Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Acceptable access. The Court, in Bourdon v. Loughren, held that a prisoner's right to access to the courts is satisfied by appointment of counsel and such right was not violated by the government's denial of materials that the prisoner requested from the jail's law library. The Court further held that the access to courts through appointed counsel is not measured by reference to the Sixth Circuit's guarantee of effective assistance of counsel. In order to bring such a claim, asserting denial of access to the courts by appointed counsel, a prisoner must show that the provision of counsel did not furnish him with the capability of bringing his challenges before the courts, not that he was denied effective representation in the court. The Court found that Bourdon's rights had not been violated under the facts of the case.

Judge Oakes concurred, agreeing that Bourdon's rights had not been violated, but disagreed with the majority's holding that a state's affrimative obligation to provide access to the courts can be measured without reference to the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of effective assistance of counsel.

The majority decision can be found here. Judge Oakes's concurrence can be found here.

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