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Murchison v. Rogers

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 11, 2015

Joseph Murchison, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
John Rogers; Terrena Ballinger; Greg Hadley; Warden Michael Bowersox; George Lombardi; Superintendent Dave Dormire, Defendants - Appellees

Submitted November 12, 2014

Page 883

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 884

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Springfield. (6:11-cv-03422-DGK).

For Joseph Murchison, Plaintiff - Appellant: John C. Aisenbrey, Christina D. Arnone, STINSON & LEONARD, Kansas City, MO.

Joseph Murchison, Plaintiff - Appellant, Pro se, Bowling Green, MO.

For John Rogers, Terrena Ballinger, Greg Hadley, Warden Michael Bowersox, George Lombardi, Superintendent Dave Dormire, Defendants - Appellees: Andrew W. Blackwell, Assistant Attorney General, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Jefferson City, MO.

Before BYE, SHEPHERD, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 885

BYE, Circuit Judge.

Joseph Murchison, a former prisoner in the South Central Correctional Center (" SCCC" ) in Licking, Missouri,[1] filed this action alleging prison officials violated his First Amendment rights when they censored his subscribed issue of Newsweek magazine. The district court[2] dismissed the claims against some of the prison officials and granted summary judgment in favor of the remaining prison officials. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I

At the time of the events relevant to this dispute, Murchison was incarcerated at the SCCC. A subscriber of Newsweek for many years, Murchison received most of his issues of Newsweek at the SCCC without incident. On October 7, 2010, however, members of the SCCC's censorship committee (the " Committee" ), John Rogers and Greg Hadley, censored the October 11, 2010, issue of Newsweek addressed to Murchison on the grounds that it " promotes violence, disorder or the violation of state or federal law including inflammatory material. (throughout) Pg. 32-34." [3]

Page 886

SCCC prison regulations prohibited certain types of materials in the prison:

1. Offenders are prohibited from receiving correspondence, written or recorded materials, or pictures that:
a. constitute a threat to the security, good order or [] discipline of the institution;
b. may facilitate or encourage criminal activity;
c. may interfere with the rehabilitation of an offender.
2. Correspondence, written or recorded materials or pictures are subject to being censored in compliance with III.C.1. if the item:
a. promotes, incites, or advocates violence, disorder or the violation of state or federal law . . .

Missouri Dep't of Corr. Institutional Servs. Policy and Procedure Manual, IS13-1.2 Censorship Procedures, III.C. However, " [c]orrespondence, printed or recorded materials, and pictures may not be rejected because . . . the content is religious, philosophical, social, sexual, political or is unpopular or repugnant . . . ." Id. at III.B.2.

After the Committee notified Murchison that the Newsweek issue would be censored, he filed an Informal Resolution Request (" IRR" ) in which he asserted that censoring the magazine violated his constitutional rights. The IRR was denied on December 17, 2010. Murchison then filed a grievance with the Warden of the SCCC, Michael Bowersox, who denied the grievance. Murchison appealed to the Director of the Division of Adult Institutions, Dave Dormire, and the ...


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