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Jackson v. Elrod

decided: August 7, 1989.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 88-C-1817, Prentice H. Marshall, Judge.

Coffey, Manion and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

Author: Manion

MANION, Circuit Judge

Robert Jackson was a pretrial detainee in the Cook County Jail for two ended periods totalling 959 days. During that time correctional officials prevented him from receiving hard-bound books, mostly sent directly from the publisher. As a result of that deprivation, and as a result of the failure to notify him of the deprivation, Jackson sought compensatory and punitive damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various Cook County correctional officials. After the district court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deprive Jackson of his hard-bound books and to not notify him of the deprivation, the correctional officials moved for summary judgment, claiming qualified immunity. The district court denied their motion, and the correctional officials appeal. We affirm.


From August 1980 until June 1982, and from January 1985 until June 1986 plaintiff Robert Jackson was under pretrial detention in the Cook County Jail. Both extended detentions, totalling at least 959 days, were exacerbated by the fact that Jackson was apparently a chronic alcoholic. The Cook County Department of Corrections (DOC), which operated the jail, provided no treatment for alcoholism nor offered any self-help resources. Between 1980 and 1982 Jackson submitted numerous requests for counseling, but received none. Nor, after many requests, did he receive any access to the jail's general library, which apparently contained literature on treatment for alcoholism.

While in detention, in an apparent personal effort to address his self-described addiction, Jackson mail-ordered a number of self-help books, many of which were hard-bound and would be sent directly from the publisher. But Jackson never received most of these books because the prison officials returned them to the sender rather than delivering them to him. Most of the time Jackson did not even receive notification of the fact that the books had been returned. Ultimately, the prison officials told him that hard-bound books posed a security problem and were unacceptable in the jail setting. They rejected Jackson's suggestion that they remove the hard covers before delivering the books to him because the process was too time-consuming and cumbersome. Jackson sued under § 1983 claiming that the deprivation of the hard-bound books violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and the failure to notify him of that deprivation violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Initially the defendants, who included the Cook County Sheriff and various other correctional officials,*fn2 moved that the case be dismissed because it was time-barred and failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Among other things, defendants claim that they had no personal involvement in the deprivation of the books. Judge Marshall granted the motion with respect to any individual liability of Cook County Sheriff Richard J. Elrod, DOC Director Hardiman and DOC Assistant Director Glotz. They remained in this action in their official capacities only. He denied the motion with respect to jail superintendents Blanks, Cornelius, Patrick, and Sullivan. 655 F. Supp. at 1139.

After discovery, Jackson moved for partial summary judgment against Elrod, Hardiman, Glotz, Blanks, and Sullivan for their liability "for alleged policies of barring detainees' receipt of all hard-cover books and of not informing the detainees of such rejections." 671 F. Supp. at 1509. The court held that the defendants failed "to demonstrate a reasonable relationship between their blanket ban on hard-bound books, or their rejection of books from reputable suppliers, and any legitimate jail interest. The practices represent an exaggerated response to a minimal security risk; thus they violate the Constitution." 671 F. Supp. at 1511. The court further held that "detainees should receive notification of rejection and be given an opportunity to object . . . . Thus, we hold the current policy [of non-notification] also violates the Constitution." Id. at 1512.

Defendants*fn3 then moved for partial summary judgment, claiming qualified immunity protected them from individually paying damages for the two Cook County Jail policies that the district court found unconstitutional. The court, in applying the "objective reasonableness" standard set out in Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 107 S. Ct. 3034, 97 L. Ed. 2d 523 (1987), concluded under Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 60 L. Ed. 2d 447, 99 S. Ct. 1861 (1979), the "defendants had no legitimate reason for banning hard-bound books, and thus acted arbitrarily when they rejected books sent to Jackson. Their conduct clearly violated the law established in Bell, therefore the doctrine of qualified immunity does not protect them from liability for damages for the book rejections." Jackson v. Elrod, No. 86 C 1817, mem. op. at 10 (N.D.Ill. Apr. 5, 1988) (Jackson III).

Defendants also claimed qualified immunity for their alleged failure to notify Jackson that they had rejected and returned the books addressed to him. Following Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 40 L. Ed. 2d 224, 94 S. Ct. 1800 (1974), and Aikens v. Jenkins, 534 F.2d 751 (7th Cir. 1976), the district court held that "the law in 1980 was clear that the Fourteenth Amendment required defendants to notify Jackson that they had rejected books sent to him. Defendants thus are not immune from paying damages for their failure to afford Jackson minimal procedural safeguards." Id. at 11.

Standard of Review

While 28 U.S.C. § 1291 vests the courts of appeals with jurisdiction over appeals only from "final decisions" of district courts, an order denying qualified immunity is immediately appealable. Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 524, 86 L. Ed. 2d 411, 105 S. Ct. 2806 (1985). Defendant's entitlement to qualified immunity is not a mere defense to liability, but an immunity from suit itself. Id. at 526-27. Thus the court's denial of qualified immunity on both claims is appealable at this juncture.

This court reviews de novo a district court's summary judgment determination. Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Jordan, 873 F.2d 149, 152 (7th Cir. 1989). Summary judgment will be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 only when no genuine issue of material fact exists and when the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In reviewing the denial of a motion for summary judgment as here, we must review the record and draw inferences from it in the light most favorable to the party opposed to the motion. Morgan v. Harris Trust & Savings Bank Chicago, 867 F.2d 1023, 1026 (7th Cir. 1989). Summary judgment is not defeated merely because issues of motive or intent are involved. Id. This court, like a district court deciding a summary judgment motion, does not exercise discretion in the summary judgment decision. Upon appeal this court looks for any genuine issue of ...

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