Monday, September 22, 2008

Barrett v. Belleque (9th Cir. - Sept. 22, 2008)

Ah, the good old First Amendment. And the speech it protects. Including the right of a prisoner to send letters to his mother and grandmother (!) using vulgar and racist language to describe his captors.

Actually, the Ninth Circuit doesn't even hold that -- it merely holds that the complaint here survives a motion to dismiss. Whether you can be punished for insulting prison officials to your mother remains to be decided.

P.S. - On the merits, the holding here is clearly right, both as a procedural as well as constitutional matter. I'll only add that crafting a five-paragraph, per curiam opinion on this issue probably could have taken a little less than six months -- which is how long it took after oral argument here.

P.P.S. - Congrats to Leonard Feldman on this one, who represented the (formerly pro se) plaintiff. Leonard's at Heller (in Seattle), and was in my class at HLS and on the Ninth Circuit with me (albeit for a different judge). Nice win.