On May 7, 2015, RBGG attorneys Blake Thompson and Ernest Galvan won preliminary relief for a national publisher. Judge James Lorenz, of the United States District Court in San Diego ruled that San Diego County must immediately stop enforcing a regulation that blocked RBGG’s publisher client from reaching subscribers and book purchasers. In 2012, San Diego County started prohibiting persons in the county jails from receiving any mail other than postcards. The new rule prevented RBGG’s client, the Human Rights Defense Center, from sending its books and monthly magazine to readers in San Diego County’s massive jail system, which holds almost 5,000 people in seven facilities. After receiving extensive evidence from both sides, Judge Lorenz issued a preliminary injunction requiring that San Diego County lift the postcard only policy by May 21, 2015.
Judge Lorenz’s 21-page opinion carefully weighs the county’s rationales for limiting mail to postcards and concludes that the connection between the regulation and the county’s legitimate interest in keeping contraband out of the jail is “so remote as to render the policy arbitrary.” Judge Lorenz also found that the postcard-only injures the public by limiting free speech “to such an extent as to severely limit the dissemination of ideas and information.”
The preliminary injunction prevents San Diego County from enforcing its post-card only rule for the duration of the litigation. Judge Lorenz ruled that such preliminary relief was necessary because the publisher has shown that it was likely to prevail at trial in proving that the postcard-only rule violates the free speech and free press guarantees of the First Amendment, and that the publisher is irreparably harmed by the restriction. The case is currently in the discovery phase, and is set for a trial readiness conference in May 2016.