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Name: Nordstrom v. Ryan
Case #: 12-15738
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/11/2014

Inmate's claim that prison officials read his confidential letter to his attorney raised a valid Sixth Amendment claim and civil rights action should not have been dismissed. Nordstrom, an inmate on death row in an Arizona prison, prepared a letter to send to his attorney, which was marked "legal mail." When he gave the mail to a prison guard for processing, the guard opened and read it. Nordstrom objected, and the guard told him he was authorized to read outgoing mail. The Department of Corrections rejected Nordstrom's complaint, and the district court dismissed his civil rights action…

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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…

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