Case: Watson v. Norris

3:87-00699 | U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee

Filed Date: Sept. 3, 1987

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Case Summary

On September 3, 1987, an inmate at the Turney Industrial Center and Farm, a prison in Tennessee, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and against the warden and various officers of the Turney Center in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. After a hearing, the court's Magistrate judge ordered, on February 9, 1988, that numerous portions of the complaint were frivolous, and dismissed those claims. Th…

On September 3, 1987, an inmate at the Turney Industrial Center and Farm, a prison in Tennessee, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and against the warden and various officers of the Turney Center in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. After a hearing, the court's Magistrate judge ordered, on February 9, 1988, that numerous portions of the complaint were frivolous, and dismissed those claims. The plaintiff, who was represented by the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages for the remaining claims, alleging that the Turney Center deprived inmates in protective segregation of their constitutional right of access to the courts. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that his access to prison law library materials and to legal assistance was unreasonably limited. The plaintiff sought to change the Turney Center's policies regarding the distribution of legal publications to inmates in segregation.

Both parties moved for Summary Judgment. On August 3, 1989, the Magistrate recommended that both parties' motions be denied and that the case be set for trial. The plaintiff appealed the denial of his Motion for Summary Judgment, and on December 7, 1989, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Judge Thomas Higgins) enjoined the Turney Center from restricting segregated inmates' access to legal publications by giving prison officials or fellow inmates the power to give or deny legal assistance to them. Watson v. Norris, 729 F. Supp. 581 (M.D. Tenn. 1989). The court ordered the Turney Center to submit to the court a proposed plan for changes in its policy within 30 days.

Summary Authors

Laura Uberti (5/16/2006)

People


Judge(s)

Haynes, William Joseph Jr. (Tennessee)

Higgins, Thomas Aquinas (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Kay, Susan Laurie (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Reevers, Stephanie (Tennessee)

Judge(s)

Haynes, William Joseph Jr. (Tennessee)

Higgins, Thomas Aquinas (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Kay, Susan Laurie (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Reevers, Stephanie (Tennessee)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Memorandum

729 F.Supp. 581

Dec. 7, 1989 Order/Opinion

Memorandum Decision

Supreme Court of the United States

531 U.S. 896, 121 S.Ct. 228, 148 L.Ed.2d 162

Oct. 2, 2000 Order/Opinion

Docket

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

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Tennessee

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Sept. 3, 1987

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Prisoner of the state of Tennessee

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Tennessee Department of Corrections, State

Turney Industrial Center and Farm, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Procedural Due Process

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Law library access

Protective custody

Affected Gender:

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run