Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Court Terminates Case on Inmate Access to Prison Law Libraries

SACRAMENTO - Federal judge Susan Illston of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ended on April 16, 2010 a long-standing lawsuit, Gilmore v. State of California, relating to inmate access to law libraries and legal documents at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The Gilmore case began in 1966, when inmates from San Quentin State Prison filed an action concerning their access to law books and the courts. In 1972, the court ordered an injunction requiring California to maintain a specified list of legal literature in its prisons to help inmates access the courts.

In December 2009, CDCR implemented revised regulations that provide additional rights for inmates to access the law library. CDCR’s new regulations require that all inmates, regardless of their classification or housing status, be entitled to physical law library access that is sufficient to provide meaningful access to the courts. The new regulations require CDCR to maintain, at a minimum, the complete and updated material required at each prison that were set forth in the Gilmore Injunction.

On April 12, 2010 plaintiffs in Gilmore v. State of California, withdrew their opposition to a motion filed by the California Attorney General’s Office on behalf of CDCR to terminate the Gilmore injunction requiring California to maintain a specified list of legal literature in all its prisons. The termination of the injunction was ordered April 16 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which effectively ends the case.