Patterico's Pontifications


The First Amendment Right to Jennifer Aniston Photos

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 5:35 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Apparently Judge Terence T. Evans of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals isn’t a big Jennifer Aniston fan like Jevon Jackson but he does have a sense of humor:

“EVANS, Circuit Judge. Jennifer Aniston: television
(“Friends”) star; actress in several forgettable (“Rumor Has It” and “Along Came Polly”) recent films; former wife of Brad Pitt; and anointed as a hottie by “FHM Magazine” —#35 on its list of the “100 Sexiest Women in the World in 2007” (she also made “People” magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” list in 2002)—has legions of fans. Jevon Jackson, the plaintiff in this case, is one of them.

And Jackson would like to display a photograph of Aniston in his room. His “room,” however, is actually a prison cell where Jackson is serving time for a state court conviction in Wisconsin. The prison authorities, relying on a rule, won’t allow Jackson to receive, and thus display, a commercially published photograph of Aniston that he had ordered. So Jackson made a federal case out of the situation by filing this suit alleging that Wisconsin was violating his rights under the First Amendment. The district court granted the state’s motion for summary judgment and Jackson appeals.

Jackson’s suit, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, named Matthew Frank, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC), and William Pollard, the warden at Wisconsin’s Green Bay Correctional Institute (GBCI), as defendants. The GBCI is where Jackson was serving his state sentence. The facts are not in dispute.

In September 2006, the DOC adopted a policy that prevents inmates from possessing individual, commercially published photographs. See DAI Policy No. 309.20.01. Commercially published photographs subject to the policy include photos of “celebrity figures, movie stars, models, or other [sic] that are produced for sale or distribution.” Inmates, however, may receive photographs of family and friends, as well as commercially produced photographs published in magazines, subject to content and quantity restrictions that are not at issue here.

After the policy was put in place, Jackson, who at the time had successfully ordered photographs of other celebrities, was told that DOC officials would not deliver his photograph of Aniston because it violated the new policy. The photograph that Jackson requested is not part of the record on appeal, but neither party suggests that it contained any inappropriate content. 2 (F/N 2: “That’s good. In 2000, Aniston sued ‘Celebrity Skin’ magazine for publishing photos taken of her while sunbathing topless in her own backyard!”)

Not surprisingly, the parties disagreed regarding how Jevon Jackson could appropriately obtain a Jennifer Aniston photograph:

“Daniel Westfield, the security chief for the DOC, explained without contradiction that individual, commercially published photographs had become a particular burden on the prison system because they often contained nudity and other forbidden content like gang symbols. According to Westfield, these photographs are problematic because staff members have to take time to review each of them and, if they disallow the photographs because of content, contact the inmates to determine how to dispose of them. On the other hand, the policy
permits photographs of family and friends because, he asserted, they are less likely to contain gang symbols, nudity, and other impermissible material. Additionally, Westfield declared that inmates can subscribe to magazines to find individual celebrity photographs. He explained that magazines were less burdensome to process than individual, commercially published photographs because staff members can more easily predict their content.

In his response, Jackson disputed the necessity of the ban, asserting that the prison did not rationally advance its interest in preserving resources by disallowing commercially published photographs, while permitting inmates to subscribe to magazines that may contain hundreds of photographs. Jackson also argued that he had no alternative means of possessing a similar photograph because he could not predict when a magazine would contain photos of Aniston. Additionally, Jackson asserted that requiring him to order several magazines to find her picture would actually increase the burden on prison resources. Therefore, he argued, the policy was an exaggerated response to unrealistic prison concerns. The district court, in granting summary judgment, embraced the defendants’ arguments and rejected the claims asserted by Jackson.”

The Court declined to set the case for oral argument and the case was submitted on the briefs and pleadings. Not only did Judge Evans rule against Jevon Jackson on all counts and theories, he doubted that possessing “a photo of a movie star in a prison cell can even be deemed a ‘right’ protected by the First Amendment.”

In today’s celebrity-mad world, that’s cold.


16 Responses to “The First Amendment Right to Jennifer Aniston Photos”

  1. I can’t stand Jennifer Aniston. Can’t buddy have at least made a stand on Drew Barrymore?

    He’s making it real hard to support him here.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  2. Split the difference – let him have a picture, but it has to be from her role in Leprechaun

    Number 2 (9150b2)

  3. I suppose he will have to be satisfied with stroking by memory eh?

    TC (1cf350)

  4. This post was written by a lady, TC. I don’t think you should corrupt her with references to something she can’t understand nor relate to.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  5. I would say unbelievable but it’s not. These are the kind of prison cases the courts like to hear. They don’t want to hear what kind of hellholes our prisons are, engaging day in and day out in the systemic brutalizing of prisoners, because then they might have to do something about it. And they do not know what to do.

    nk (19e0fd)

  6. “And they do not know what to do.”

    More capital punishment would be a start.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  7. NK,

    Can you clarify your #5 — Are you referring to prisoner-on-prisoner violence/abuse, guard-on-prisoner, both, or something else?

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  8. Both. Prisoner on prisoner abuse and malign indifference from the prison staff.

    nk (19e0fd)

  9. Exceptions will be made for posters of Scarlet Johansson or Halle Berry right? How about Rita Hayworth 😉

    Bob Loblaw (23d1c4)

  10. he doubted that possessing “a photo of a movie star in a prison cell can even be deemed a ‘right’ protected by the First Amendment.”

    I don’t like that.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  11. Articles like this are worthless without photographic evidence.

    Stan Switek (7cfd24)

  12. I find it hard to be compassionate about a frivolous lawsuit concerning “prisoner privilege”. I don’t understand why prisoners are allowed anything more than a cot, educational books that pertain to classes that they are currently enrolled in and the bare necessities for hygiene in their cells.

    My understanding is that prison is supposed to be a punishment for violating the law. Somehow, the liberal establishments have changed the idea of prison into a place to rehabilitate prisoners rather than punish them. The methods that have been used have changed prison time from something totally horrible and thus to be avoided like the plague into something more akin to a stay at the college dorm.

    Hard labor, deprivation, punishment and misery would be much more incentive to not get into a situation where you might ever have to go back inside than the current revolving door social clubs that we are now running.

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  13. “educational books that pertain to classes that they are currently enrolled in”

    This would limit a prisoner’s ability to read and gather knowledge only to information presented to them by the government. I don’t see why a prisoner couldn’t decide for themselves they wanted to learn and pursue whatever knowledge they wished, aside from specific info on how to commit crimes, for example, like bomb making.

    Other than that, if a prisoner develops an interest in astronomy, theology, or celebrity pop culture, what business is it of the government to tell them they can’t learn about it?

    Also, maybe the prisoner is the only one in an institution interested in a subject — maybe, a stretch, I admit, they are prescient on it — why not let them occupy their minds?

    I’m not for coddling prisoners, but I see no advantages in curtailing any attempt they make to learn and better themselves in some way, provided they aren’t harming others or preventing a security risk in doing so.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  14. *presenting

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  15. The comment about allowing books for educational purposes is only to appease those who believe that prison is about rehabilitating prisoners. My personal opinion is that those classes should be restricted to classes in civics, legal and moral responsibilities and classes required to help the prisoner get his GED.

    Who should bear the cost of supplying these books and such to the prisoners? Certainly not the tax payer. If the prisoner wants to learn about something else, let him finish his time, get out and then he is welcome to read about and learn anything he wants. In the mean time, his “learning” is being done on my dime which I cannot see the justification for.

    Can anyone tell me what rights Ramos and Compean have to books, pictures, magazines, radios, etc. while they are being held in solitary confinement for their own safety? Since they are not in solitary for extra punishment purposes, why are they still being treated as if they are less than the clown in this case?

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  16. need pictures of the amendment if posible

    Uria Edchinda (867f7a)

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