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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Practical Implications of Legal Scholarship

Prison officials seized a copy of a prisoner's copy of the Georgetown Law Journal.  The prisoner claimed that this confiscation denied him access to the courts and the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that this claim was frivolous:

An inmate alleging the denial of his right of access to the courts must demonstrate a relevant, actual injury stemming from the defendant’s unconstitutional conduct. . . . Brewster wrote in his more definite statement that his research on several pending lawsuits was delayed by the law journal’s confiscation and that his ability to draft pleadings was hindered by the loss of the wite-out. On appeal, Brewster argues that “he was attempting to formulate an appeal of his criminal conviction” when the law journal was confiscated. At no point in any of his pleadings does Brewster identify any issue that he would have brought in his criminal appeal or other suit if the law journal had not been taken from him. This omission is fatal to his claim.

Much has been made of the alleged irrelevance to modern legal scholarship to practical litigation, so I mostly found myself wondering-- what issue of the Georgetown Law Journal was it?

Posted by Will Baude on November 11, 2009 at 02:41 PM in Civil Procedure | Permalink


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My cousin told me that his goal in the GLJ was to write the habeas piece in the annual review because that was the one sure way to have an audience of attentive readers.

Posted by: John Steele | Nov 11, 2009 6:17:40 PM


The GLJ's annural review of criminal procedure is widely read by prisoners, as it's a reasonably concise summary of the law that relates to them and it is chocked full of citations.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Nov 11, 2009 5:44:12 PM

I agree that it was almost certainly the criminal procedure review, but for pure irony, I'm going to imagine that it was Volume 97 containing Pierre Schlag's essay (rant?) on the irrelevance of American legal scholarship.

Posted by: David Cleveland | Nov 11, 2009 4:14:39 PM

I'm guessing it was their annual review of criminal procedure. Although the Fifth Circuit surely got this right as a formal matter, what a crappy thing to do to a prisoner.

Posted by: Bobo Linq | Nov 11, 2009 3:02:20 PM

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