A federal appeals court Tuesday revived a lawsuit in which a Polk County, Florida inmate contended that his rights were violated by jail officials scanning his legal-related mail into a computer.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Rickey Lee Christmas against the county and two jail officers.
The panel said Christmas can pursue a First Amendment claim.
“He alleged, among other things, that the jail and its employees interfered with his right to communicate freely and confidentially with his attorneys by forcing him to scan his legal mail into a computer with a memory chip,” said the 22-page ruling, written by Judge Robin Rosenbaum and joined by Judges Elizabeth Branch and Andrew Brasher.
“Because that claim is plausible on its face, we hold that the district court erred in dismissing it.” The ruling added that while “Christmas does not know whether anyone other than he read his mail, he worried that the jail could and may have, since it had access to the computer into which he had scanned his mail.”
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