2010)

Jan. 21, 2010

Jan. 21, 2010

30

ORDER to consummate the settlement and file the appropriate documents to close the case on or before February 23, 2010. Signed by USMJ David W. Daniel on 1/22/2010. (Indig, A.) (Entered: 01/22/2010)

Jan. 22, 2010

Jan. 22, 2010

32

MOTION for Extension of Time to consummate settlement by Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order Extending time to consummate settlement) (Allen, James) (Entered: 02/19/2010)

Feb. 19, 2010

Feb. 19, 2010

33

ORDER granting 32 Motion for Extension of Time; Documents due by 3/9/2010. Signed by USMJ David W. Daniel on 2/22/2010. (McDowell, G.) (Entered: 02/22/2010)

Feb. 22, 2010

Feb. 22, 2010

34

NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by Victor L Martin, Alvin W. Keller, Boyd Bennett, Gerald Branker, Frederick S. O'Neal (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A − Settlement Agreement) (Parker, Katherine) (Entered: 03/08/2010)

March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010

Case Details

State / Territory: North Carolina

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 3, 2009

Closing Date: 2010

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Victor Martin, prison inmate, noted author of "urban fiction" novels

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

North Carolina Department of Corrections (Raleigh, Wake), State

Case Details

Constitutional Clause(s):

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Voluntary Dismissal

Amount Defendant Pays: 10,000

Issues

General:

Disciplinary procedures

Loss or damage to property

Mail

Search policies

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Type of Facility:

Government-run