University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Prison Legal News v. Cook County PC-IL-0037
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-06862 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Attorney Organization Loevy & Loevy
Case Summary
On June 30, 2016, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District Court of Illinois against Cook County Jail under section §1983, alleging violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection clause of the U.S ... read more >
On June 30, 2016, Prison Legal News (PLN) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District Court of Illinois against Cook County Jail under section §1983, alleging violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants prohibited delivery of written speech from PLN and other related publications, failing to provide due process via notice and opportunity to challenge the censorship and denying Plaintiff equal protection as required under the Constitution. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief to stop the censorship practices, as well as compensation for damages and legal fees.

On July 1, 2016, the plaintiff motioned for a preliminary injunction. The plaintiff sought a declaration that the Jail's mailroom policies and practice of allowing some newsprint while barring PLN violate the plaintiff's right under the First Amendment, Due Process, and Equal Protection clauses of the Constitution. On November 21, 2016, the court (Judge Joan Gottschall) denied the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, stating preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief. The court noted that the regulations were at least rationally related to prison security and that it could not grant such extraordinary relief on the indeterminate factual record plaintiffs had provided at that time.

The parties appear to have been engaged in settlement talks after the denial. On March 30, 2017, the court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Marie Valdez for a settlement conference. Initially that proved unsuccessful, and on January 24, 2018, the parties informed the court that settlement discussions had been unsuccessful, leading the court to set a schedule for discovery.

However, in the months that followed the parties returned to negotiating a settlement, and appear to have reached one that will resolve the case. On December 12, 2018, the parties informed the court that the settlement they reached called for the court to resolve the dispute over plaintiff's fees. The court set a date for a hearing on the motion for fees, but on March 11, 2019, the court granted a joint motion to stay that hearing in light of the parties' representation that they have agreed in principle to settle their dispute over costs and fees.

On June 25, 2019, the parties agreed to a settlement agreement and the case was dismissed. The settlement agreement stipulated that the defendants would establish, implement, and enforce policies that will ensure the delivery of Human Rights Defense Center Publications. The settlement also stipulated that the defendants would pay $75,000 in attorneys’ fees and $35,000 in damages. In addition, if any HRDC publications are withheld from prisoners, jail officials will provide written notice within five business days. Copies of the policies were made available to both jail staff and prisoners within 60 days after the settlement, and they will be included in the Prisoner Handbook.

The parties agreed that, with the Court's finding, this case was only concerning the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of a publisher, and therefore was not a case concerning prison conditions that are defined in the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996. The case was dismissed without prejudice with the right to refile prior to June 27, 2022. If no such refiling occurs, the case will become dismissed with prejudice.

Ginny Lee - 01/26/2017
Chris Pollack - 03/21/2019
Christiana Johnson - 10/18/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Nneka Jones Tapia
Thomas J. Dart
Plaintiff Description Prison Legal News (PLN) is a monthly magazine that includes reports, reviews and analysis of court rulings and news related to prisoners’ rights and criminal justice issues.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Loevy & Loevy
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2019 - 2022
Filed 06/30/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Prison Legal News Homepage
Prison Legal News
By: Prison Legal News
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Ill.
PC-IL-0037-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Ill.
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Under the Civil Rights Act U.S.C. §1983 and Damages [ECF# 1]
PC-IL-0037-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 38] (2016 WL 6833977)
PC-IL-0037-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
Stipulation and Order to Dismiss [ECF# 85]
PC-IL-0037-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Gottschall, Joan B. (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
PC-IL-0037-0002 | PC-IL-0037-0004 | PC-IL-0037-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Burday, Jonathan I. (Illinois) show/hide docs
Burday, Joshua Hart (Illinois) show/hide docs
Loevy, Arthur R. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PC-IL-0037-0001 | PC-IL-0037-9000
Loevy, Jonathan I. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PC-IL-0037-0001 | PC-IL-0037-9000
Marshall, Daniel (Florida) show/hide docs
Neelakanta, Sabarish (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-IL-0037-0004 | PC-IL-0037-9000
Topic, Matthew Vincent (Illinois) show/hide docs
PC-IL-0037-0001 | PC-IL-0037-9000
Weber, Lance Theodore (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-IL-0037-0001 | PC-IL-0037-9000
Defendant's Lawyers McGrath, Megan Kelly (Illinois) show/hide docs
Power, John M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PC-IL-0037-0004 | PC-IL-0037-9000
Zecchin, Anthony E. (Illinois) show/hide docs

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