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Holbrook v. Jellen

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 3, 2015

ROBERT L. HOLBROOK, et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
THERESA JELLEN, et al, Defendant.

Caputo, Judge.

MEMORANDUM

JOSEPH F. SAPORITO, JR., U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

I. Background

This matter is before the court on the plaintiffs' motion to compel discovery (Doc. 60). The plaintiffs are Robert L. Holbrook, an inmate at a Pennsylvania state correctional institution[1], Kristi Brian, Ph.D., an employee of the College of Charleston, South Carolina, and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Human Rights Coalition. Essentially, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants prohibited Holbrook from receiving mail that contained various publications and internet materials, including articles and social networking pages about his criminal case and about other juvenile offenders serving life sentences without parole. The plaintiffs have also alleged that the supervisory defendants upheld the prohibitions regarding Holbrook's mail via the DOC administrative remedy process and DOC DC-ADM 803. The plaintiffs claim that the defendants violated their First Amendment rights to free speech and free association applicable to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Mitchell v. Miller. 884 F.Supp.2d 334, 355 (W.D. Pa. 2012) (First Amendment right to free speech is applicable to state actors under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment) (citing Myer v. Grant. 486 U.S. 414 (1988)). As relief, the plaintiffs seek an injunction directing the defendants to stop their censorship, compensatory and punitive damages, and counsel fees.

Holbrook was convicted as a juvenile and received a sentence of life in prison without parole. (Doc. 43, ¶ 16). Holbrook's conviction and sentence has been the subject of numerous articles published in print and Internet sources. (Doc. 43, ¶ 18). Before Holbrook arrived at SCI Coal Township, he was an inmate at SCI Greene. While he was an inmate at SCI Greene, he received all copies of articles published on the Internet and in print publications, including those relating to his sentence and conviction. (Doc. 43, ¶ 20). Holbrook received articles about his case, the issue of serving a sentence of life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles, copies of his own writings, and articles quoting him which have been published in various print and internet publications. Id.

A Second Amended Complaint was filed which concerned various policies of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections regarding both format and content restrictions applied to mail publications sent to inmates. (Doc. 43).

On April 15, 2015, the plaintiffs filed their motion to compel discovery. (Doc. 60). In their motion, the plaintiffs seek an order compelling the defendants to comply with the following discovery requests:

(1) Request for Production No. 2 (as narrowed pursuant to meet and confer): binders maintained at SCI Coal Township containing documents showing which publications were rejected at the facility, and for what reasons;
(2) Request for Production No. 8: all documents relating to plaintiff Robert Holbrook, including 17-X file, his DC-14 CAR, his DC-15 IRS, and all other documents, records, files and/or information related to Robert Holbrook;
(3) Request for Production No. 10: all documents concerning the formulation of practices and/or policies regarding the following limitations on prisoners' access to publications and other mailings;
• Limitations on materials from social media;
• Limitations on altered publications;
• Limitations on photocopied materials; and
• Limitations pursuant to §3.E. (a) of the PA DOC Policy DC-ADM 803, Inmate Mail and ...

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