Court Rules Arizona Prison Officials Violated Death-Row Inmate's Rights

By  Al Macias
August 11, 2014

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Arizona prison officials violated a death-row inmate's rights when they read a letter from him to his attorney. The court said that violation infringed on the inmate’s right to counsel.

Scott Nordstrom is on Arizona’s death row for the 1996 murders of six people in Tucson during two different robberies. He claimed prison officials read a letter he had written to his attorney thus infringing on his right to counsel. Prison officials said they are allowed to scan mail in the presence of the inmate for contraband, but a divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said "inspecting letters and reading them are two different things."  The panel ordered the case back to the district court that had previously dismissed Nordstrom's claim. The district court will now reconsider the case.