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Name: Shaw v. Murphy
Case #: 99-1613
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 04/18/2001
Subsequent History: None

Inmates do not possess a special First Amendment right to provide legal assistance to fellow inmates. While Murphy was incarcerated in a Montana state prison, he decided to assist a fellow inmate charged with assaulting a correctional officer. Murphy sent the inmate a letter which was intercepted in accordance with prison policy. The prison sanctioned Murphy for violating prison rules prohibiting insolence, and for interfering with the due process hearings. Murphy sued, alleging that his First Amendment rights were impaired by the prison policies. The high court found that inmates do not possess a First Amendment right to provide legal advice that enhances the protections otherwise afforded under Turner v. Safley (1987) 482 U.S. 78 (restrictions on prisoners’ communications to other inmates are constitutional if the restrictions are “reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.”) And, on remand Murphy must overcome the presumption that the prison officials acted within their broad discretion.