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Name: Hebbe v. Pliler
Case #: 07-17265
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/29/2010

The constitutional right to access the courts requires an inmate to have access to the prison law library in order to appeal his conviction. Appellate counsel filed a Wende brief and the court gave appellant 30 days to file a supplemental brief. But he could not comply with the deadline because the prison was on lock down and he had no access to the law library. In lock down situations, the prison had a limited paging system for legal materials allowing inmates to request three sources, not exceeding 30 pages each, but the request would only be granted if it complied with strict citation format. Appellant was not aware of the paging system until after the filing deadline had passed. He filed a civil rights suit alleging his constitutional right to court access was violated when he was denied access to the prison library without having a meaningful alternative. The district court dismissed the action, but the Ninth Circuit reversed. Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, prison authorities are required to provide inmates the tools they need to directly or collaterally attack their convictions, or conditions of confinement. The policies of the prison hindered appellant from pursuing his direct appeal. Having shown an actual injury, the motion to dismiss should not have been granted.