Bombard them with Paperwork: Fighting Censorship in Virginia
I am writing to bring you up to date on my litigation against the Commonwealth of Virginia related to the unlawful censorship of ULK and other literature. I am preparing to file my second tort action against the Commonwealth for the rejection of ULK 48. This will make the second claim I've filed in response to rejections of MIM literature.
I've chosen the state tort route due to the higher chance of success and because the 4th circuit is notorious for siding with the state in such matters. Further, eventually the risk management will get tired of seeing claims of the same nature with the same plaintiffs and defendants, and while it may take time, I believe if enough comrades use the same tactic the issue will be resolved. Prior to incarceration I was the IT Department manager at a card payment company. When I got a dozen emails complaining about a website being blocked in the office I often just removed the block since it was easier than being hassled all the time. I'm hoping risk management responds likewise.
It may be helpful to share my tactic of "bombard the bastards with paperwork" with others. Strength in numbers, you know. In Virginia, a notice of claim is free to file and requires little to no legal skill - just fill out the form, state the relevant facts, include supporting documentation and mail it to Richmond.
During the six month response period comrades will have time to develop their notice of claim into a finely crafted petition to file in court in the event risk management doesn't reply or doesn't provide relief. A tort action is also much cheaper than a 1983 suit since the cost is based on the value of the action, and if the relief sought is simply the delivery of the publication and that the prison get in compliance with the constitution, and so long as there is no security threat in the publication, chances are there will be a positive outcome. That's my goal anyway. Nobody wants to get sued six times a year and nobody wants to get sued six times a year by a hundred people over the same matter. In my tort claims I am naming the Warden, Publication Review Committee and the mailroom as defendants. I'm asking only that the publications be permitted, that the review process be in compliance with relevant statutes and case law, and that this be applied to all MIM publications. I am not asking for money damages simply because it's a free publication; nor am I claiming any mental anguish or emotional distress, besides, who would believe that a bunch of "commies" would get all emotionally scarred because their newsletter was rejected?
Hopefully it helps. I feel that as revolutionaries we must use every tool available against imperialism, and the tort claim is one of those tools.
Step-by-Step Tort Claim
- Save all relevant documentation related to the rejection of the publication. Make copies!
- Complete the entire grievance process. If you get no reply within two weeks send a request form to the mailroom to ask why.
- Request further details about why the publication was rejected such as page number, any specific articles and the like. Try to get more information from the publisher if you can, such as their side of the story about what the alleged offensive material is, where else the publication has been delivered or similar.
- Upon exhaustion of your administrative remedy, draft your notice of claim. This is not your petition to file in court, it is only a statement of facts and a request for relief. State only the relevant facts, why the rejection is unfounded and include any supporting evidence. Do not lace your claim with opinions or try to claim the Warden is out to get you. (Unless you have evidence he is!)
- As you write your claim, when you reference a documented fact make a note of where to find that fact. Mark each documented fact with some way to easily identify it. Ex: "On July 3 the Warden replied to my request for more information. He told me to go f*ck myself. (See Exhibit 4, Paragraph 3, Line 'A')"
- Notarize and copy your notice of claim. Make a copy to send to risk management, the commonwealth attorney and as a bonus to each defendant. Include your claim and all supporting documents. You keep the original.
- Begin crafting your Notice of Claim into a well-written petition to present to the court in the event you don't get any relief. If after six months you haven't gotten any relief take it to court!
This has worked for me several times without having to go to court. It can work for you too!
Fight Censorship in Virginia