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WADE v. KANE

March 29, 1978

C. Alton Wade, Jr., et al.
v.
Robert P. Kane, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LORD, III

 JOSEPH S. LORD, III, CH.J.

 Plaintiffs, who are confined at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania, either provided or received legal services from an in-prison law clinic which was operated by inmates. Plaintiffs charge that the closing of the law clinic by prison and state authorities deprived them of their constitutional rights. They seek temporary and permanent injunctive relief and money damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A hearing on preliminary injunctive relief was held on February 16 and 17, 1978, following which I issued a preliminary injunction from the bench. I now make the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. The plaintiffs are inmates and residents of the A Block at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania ("Graterford"). The defendants are Robert P. Kane, Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; William B. Robinson, Commissioner of the Bureau of Correction of the Pennsylvania Department of Justice; Julius T. Cuyler, Superintendent of Graterford; and Daniel T. Sims, Deputy Superintendent of Treatment at Graterford.

 2. On or about January 27, 1976, Graterford inmates and others formed the Para-Professional Law Clinic ("Clinic") as a non-profit corporation under Pennsylvania law for the purpose of providing legal services to Graterford inmates.

 3. The Clinic has its main office near the central prison facilities at Graterford. The Clinic also has a library of legal reference materials in a separate room of the prison school, which is also near the central prison facilities. This area is accessible on a limited basis to all inmates of Blocks A, B, C and D. Inmates on Block E are not permitted access to these facilities.

 4. The Clinic made these legal reference materials available for use in its law library to all Graterford inmates (except Block E inmates, whom the prison denied access to this area), but only Clinic members could remove the books from the Clinic's law library.

 5. The Clinic also maintains five block offices in converted cells, one in each of Blocks A, B, C, D and E, in which case files are maintained. Case files pertaining to the cases of inmates residing on each block are kept in that block's Clinic office. There are now between 150 and 175 active files in the A Block office. In order for these files to be processed, Clinic members must have access to the block offices.

 6. Clinic "members" are persons who provide legal assistance to other Graterford inmates as part of the Clinic program. There are approximately fifteen (15) to sixteen (16) active members of the Clinic at any time.

 7. Clinic members work on both criminal and civil cases. The Clinic institutes and prosecutes Post Conviction Hearing Act cases, habeas corpus petitions, motions for new trials, direct appeals, motions in arrest of judgment, civil rights actions, misconduct hearings and any other actions pertaining to inmates' welfare. The Clinic also helps inmates to prepare letters to courts and to outside counsel, and to understand communications from courts and outside counsel to inmates.

 8. Plaintiffs Wade, Vorhauer and Flynn are members of the Clinic. They have provided legal services to inmates of Blocks B, C, D and E in addition to inmates housed in Block A.

 9. The services of Clinic members are offered without charge, although the members will accept gratuities after the rendering of legal services from the prisoners whom they have helped. Payment of such gratuities is not, however, a condition upon which the availability of members' services is based, and the by-laws of the Clinic prohibit members from receiving compensation from inmates.

 10. Before January 12, 1978, the Clinic office on A Block was open from 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. and from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. daily. Because it is located on the block, this office was readily accessible to A Block inmates during these hours.

 11. Members of the A Block Clinic worked on cases from twelve to sixteen hours each day. The Clinic members were able to take files from the office into their cells and do additional work on inmates' cases while the Clinic was closed during the day and after the 9:00 P.M. closing of the office.

 12. Graterford furnished the Clinic with writing supplies such as typewriter ribbons, writing paper and carbon paper for use in the legal representation of inmates.

 13. Clinic members have provided on numerous occasions both adequate and successful legal representation for Graterford inmates who sought the services of the Clinic. Although much of the work of Clinic members involves the preparation of letters to courts, public defenders and government agencies, members of the Clinic have been involved in all stages of litigation on behalf of Graterford inmates.

 14. In late 1977 plaintiff Wade performed legal services for plaintiff Madronal, including the filing of a state post-conviction action in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. On December 14, 1977, Judge Frederic Weir of that court wrote to plaintiff Wade, advising Wade that he would appoint a public defender in the case but stating that he thought Wade could represent Madronal more capably than a public defender.

 15. Many of the inmates who have availed themselves of the services of the Clinic and of the plaintiff Clinic members are indigent. Therefore, they are unable to retain counsel and are unable ...


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