Remembering Johnson v. Avery, the Jailhouse Lawyer Case

First Amendment scholar David L. Hudson, Jr. looks back at the landmark Supreme Court case that allowed “jailhouse lawyers” to help other inmates with their legal pleadings.

Only a few people remember the name of William Joe Johnson, also known as “Joe Writs.” That’s a shame, because he significantly changed the legal landscape for anyone concerned with prisoner rights and access to the courts.

Mr. Johnson was an inmate who helped other inmates with legal pleadings. He was a classic “jailhouse lawyer.” Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for rape, earned a stunning victory before the United States Supreme Court in 1969 in Johnson v. Avery.

Read the full article in the Tennessee Bar Association Journal.

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