San Quentin has two fully compliant law libraries plus three satellite partial law libraries to serve the prison’s diverse population. The Main Law Library is now located in a renovated section of the old laundry building on the lower yard and serves the North Block, H-Unit, West Block, Gym and Special Program populations . The SHU library, located in the Ad-Seg visiting area, serves the Row and Ad-Seg populations. The
satellite libraries are located in North Segregation, East Block and the Adjustment Center.
Two Senior Librarians, Tom Brobst and John Nelson, supervise the Main library, including its recreational book section. A third Senior Librarian,
Doug Jeffrey, runs the SHU library. The Main Library employs five prisoner law clerks and five general SQ’s Law Libraries Serve All Segments Of The Population by John E. Dannenberg circulation clerks. Duties of the law clerks include ordering all law books and supplies, filing and updating the law book collection (for all five law libraries), maintaining standard legal forms, and assisting inquiring prisoners at the law window. Additionally, the law clerks do legal copying and respond to questions referred via the SHU librarian.
Newly added to the Main Law Library are five computers which provide users with lookup capability on court-mandated (Gilmore) case law plus Title 15, the Dep a r tme n t Operations Manual, California court rules, the California Digest, the Federal Digest, Witkins and California
Jurisprudence research tools. The computers provide word search capability over all volumes which greatly speeds research, but no printing or
typing capability is provided.
The Main Law Library collection includes all California case law from 1860 on. Federal case law books include the district court rulings (Federal Supplement) and appellate court rulings (Federal Reporter) from about 1940. SQ’s U.S. Supreme Court case law goes back to 1790. The current validity of any past case may be researched using Shepard’s Citations. Additionally, one may use Shepard’s to research statutes, regulations,
court rules and jury instructions. To research California law by topic, California Jurisprudence is a comprehensive legal encyclopedia citable in court pleadings. Additionally, the venerable Witkins legal research book series provides detailed (and citable) advice on California criminal and evidence law.
Severalavailable books aid the prisoner user to formulate and prepare legal pleadings. The California State Prisoners Handbook is an excellent
starting point. It covers prison regulations, administrative appeals, habeas corpus petitions and mandate petitions. The two-volume Appeals
and Writs series is popular with prisoner litigators, too, adding discussion on applicable rules of court. Of course, the library carries the rules
of court (state and federal) in separate volumes, but they are often difficult to comprehend. California criminal law questions are best answered
in California Criminal Law and Procedure. Similarly, federal habeas corpus law is thoroughly reviewed in Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure.