Eighth Circuit Revives Inmate's Free Speech Suit from Legal Death

By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on February 17, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Overturning a lower court’s ruling, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals brought back to life a former prison inmate’s free speech lawsuit.

While an inmate in federal prison, Arkansas resident Rodney E. Bradley was disciplined after a letter he wrote complaining about his institutional parole officer was discovered. Bradley was found to have violated a prison rule against insulting behavior and received a reprimand and an activity restriction, which he argued violated his First Amendment freedom of speech rights. However, a lower court judge dismissed his suit against a variety of state Department of Correction employees.

Although upholding the dismissal against one defendant - George Lombardi - the Eighth Circuit revived Bradley's suit against the rest of the named defendants in a per curiam order, stating that "Bradley's allegations that he wrote the letter for the purpose of requesting a different IPO, that he included the comments at issue to support his request, and that he did not intend for his IPO to see the comments were sufficient to plausibly state a claim that the disciplinary action violated his First Amendment rights."

Bradley was eventually released during the course of his lawsuit against Arkansas' Department of Corrections and some of his requests for relief, such as receiving a new parole review and revisions to the prison rule prohibiting insulting behavior, were deemed moot.

With his most recent victory in the Eighth Circuit bringing back his lawsuit from legal death, however, perhaps Rodney E. Bradley will finally get an issue from his former life in prison settled.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard