Case: Johnnie K. v. Crist

1:82-cv-00182 | U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico

Filed Date: Feb. 18, 1982

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On February 18, 1982, a class action lawsuit was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico on behalf juveniles confined in the New Mexico Boys' School (N.M.B.S.) in Springer, New Mexico, against the New Mexico Department of Corrections, the Director of its Juvenile Facilities Division, and the Superintendent of N.M.B.S. The plaintiffs, represented by both the Youth Law Center and private counsel, sought declaratory and injun…

On February 18, 1982, a class action lawsuit was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico on behalf juveniles confined in the New Mexico Boys' School (N.M.B.S.) in Springer, New Mexico, against the New Mexico Department of Corrections, the Director of its Juvenile Facilities Division, and the Superintendent of N.M.B.S. The plaintiffs, represented by both the Youth Law Center and private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief from alleged constitutional violations stemming from mail restrictions.

According to the complaint, N.M.B.S. violated the plaintiffs' First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights by censoring incoming mail and limiting outgoing letters. Prior to delivery, N.M.B.S. personnel reviewed all incoming mail, including correspondence from attorneys and court officials. N.M.B.S. refused to deliver mail that could be characterized as obscene, lewd, racist, or containing escape instructions. In addition, mail that could undermine the detainee's rehabilitation was forbidden, as was mail that could be used for blackmail. To be deliverable, mail also had to be legible, written in either English or Spanish, and clearly contain no coded messages. Detainees were only allowed to mail a certain number of letters each week.

On March 29, 1982, N.M.B.S. implemented new mail regulations, which addressed some of the plaintiffs' concerns. The parties agreed to modify these regulations when they entered a consent decree in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico (Judge Howard C. Bratton) on May 24, 1983. Under the new rule, juveniles could receive an unlimited quantity of mail written in any language. N.M.B.S. personnel were barred from opening mail and packages unless the intended recipient was present and systems for handling money and contraband were defined. Corrections officials were required to follow the chain of command whenever they thought something should be censored and could almost never open mail sent by an attorney or court authority.

We do not have the docket in this case and are not aware of any subsequent proceedings.

Summary Authors

Elizabeth Chilcoat (6/26/2006)

People


Judge(s)

Bratton, Howard C. (New Mexico)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bertenthal, Philip J. (California)

Kauffman, Michael A. (New Mexico)

Robinson, Shannon A. (Colorado)

Shotton, Alice C. (California)

Soler, Mark I. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Fry, Judy (New Mexico)

Judge(s)

Bratton, Howard C. (New Mexico)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bertenthal, Philip J. (California)

Kauffman, Michael A. (New Mexico)

Robinson, Shannon A. (Colorado)

Shotton, Alice C. (California)

Soler, Mark I. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Fry, Judy (New Mexico)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Civil Rights Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages (Class Action)

Feb. 18, 1982 Complaint

Stipulation and Order

May 24, 1983 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New Mexico

Case Type(s):

Juvenile Institution

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 18, 1982

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Juveniles confined in the New Mexico Boys' School

Attorney Organizations:

Youth Law Center

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

New Mexico Boys School , School District

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1983 - 0

Issues

General:

Confidentiality

Language access/needs

Mail

Affected Gender:

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run