Hairston v. Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, No. 2:17-cv-581 (S.D. Ohio) November 28, 2018.
Prison officials opened mail from the courts addressed to prisoner in the mistaken belief that doing so was permissible. The official in question was tutored about the extension of the prohibition on opening prisoner’s “legal mail” to court documents, but in at least one instance repeated the behavior.
Although the county insists that it had not erroneously instructed its employees and that it took action to correct any misperceptions, its post-offense measures will not defeat the prisoner’s claim that a policy or practice operated to breach his privacy rights in receiving legal mail. Moreover, once the county employee was instructed in the scope of legal mail protections, qualified immunity could not be asserted.