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Shaw v. Murphy

United States Supreme Court
532 U.S. 223 (2001)


Facts

Murphy (defendant) was a prisoner who served as an inmate law clerk, providing legal assistance to fellow prisoners. Upon learning that a fellow inmate had been charged with assaulting a correctional officer, Murphy wrote a letter to the inmate offering him legal advice. Shaw (plaintiff), an officer in the maximum-security unit, intercepted the letter and reviewed it. Finding that the letter violated prison policy, Shaw cited Murphy for violations of the prison’s rules prohibiting insolence, interference with due process hearings, and conduct that disrupts or interferes with the security and orderly operation of the institution. Murphy appealed his citation, and the court of appeals held that the prison policy governing inmate-to-inmate correspondence that includes legal assistance violated the First Amendment. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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