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Prison Legal News v. Crawford, NV, Complaint, NV DOC Censorship, 2000

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DONALD YORK EVANS, ESQ .
Slate Bar No. 1070
P.O. Box 864
Ren o. :-..V 89504
(775) 348· 7400

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Coopcratin~

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David C . Falhi
National Prison Projcct of the ACL U foundatjon
1875 Connecticut Ave. N\V #410
WMhinglOll. DC 20009
(20 2) 234-4830

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Anomey for me
ACl U of Nevada

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Attorne;.'s Fox Plaintiffs

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UNITED 51'A TES DISTRICT CO URT

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DI STRICT OF !'<cVADA

PRISOlli LEGAL NEWS,
a Washington Slate Corporation ,
ami ROLLIN WRI G HT,
Plaintiffs.

CASE NO, CV-N-OO-0373· II U M-RAM

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JACKIE eRA \\TORD in her o fficial
cepecay , JOHN SLANSKY. in his
official-and ind ivid ual capacities,
RORERT SAYER. in his
official and individual capecrues.
DOES I-XXV. Defendant RED
A:-ill WHI TE CO RPORAnONS
I-X. and BLACK M U BLUE STATE
and'or MUNICIPAL E~T1ES I-X.

Defendan ts .
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FIRST

.U I E ~ D F. D

C O I\IPLAI:'IlT FO R DEC LARATORY A."'i D
I:'iJ UNCTl y E RE LIEF ;\.....0 PA:\1AGES

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Plaintiffs brin g th is action . pu~uant 10 42 USC §I Q83, 10 enjo in the Ne .... ada

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Dcpartment ofPrisons(NDOP) from ce nsoring, in violation of the First Amendment, the

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rece ipt of the journal PRISON LEGAL NEWS by NOOP prisoners in the State of

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Nevada. Plaintiffs also bring this action to have NDOP's ban on "inmate publications"

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as embodied in AD 4 1-95 declared unccnstnutional on its face and as applied. Plaintiffs

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also seek declaratory and permanent injunctive relief pursuan t to 28 U.s.c. §2201(a)

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proh ibiting the Nevada Depart men t of Prisons from engagi ng in further censorship of

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Prison Legal News, as well as damages.

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JJilU SD ICTION
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"Ib is action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.c. §§1,}83 and 1988, as well as

the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Jurisdiction is
found ed on 28 U.S.C . §133 1 and §1343 and the a forementioned statutory and

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constitutional provisions. This Court has jurisdiction to grant the declaratory relief

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requested pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2201 and FRCP 57.

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VENUE:
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Venue lies properly in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1391(b).

PARTIES
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Plaintill"ROLLIN \VRIGHT, is and at all times pertinent hereto was the

publisher of the publication known as the PRISON LEGAL NEWS,

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Plaintiff PRISON LEGAL NEWS ("PLN"), is and at all times relevant

hereto was a 50I(c)(3) non-profit corporation with offices in Seattle, Was hington. PLN
publishes PRISON LEGAL NEWS, a monthly journal of'c orrec uons. news and analysis,
PLN has over 3,500 subscribers in the United States and abro ad, including prisoners,

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attorneys , and j udges .

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Department of Prison s ("NODP"), a State agency under the auspi ces of the Department

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5.

Defendant JACKIE CRAWFORD is the director of the Nevada

of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety, (D MV/PS) which manages the correct ional
facilities within the State of Nevada. She is ultimately responsible for the promulgation
and enforce me nt o f NDOP policies and procedures. Ms. CRA WFORD is sued in her
official capacity for prospective injunctive relief.
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Defendant JO IlN SLANSKY is the Assistant Director of NOO P and is the

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person who first, it appears, ordered the censorship o f'the PRlSON LEGAL N"E WS At

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all times relevant hereto, Defendant SLANSK Y was acting under the color of state

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authority and w ithin the co urse and scope of his employ ment with the State of Nevada,

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NDOP, and DMViPS . Mr. SLANSKY is sued in his official capacity for prospective

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inj unctive relief, as well as in his individual capacity .

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Defendant ROB ER T BA YE R is the form er Director of NDOP. Mr.

BAYE R is sued in both his offici al and individual capaci ties.
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The true identities of Defendant DOES I-XXV, Defendant RED AND

WI liTE C ORPO RATIONS I-X, and BLACK AND BLUE STATE and/or IvfUNICIPAL

ENTITI ES I- X, are c urre ntly unknown to Plaintiffs. who there fore sue said Defendants
by such fictitious names. Plaintiffs, based upon knowl edge and information, reasonab ly
believe and therefore allege that each of the Defendan ts designated herein as DOES lXXV, RED AND ViHlTECORPORATIONS I-X , and BLACK AND HUJE STATE
and/or MUNlCIPAL ENTITIES I-X, may be responsibl e in some manner for events and
happenings herein re ferre d to ; that Plaintiffs will ask leave to amend this Complaint to
insert the true nam e'{s) of said Defendant(s) when the same have been ascertained by

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Plaintiffs together with app ropriate allegations an d to j oin such Defendanu s} as and

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when it (they ) become known in this ac tion in thei r true capac ities.
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Plaintiffs ha ve been forced to incur reasonable attorney's fees and costs

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in pursuit of this actio n, incl uding, but nOI necessar ily lim ite d to, those contemplated by

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42 USC § 1988.

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ADMINISTRATIVE REM EDIES

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and therefore have no other adequate remedy at law other than the relief requested
herein.
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Plaintiffs PLN and ROLLIN WRIGHT hav e no standing with the NDOP,

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FIRST C LA IM FOR RELIEF
42 USC §1983
Violation O(Publishcr' s First And Fourteenth Am cndmqll Rjght}
Plaintiffs hereby incorporate by reference al l allegadons co ntained

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numbered paragraphs of this Complaint as if set fonh fully here.

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Plaintiff. ROLLIN WRIGHT. is the Publisher of Plaintiff PRISON

LEGAL NEWS, a 50 1(c)( 3 ) non-profit corporation, originally organized under t he la ws
of the Sta te of Washington in 1991. The pUI'JlO"e ofthe organiza tion as stated in PLN's
Anicles of Incorporation , A rticle 3, Part 6 is: -to educate prisoners and the public about

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the destru ctive nature of rac ism . sexism, and lhe econom ic and soc ial costs of prison ( 0

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society,"

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them , and DOES I-XXV, have refused to allow del ivery of any mail from

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Beginning in approximately September of 1999.l.kfcndanls, and each of

including but not limi te d to, the j ourn al P RISO N LEG AL NEWS, to one or more of'the

prisoners under the co ntro l of the NDOP, under the "inmate correspondence" and
" inmate pu blication" policies adopted at vario us prisons and institutio ns thro ughout the
State of Nevada, includi ng but not necessarily lim ited to. the Southern Desert
Com:ctio nal Cemer (SDCC). Ely Sta te Prison(ESP ), and Northern Ne\ada Correctio nal
Center (!'o'NCC ). This censorship and refusal to a110..... delivery of publicanons is
occurri ng even though Defendan ts or persons w ho report 10 De fendants have previously
approved these subscriptions 10

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Issues of

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fl.::::!.. ..... hich Defendants now refuse to deliv er.

that have been coofiscared andiOf discarded rather !han

delivered to their prisoner subscribers. include pol itical s peec h, which is e ntitled to the
highest protection under the Consti tulion of the United States.
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Defendan ts' re fusa l 10 allow de live r)' of PRISON LEGAl

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constitutes a violation of the Firsl Amendment rights of Plaintiffs

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Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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and

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ROLLI~

WRIGH T. as made applicable to the State of Nevada through the Fourteenth

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PRI SON LEGAL NE WS is protected pol itical speech and violate'S no

prison policies nor regulations otha than th e alleged ~ inmate p ubhcatson" policies and

regulations at issue. Defendant Su\NSKY has refused to de!i\"eT or al low delivery of
copies of PRISON LEGAL NE WS to prisoners in ~l)()P l:OlTCCtional facilit ies who had
subscribed to this publicatio n, solely on the grounds that these publications an: "inmate

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publicanona", pursuant to -AD41 ·95 w • Defendants' refusaJ to de liver or allow delivery

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of PR ISO N LEGAL NE WS to prisoners who have: subscribed to these publications

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constitutes a violat ion ofthc Fin!. Amendment rights of P laintilTs ROL LI N WRIGHT.
and flJi as made ap plicable to the State o Dievada through the

Foun~nth

Ame ndmem

to the Unite d States Consntcuoe. De fendants ' blan ket ban on "inmate publications " is

so vague and overbroad tha t it cou ld pro hibit NDOP prisoners from receiving Mart in
Luther King, 1r:s -t.eucr From the Birmingham Jail. "

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prison writings of world

lea ders suc h as Mahatm a Ga nd hi, Nelson Mandcla, and v acla v Ha ve l, and the works o f
numerous Nobe l Prize winners . Th is vague ness and over breadth invi tes arbitrary and
discrim ina tory en forcement .

In fact, de fendants ' ban on " inm ate p ub lications" is

enforced nOI according 10 any obj ective stan dards, bUI accordi ng to the personal

prejudices of individual NDOP o fficials. For the se reasons, the ban is substantial ly
cverbrced and imperm issibly \·;sgue in violation of the ..·irst and Fourteenth
Amendments.
16.

Plainli ffs arc enuuee to a declaration that all regu lations and /or

instrucdons, administrative directives, institutional procedures or policies

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which

De fendants base their rd usallo del iver 01" allo.... delivery or PRISON LEGAl. SEWS
to priSOfk.'TS ....ho

have a subsc ri ption, sol ely because De fendants characterize these

publications as "inmate pu b lications" , an: unconstitutional as a pp lied. in violation ofthe
F irst Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. by and through 42 U.S.C. §1983 .
Plaint iffs arc entitled 10 a declaration th at defendants ' b lanket ban on "inm ate
publica tions" is unconstitutional on its face and as appli ed. because it is substan tially

overbroad and impermissibly vague in violation of piaimiffs' rights under the First and

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Fourteenth Amendments.
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from refus ing 10 process and deliver, or allow delivery 0 1: PRISON LEGAL NEWS to
prisoners who have a subscription solely on the grounds that these publications constitute

"inmate pub lications". Plaintiffs are ent itled to an injunction permanently enjoining
enforcement of defendants ' blanket ban on " inmate publications."
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WHER EFORE , Plaintiffs pray rene r as is more fully enumerated below.

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As a proximate and direct resul t of Defendants' actions, Plaintiffs ha ve

suffered damages in an amount to be more fully enumerated at trial.

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PlaintilTs are entitled to an entry of an injunction proh ibiting Defendants

SECON D CLAIM (' O R RELlEF
42 USC §1983, Fourteenth Amendment
Pro~edurdl

Duc Proq:ss Violations

Plaintiffs hereby incorporate by reference all allegat ions contained in all
numbered paragraphs of this Complaint as if set forth fully here.
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Since approximately Scptcmber oflvvv. Defendants have denied Plainti ffs

their right to due process under the Fo urt eenth Amendment to the Uni ted States

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Co nsti tution by faili ng to prov ide Plaint iffs notice and an opp ortunity to be heard when

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mail they have sent to Nevada prisoners, inclu din g but not limited 10, the journal

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PRI SO N LEG AL NEWS, is censored.

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Defe ndants ' actions, as described above, also constitute a violati on of

Pla intiffs' civil rights under 42 USC § 1983.
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The Plaintiffs arc entitled to a declaration that Defendants have violated

the Fourteenth Am endme nt to the United Stales Co nstitution and 42 USC §19 83 by
refusi ng to notify them when publications they have mailed to prisoners have bee n

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from enacting and enforcing policies, proc edures. administrative directives. etc., to

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confiscate and/or d iscard pu blications without notification to the publisher that such

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confiscated and/or discarded rather than de livered to the subscribing pri soners.

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publications have bee n confiscated and/or discarded rather than delivered.
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WHER EFORE, Plaintiffs pray relief as is more fully enumerated below.

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HURD CLAIM FOR RELIEF

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In junct ive Relief

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As a pro ximate and direct resul t of Defendants ' actions, Plaintiffs have

suffered damages in an a mount 10 be more fully enu me rate d at trial.

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The Plaintiffs arc also e nt itled to an inj unction prohibiting Defen dan ts

Pla intiffs hereby incorporate by re ference all allegat ions contained in all

numbered paragraphs of this Complaint as if set forth fully here .
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Plaintiffs respectfu lly request that this Co urt issue a pennanent injunction

enjoining Defendants, and each of them, from interfering wit h or refusing the delivery

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of PLN publications and other mail or subscription information from PLN within the

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a permanent inj unction enjoining defendants from enforcing the ir blanket ban on "inmate

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NDOP system , anywhere within the State of Nevada. Plaintiffs ask this Court to issue

publications."
WHEREFORE Plainti ffs pray relief as is more fully enumerated below,

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fOURTH CI.AIM FOR RELIEF

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Declaratorv Relief
Plaintiffs hereby incorporate by re ference all allegations conta ined in all
numbered paragraphs of this Complain! as if set forth fully here.
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Plaintiffs request a declaratory j udgment establishing that the policies and

procedures ofcensor ship which result in Defendant s not delivering or refusing to allow

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delivery to prisoners of PRlSON LEGAL NEWS and other mail from fU:J: are in

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violation of Plaintiffs ' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the Constitution of

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the United Stales. Plamnffs requ est a declaration that defendants' blanket ban on

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" inmate pub lications" is unconstitut ional on its face and as applied. because il is

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substantial ly overbroad and impermissibly vague in violation of plainIi tn' rights under

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the Firs!: and Fourteenth Amendmen ts .

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\\lIEREFO RE, PlainufTs pnt)' relief as is more fully en umerated below .

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FI fTH C A LISE O F A CIIQ:-i

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Punitive Damages

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Plainti ffs hereby incorporate by reference al\ allega tions contained in all

numbered paragraphs of this C om plai nt as if $1:1 forth full)' her e.

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Ptainnffs allege that the individual Defendants acted w ith deliberate

indi fference or reckless disregard fur PlaintilTs' clearly established constitutional rights.
and have viola ted Plaintiffs' clearly established constitutional right s. and these actions
taken by the individ ual De fendants we re the d irect ami pro ximate cause of the damages
suffered by Plain tiffs, and therefore, puniti ve damages should be awarded to p unls h them
for their m isconduct, and to deter sim ilar misconduct by s imilar ly situated defendants in

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the future . The amount of these punitive damage should be determ ined at tria l.

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WlIEREFORE. PI,inll lTs pray re lie f as is more fully enumerated below .

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V,1iER£FORE. P lainti lTs pray j udgm e nt against the Defendants , and each o f
them. as follows :

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rRA \"ER

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For general damages in an amouItl IO be morepreci!oely determined at trial ;

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For special damages

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For pun itive dam ages in an amount to be more precisely determined at

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For a pre liminary and permanent inj unction as described herein;

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For declaratory re lie f as speci fically requested herein ;

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For attorne y' s te es and costs of suit necessarily incurred herein;

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lUl amount 10 be more precisel y derermmed at trial;

trial;

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to Plaintiffs: and

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For leave to amen d this Complaint sho uld addi tional facts become known

For such othe r and furth er relief as this Court may deem just and

appropriate in the prem iscs

DATED : Thi s

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day of August, 200 0.

-om JYYDRR EVANS, ESQ.

P.

,, 864

Reno, NY 89504
(775) 34 8-7400
, Atto rney tor the
of Nevada

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CERTI FICATE OF SF-RVleE
r certify that I am an "mrloyee of DONALD YORK EVANS , ESQ., and !halon

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deposited for mailing, via U. S. mail

___ caused to be delivered. via Reno· Carson Messenger Service
___ _ delivered via facsim ile machine

____ personally 'khvered
a true and COlTec t copy of the foregoing document, addres""d to :
Craig Skau, Esq.
Ass istant Solicitor General
lOO N. Carson SIred
Carson City , NY 8970 1-4717
DATED this

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