The federal and state constitution guarantee inmates the ability to bring their cases to court. However, most of them do so without lawyers.
It is important for inmates to keep track of what court papers are sent and received to and from court. All of this tracking is done by mail.
Mail going to the court is labeled “confidential correspondence” or “legal mail.”
The mail room at San Quentin does not keep a log of any incoming legal mail. It is only required to keep a log of outgoing legal mail.
“We only keep a mail log of outgoing legal mail to all state courts, federal courts and to the California Attorney General. No other outgoing legal mail is logged by the mail room,” said mail room Supervisor Alex Lile.
Inmates who file court papers and want a copy of their incoming legal mail log must make that request to housing unit custody staff, where the permanent recordof incoming legal mail is kept, says Lile.
Housing unit staff also logs all outgoing legal mail in addition to incoming legal mail.
Prison regulations require that the log must contain, at a minimum, the date of delivery to the inmate, the inmate’s name and signature, and the sender’s name and address. Senders of legal mail must be listed either in the Department Operations Manual (DOM) §54010.12.1 or in the Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) §3141(c).