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Kyntrel JACKSON/Sinister Daevayasnaham God, Plaintiff, v. Shawna PATZKOWSKI and R. Zaragoza, Defendants.
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Plaintiff Kyntrel Jackson/Sinister Daevayasnaham God sues Defendants Shawna Patzkowski and R. Zaragoza under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking injunctive relief requiring them to provide him a Satanist ritual book entitled Grimorium Verum, which he ordered online and had shipped to him in prison. Jackson claims that, by refusing to give him this book, Patzkowski and Zaragoza violated his rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a).
Before the Court, without oral argument, is Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 117. Having reviewed the pleadings and the file in this matter, the Court is fully informed. The Court grants summary judgment in favor of Zaragoza but denies summary judgment in favor of Patzkowski. The Court also takes under consideration whether to grant partial summary judgment in favor of Jackson. The Court therefore continues the pretrial conference and trial.
Jackson is an inmate formerly housed in the Intensive Management Unit of the Washington State Penitentiary. ECF No. 119-2 at 2–3; ECF No. 128 at 15, 20, 34; ECF No. 128-1 at 7, 35, 45; ECF No. 130-1 at 5, 10, 16, 23, 31, 68. Patzkowski and Zaragoza are both Washington State Department of Corrections employees whose jobs involve the prison mailroom in different capacities. ECF No. 119 at 1; ECF No. 120 at 1. Patzkowski is a Mail Process Driver and Zaragoza is a Corrections and Custody Officer. ECF No. 119 at 1; ECF No. 120 at 1.
Jackson ordered a copy of Grimorium Verum from Amazon.com. ECF No. 128-1 at 31, 35; ECF No. 130-1 at 64, 68; ECF No. 137 at 1. When the prison mailroom received this publication, it did not provide it to Jackson and instead sent it out for review. See ECF No. 137 at 1. Others who are not parties to this lawsuit ultimately rejected the publication. Id. Jackson unsuccessfully challenged this decision through the mail rejection appeal process. Id. at 2.
But the saga began months earlier. In May 2017, Jackson lodged an “Offender Complaint” to address what he anticipated would be a rejection of his incoming mail. ECF No. 128-1 at 33; ECF No. 130-1 at 66. In it, Jackson laid groundwork for the ensuing dispute, writing,
Last week I wrote a kite to the mailroom about my book I ordered to make them aware of it. I was sent a kite back telling me that they would deny my book․ Now I sent them the info about the book (Grimorium Verum ․) explaining that the book is religious․ Now per policy 450.100 page 11 E. cleary says no book will be withheld solely on the basis of their appeal to a particular ․ religious ․ group․ This is going against policy & denying me my religious rights.
[T]his Grievance is not for a mail rejection & thus has no other form of appeal process. It is for not following policy & law.
ECF No. 128-1 at 33; ECF No. 130-1 at 66. Two days later, the prison grievance coordinator responded, “You cannot grieve something that hasn't happened. If and when you get a rejection, the rejection can be appealed, so that cannot be grieved.” ECF No. 128-1 at 33; ECF No. 130-1 at 66.
A little over three weeks later, Jackson wrote to the prison mailroom, stating, “I ordered a religious sacred writings book (Grimorium Verum) from amazon & have not got it yet,” and providing the package's tracking number. ECF No. 128-1 at 30; ECF No. 130-1 at 63. The next day, Patzkowski responded, “As of today, have not received any books for you since 3/31/17. This tracking # is not found in USPS & FedEx.” ECF No. 128-1 at 30; ECF No. 130-1 at 63.
A few days later, Jackson wrote back, stating, “I check amazon again & would like to apologize for my mistake. They said the book (Grimorium Verum) my religious sacred writings book should be here on 6-21-17.” ECF No. 128-1 at 29; ECF No. 130-1 at 62. On June 21, 2017, Patzkowski responded, “As of today, have not received it. If it came UPS or FedEx it has to go through the warehouse first.” ECF No. 128-1 at 29; ECF No. 130-1 at 62.
That day, Jackson wrote to the prison mailroom, stating, “I had a sacred writings religious book get here & signed for on 6/21/17. The Book name is (Grimorium Verum). Can you please confirm You told me my book would have to go to a warehouse first. Do you mean the warehouse here?” ECF No. 128-1 at 28; ECF No. 130-1 at 61. On June 26, 2017, Patzkowski responded, “Book has been received & being reviewed by HQ.” ECF No. 128-1 at 28; ECF No. 130-1 at 61.
That same day, Patzkowski issued a “Rejection Notice” indicating she had rejected Jackson's incoming mail containing Grimorium Verum because it was “written in a foreign language (English and French).” ECF No. 128-1 at 35; ECF No. 130-1 at 68. The notice explained, “THIS BOOK HAS BEEN SENT TO THE PUBLICATION REVIEW COMMITTEE FOR REVIEW. YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED OF THEIR DECISION.” ECF No. 128-1 at 35; ECF No. 130-1 at 68.
On June 29, 2017, Jackson wrote to the Publication Review Committee, stating,
I had a sacred writing religious book sent to your committee due to it was a french book written in 1504 translated to english in 2007. Due to the time period it was originally written in & because of it's religious back ground, I ask if you may please address your concerns with Chaplain Ivey. Chaplain Ivey knows about my religious background & will be able to answer all your concerns.
ECF No. 128-1 at 27; ECF No. 130-1 at 60. About two weeks later, Zaragoza responded, “Is this a rejection? If so when questioning a rejection please provide the rejection file number.” ECF No. 128-1 at 27; ECF No. 130-1 at 60.
On July 19, 2017, Patzkowski issued another “Rejection Notice” indicating she had decided to reject Jackson's incoming mail containing Grimorium Verum. ECF No. 119-2 at 2. The notice contained the following “Mailroom Decision”:
Reason (Specify Number(s) as listed on back of form): #1 Directive III, B ․
Comments/Other Reasons (required): Policy 450.100 Mail will be rejected based on legitimate penological interests, including those outlined in Unauthorized Mail.
Book contains instructions on rituals using human blood, skulls, and bones; sacrificing animals (goats, roosters, hens, pigoens); instructions on using knives and needles for certain rituals; and mind manipulation and power over females using rituals and potions.
WAC 137-25-030-506 - Threatening another with bodily harm or with any offense against any person or property
Id. On August 17, 2017, the Publication Review Committee “upheld” Patzkowski's decision without elaboration. Id. at 3.
Patzkowski's decision cited (1) Rejection Reason 1, located on the back side of the Rejection Notice; (2) Directive III.B, contained within Policy 450.100; and (3) Serious Violation 506, proscribed by Washington Administrative Code section 137-25-030. Id. at 2.
Rejection Reason 1 reads, “Not specifically authorized by [Policy] 450.100 Mail for Prison Offenders or any other policy or applicable Operational Memorandum.” Id. at 4. Directive III.B provides, “Mail will be rejected based on legitimate penological interests and per Unauthorized Mail (Attachment 1).”1 ECF No. 119-1 at 6. Serious Violation 506 is defined as “[t]hreatening another with bodily harm or with any offense against any person or property.” Wash. Admin. Code § 137-25-030 (Category B, Level 3); accord ECF No. 119-2 at 2.
Also relevant is Policy 560.200, see ECF No. 117 at 8 n.2; ECF No. 128-1 at 15, which provides, “Offenders may possess religious items as outlined in Attachment 1, with some exceptions for offenders in Intensive Management Units (IMUs),” Wash. State Dep't of Corr., Religious Programs, Policy 560.200, Directive IV.E.1 (rev. Feb. 17, 2014), https://doc.wa.gov/information/policies/show File.aspx?name=560200.2 Under Attachment 1, “Allowable Individual Religious Items” include one copy of each of the following books and literature:
Bible any authorized version, Prayer Books, Book of Mormon, Bhagavad-Gita, Bhagovata Purana, Qur'an, New World Translation, Torah, Kebra Nagast, Guru Granth Sahib, Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, Book of Shadows, Sutra Book, The Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, Satanic Bible, church magazines, religious calendars, and Sacred Writings, Hadith, cloth wrapped; may be electronic versions, including language tapes and CDs; ․
ECF No. 128-1 at 15 (emphasis omitted).
During discovery, Patzkowksi answered one of Jackson's interrogatories by explaining that, in rejecting his copy of Grimorium Verum, she “was going by policy” because “the book is a ritual book which [she] did not think was considered ‘Religious.’ ” ECF No. 128 at 32; ECF No. 128-1 at 43; ECF No. 130-1 at 21.
Jackson refutes Patzkowski's characterization of Grimorium Verum and argues it contains “nothing threatening besides being satanic.” ECF No. 128-1 at 38–40; ECF No. 130-1 at 70–72. Jackson argues “the rejection of the book imposed a burden on [his] religious practice.” ECF No. 130 at 14. Jackson elaborates that “[t]he denial of the book stops [him] from learning historical meanings on satanic practice” because “[t]he book Grimorium Verum is a historical book for the Satanic community that was written in 1504 that has original texts that were removed from the bible in 1611 (King James) that describes the history on demons.” Id. Jackson explains that, although different Satanist sects “have books targeted towards them,” they “still have one historical text being their ‘Holy Bible,’ which is what Grimorium Verum, The Grand Grimoire, & The Lemegeton are to Satanism.” Id. at 15.
Indeed, Grimorium Verum’s preface describes it as “one of the most notorious handbooks of black magic – one of the few that deals openly with spirits of darkness.” ECF No. 121-1 at 4; ECF No. 128-1 at 31; ECF No. 130-1 at 64. As the ritual book explains, “People have long sought the aid of non-physical beings; the biblical king Solomon in particular had a reputation since ancient times for commanding demons.” ECF No. 121-1 at 4; ECF No. 128-1 at 31; ECF No. 130-1 at 64. While “many texts purport[ ] to reveal Solomon's methods,” still, “most are extremely complicated and difficult,” and Grimorium Verum is more accessible. ECF No. 128-1 at 31; ECF No. 130-1 at 64.
Grimorium Verum deals extensively with demonology, including, most notably, “Lucifer”—“a synonym for Satan, the devil.” ECF No. 121-1 at 6; see, e.g., id. at 7, 15–17, 28, 44–45, 47, 51, 54, 61. The ritual book also deals with “Beelzebuth,” “Astaroth,” and “lesser spirits.” Id. at 6. Considering the topics the ritual book explores, it contains the following warning:
Part of the fascination of this text is no doubt due to the many grotesque and criminal elements, such as using a human skull and blood. This is particularly true in the appended “amazing secrets.” These should in no way be regarded in any other way than horror fiction. Anyone attempting them literally is more likely to end up in jail, or a hospital for the criminally insane, rather than experience true magic.
Id. at 5.
The Court must grant summary judgment if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.
The moving party bears the initial burden of showing no genuine dispute of material fact exists because a reasonable jury could not find in favor of the nonmoving party. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588 n.10, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). If the moving party makes this showing, the nonmoving party then bears the burden of showing a genuine dispute of material fact exists because reasonable minds could differ on the result. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248–51, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Matsushita Elec. Indus., 475 U.S. at 586–87, 106 S.Ct. 1348.
The nonmoving party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of its pleading and must instead set forth specific facts, and point to substantial probative evidence, tending to support its case and showing a genuine issue requires trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248–49, 106 S.Ct. 2505. The Court must enter summary judgment against the nonmoving party if it fails to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to its case and on which it would bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548.
In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 657, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 188 L.Ed.2d 895 (2014) (quoting Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970)). Thus, the Court must accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505. The Court may not assess credibility or weigh evidence. See id.
A. Section 1983
Patzkowski and Zaragoza argue they did not personally deprive Jackson of his protected rights because only the Publication Review Committee could make the final decision to reject Grimorium Verum. See ECF No. 117 at 5–6, 9–11.
“Traditionally, the requirements for relief under section 1983 have been articulated as: (1) a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute, (2) proximately caused (3) by conduct of a ‘person’ (4) acting under color of state law.” Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). Section 1983 establishes liability if a state actor “subjects” a person to a deprivation of a protected right or “causes” a person “to be subjected” to such deprivation. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A state actor “subjects” a person to a deprivation “if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation.” Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, 915 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc) (quoting Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978)). A state actor “causes” a person “to be subjected” to a deprivation either “by some kind of direct personal participation in the deprivation” or “by setting in motion a series of acts by others which the actor knows or reasonably should know would cause others to inflict the constitutional injury.” Id. (quoting Johnson, 588 F.2d at 743–44).
Thus, “an official ‘need not be directly and personally involved in the same way as are the individual officers who are on the scene inflicting constitutional injury’ to be held liable as long as ‘culpable action ․ is directly attributed to [him].’ ” Id. at 915–16 (alteration and omission in original) (quoting Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205 (9th Cir. 2011)). After all, “each Government official, his or her title notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Thus, when assessing causation, the Court “must take a very individualized approach which accounts for the duties, discretion, and means of each defendant.” Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633–34 (9th Cir. 1988). Where the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, the Court's causation inquiry “is broader and more generalized.” Id. at 633.
Jackson presents no evidence that Zaragoza played any role whatsoever in rejecting Grimorium Verum.3 Accordingly, no genuine dispute of material fact exists and Zaragoza is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
However, Jackson has presented sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find Patzkowski either directly participated in rejecting Grimorium Verum or set in motion a series of acts that she knew or reasonably should have known would cause others to do so. It was Patzkowski who issued the Rejection Notice that the Publication Review Committee ultimately upheld without elaboration. See ECF No. 119-2 at 2–3. And it was Patzkowski who selected which sample pages to provide the Publication Review Committee. See ECF No. 119 at 3.
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Jackson, a reasonable jury could find Patzkowski played a substantial role in rejecting Grimorium Verum. Such a finding would support a conclusion that Patzkowski “subject[ed]” Jackson to a deprivation of his protected rights or “cause[d]” him “to be subjected” to a deprivation. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Accordingly, a genuine dispute of material fact exists and Patzkowski is not entitled to judgment as a matter if law.
B. Injunctive relief
Patzkowski argues she does not have authority to carry out injunctive relief in Jackson's favor. See ECF No. 117 at 10–13; ECF No. 132 at 5–6. But she cites no relevant evidence or binding legal authority in support of this argument. Jackson notes that Patzkowski and Zaragoza fully obliged when the Court ordered them to make the Grimorium Verum available to him during discovery. See ECF No. 128 at 5–6, 8; ECF No. 130 at 5–6, 8, 16–17. And as discussed above, Patzkowski certainly played a significant role in determining whether Jackson received the Grimorium Verum. It is reasonable to infer she can play that role still, especially in light of the events during discovery and considering Jackson's argument that the Publication Review Committee's rejection decision is subject to change, depending on what the Court ultimately orders. See ECF No. 128 at 5–6, 8; ECF No. 130 at 5–6, 8, 16–17. Accordingly, a genuine dispute of material fact exists and Patzkowski is not entitled to judgment as a matter if law.
C. First Amendment
Patzkowski argues she did not violate Jackson's First Amendment rights. See ECF No. 117 at 5–9. “Inmates clearly retain protections afforded by the First Amendment, including its directive that no law shall prohibit the free exercise of religion.” O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 348, 107 S.Ct. 2400, 96 L.Ed.2d 282 (1987) (citation omitted). However, “[l]awful incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and rights, a retraction justified by the considerations underlying our penal system.” Id. (alteration in original) (quoting Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266, 285, 68 S.Ct. 1049, 92 L.Ed. 1356 (1948)).
Thus, a prison regulation may impinge upon an inmate's right to freely exercise his or her religion if the regulation is “reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.” Id. at 349, 107 S.Ct. 2400 (quoting Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89, 107 S.Ct. 2254, 96 L.Ed.2d 64 (1987)). This test depends on the following four factors:
(1) whether there is a valid, rational connection between the conduct of prison officials and the legitimate governmental interest put forward to justify it; (2) whether there are alternative means of exercising the right that remain open to prison inmates; (3) the impact accommodation of the asserted constitutional right will have on guards and other inmates, and on the allocation of prison resources generally; and (4) whether there are ready alternatives to the prison's practice.
Jones v. Williams, 791 F.3d 1023, 1032 n.5 (9th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Ward v. Walsh, 1 F.3d 873, 876 (9th Cir. 1993)).
Patzkowski argues, without evidence, that rejecting Grimorium Verum does not substantially interfere with Jackson's religious exercise because the ritual book is not central to his religious doctrine and he can still possess an alternative text, the Satanic Bible. See ECF No. 117 at 7–9. But the record shows that Jackson identifies Grimorium Verum as a sacred writing, for which the Satanic Bible is not a substitute, because the ritual book deals extensively with demonology and depriving him of it denies him important religious knowledge. See ECF No. 121-1 at 4, 6–7, 15–17, 28, 44–45, 47, 51, 54, 61; ECF No. 128-1 at 31, 38–40, 60–63; ECF No. 130 at 14–15; ECF No. 130-1 at 64, 70–72.
Patzkowski argues Jackson has not identified a suitable alternative to rejecting Grimorium Verum. See ECF No. 117 at 8. But an obvious, ready alternative to banning the entire ritual book is redacting only those specific pages that caused Patzkowski concern—an option Jackson hinted at. See ECF No. 128 at 3, 7; ECF No. 130 at 3, 7. Withholding Grimorium Verum in its entirety was an exaggerated response to the problem Patzkowski perceived.
Finally, Patzkowski argues that rejecting Grimorium Verum serves the legitimate penological interests of security, order, and rehabilitation. See ECF No. 117 at 7–8. Patzkowski suggests that allowing Jackson to possess Grimorium Verum could impose some unspecified and unsubstantiated risk on guards and other inmates. See id. at 8. This is equivalent to “safety concerns because ․ [t]he Satanic Bible advocates violence, manipulation, disregard for authority and revenge.” Indreland v. Yellowstone Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 693 F. Supp. 2d 1230, 1241 (D. Mont. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). While some courts have upheld this justification and concluded that banning the Satanic Bible serves legitimate penological interests, some courts have ruled the opposite. See id. at 1241–42 (collecting cases). After reviewing the decisions of courts around the country, this Court tends to agree that banning the Satanic Bible is tenuous under the First Amendment, though the analysis depends on the facts of each case. Applicable prison policy appears to confirm this conclusion by expressly allowing inmates, including Jackson, to possess the Satanic Bible. See ECF No. 128-1 at 15. Thus, the Court will assume, without deciding, that the First Amendment would prohibit Patzkowski from rejecting Jackson's incoming mail containing the Satanic Bible.
The question thus becomes: what constitutionally meaningful distinction exists between Grimorium Verum—a Satanist ritual book—and the Satanist Bible itself? What risk does the former impose that the latter does not? Why would the First Amendment tolerate banning the former but not the latter? The record reveals no basis for drawing such distinctions.
In sum, the record does not identify how rejecting Grimorium Verum in any way advances the legitimate penological interests of security, order, and rehabilitation. Thus, a reasonable jury could find no “valid, rational connection” between the challenged action and the proffered justification. See Jones, 791 F.3d at 1032 n.5 (quoting Ward, 1 F.3d at 876). Rejecting Grimorium Verum is not “reasonably related” to the legitimate penological interests of security, order, and rehabilitation. O'Lone, 482 U.S. at 349, 107 S.Ct. 2400. Patzkowski is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Patzkowski argues she did not violate Jackson's RLUIPA rights. See ECF No. 117 at 9–10. RLUIPA provides,
No government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution, ․ even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person—
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). The Court must construe this provision “in favor of a broad protection of religious exercise, to the maximum extent permitted.” Id. § 2000cc-3(g).
RLUIPA establishes a burden-shifting framework: if a prisoner establishes that a governmental refusal to provide religious accommodation substantially burdens his or her religious exercise, the government must then prove that its actions further a compelling governmental interest and are the least restrictive means of doing so. See id. §§ 2000cc-1(a), -2(b); Fuqua v. Ryan, 890 F.3d 838, 848 (9th Cir. 2018).
1. Religious exercise
RLUIPA protects “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.”4 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-5(7)(A). RLUIPA's protections are “not limited to beliefs which are shared by all of the members of a religious sect.” Holt v. Hobbs, 574 U.S. 352, 135 S. Ct. 853, 863, 190 L.Ed.2d 747 (2015) (quoting Thomas v. Review Bd. of Ind. Emp't Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707, 715–16, 101 S.Ct. 1425, 67 L.Ed.2d 624 (1981)). “[B]ut, of course, a prisoner's request for an accommodation must be sincerely based on a religious belief and not some other motivation.” Id. at 862.
Here, there is no genuine dispute that rejecting Grimorium Verum implicated Jackson's religious exercise by denying his request to accommodate his sincerely-held religious beliefs. Therefore, Jackson has established the first element of an RLUIPA prima facie case.
2. Substantial burden
A substantial burden on religious exercise is a “limitation of religious practice” “ ‘[that] impose[s] a significantly great restriction or onus upon such exercise.’ ” Walker v. Beard, 789 F.3d 1125, 1135 (9th Cir. 2015) (quoting San Jose Christian Coll. v. City of Morgan Hill, 360 F.3d 1024, 1034 (9th Cir. 2004)). Government action places a substantial burden on religious exercise if it “tends to coerce the individual to forego her sincerely held religious beliefs or to engage in conduct that violates those beliefs.” Jones, 791 F.3d at 1033. “Under [First Amendment] cases, the availability of alternative means of practicing religion is a relevant consideration, but RLUIPA provides greater protection.” Holt, 135 S. Ct. at 862. Specifically, RLUIPA's “ ‘substantial burden’ inquiry asks whether the government has substantially burdened religious exercise ․, not whether the RLUIPA claimant is able to engage in other forms of religious exercise.” Id.
Again, the record shows that Jackson identifies Grimorium Verum as a sacred writing, for which the Satanic Bible is not a substitute, because the ritual book deals extensively with demonology and depriving him of it denies him important religious knowledge. See ECF No. 121-1 at 4, 6–7, 15–17, 28, 44–45, 47, 51, 54, 61; ECF No. 128-1 at 31, 38–40, 60–63; ECF No. 130 at 14–15; ECF No. 130-1 at 64, 70–72. Therefore, Jackson has established the second element of an RLUIPA prima facie case. The burden now shifts to Patzkowski.
3. Compelling interest
Certainly, “prison security is a compelling state interest, and ․ deference is due to institutional officials’ expertise in this area.” Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 725 n.13, 125 S.Ct. 2113, 161 L.Ed.2d 1020 (2005). But RLUIPA “contemplates a ‘more focused’ inquiry and ‘requires the Government to demonstrate that the compelling interest test is satisfied through application of the challenged law to the person—the particular claimant whose sincere exercise of religion is being substantially burdened.’ ” Holt, 135 S. Ct. at 863 (quoting Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 573 U.S. 682, 726, 134 S.Ct. 2751, 189 L.Ed.2d 675 (2014)). RLUIPA requires the Court to “ ‘scrutiniz[e] the asserted harm of granting specific exemptions to particular religious claimants’ and ‘to look to the marginal interest in enforcing’ the challenged government action in that particular context.” Id. (quoting Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. at 726–27, 134 S.Ct. 2751).
In the same way that the record reveals no reasonable relationship—no valid, rational connection—between rejecting Grimorium Verum and the legitimate penological interests of security, order, and rehabilitation, it appears Patzkowski cannot show her actions were “in furtherance of” compelling governmental interests. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a)(1). Patzkowski is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
4. Least restrictive means
RLUIPA's “ ‘least-restrictive-means standard is exceptionally demanding,’ and it requires the government to ‘sho[w] that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion by the objecting part[y].’ ” Holt, 135 S. Ct. at 864 (alterations in original) (quoting Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. at 728, 134 S.Ct. 2751). “[I]f a less restrictive means is available for the Government to achieve its goals, the Government must use it.” Id. (alteration in original) (quoting United States v. Playboy Entm't Grp., Inc., 529 U.S. 803, 815, 120 S.Ct. 1878, 146 L.Ed.2d 865 (2000)).
The issue is whether less restrictive means exist to achieve the goals intended by rejecting Grimorium Verum. As noted above, an obvious, ready alternative to banning the entire ritual book is redacting only those specific pages that cause concern—an option Jackson hinted at. See ECF No. 128 at 3, 7; ECF No. 130 at 3, 7. Thus, it appears Patzkowski cannot show her actions were “the least restrictive means of furthering” compelling governmental interests. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a)(2). Patzkowski is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
E. Partial summary judgment in Jackson's favor
The Court hereby notifies Patzkowski that it is considering granting partial summary judgment in Jackson's favor on his RLUIPA claim while reserving for trial all other issues identified above, including whether she personally participated in the alleged deprivation and whether she is subject to the injunctive relief sought. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f)(1) (“After giving notice and a reasonable time to respond, the court may ․ grant summary judgment for a nonmovant․”). The parties may file response and reply memoranda according to the default deadlines and page limits provided for dispositive motions. See LCivR 7(c)(2)(B)(ii), (d)(2)(A)(i), (f)(1), (3). The parties may support their respective positions in the customary manner provided for summary judgment motions. See LCivR 56(c)(1)(B)–(C).
F. Patzkowski's motion to strike
The Court denies Patzkowski's motion to strike attachments 8 and 11 to Jackson's response because it appears that they could be presented in some admissible form at trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548; S. Cal. Darts Ass'n v. Zaffina, 762 F.3d 921, 925–26 (9th Cir. 2014); Fraser v. Goodale, 342 F.3d 1032, 1036–37 (9th Cir. 2003).
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
1. Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 117, is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
A. The motion is granted as to Jackson's claims against Zaragoza.
B. The motion is denied as to Jackson's claims against Patzkowski.
2. The Clerk's Office is directed to enter JUDGMENT in favor of Zaragoza on Jackson's claims against him.
3. A motion hearing is SET without oral argument on January 13, 2019 at 6:30 PM, at which time the Court will determine whether to grant Jackson summary judgment on his RLUIPA claim against Patzkowski.
A. Patzkowski may file a response to this proposed action no later than twenty-one days from the date of this Order. The response shall not exceed twenty pages.
B. Jackson may file a reply regarding this proposed action no later than twenty-one days after mailing of the response. The reply shall not exceed ten pages.
4. Because this proposed action will affect the parties’ preparation for the pretrial conference and trial, good cause exists to reschedule the following matters:
A. The pretrial conference scheduled for December 19, 2019 is RESET to February 27, 2020 at 9:00 AM in Richland, Washington.
B. The trial scheduled for January 13, 2020 is RESET to March 30, 2020 at 9:00 AM in Richland, Washington. The final pretrial conference shall be held on March 30, 2020 at 8:30 AM in Richland, Washington.
C. The parties shall confer with the Courtroom Deputy regarding the Jury Evidence Recording System no later than February 20, 2020.
D. The parties shall submit their exhibits for trial no later than March 16, 2020.
E. The parties shall file and email to the Court their trial briefs, proposed jury instructions and verdict forms, requested voir dire, and list of exhibits to be admitted without objection no later than March 20, 2020.
F. All other dates, deadlines, and procedures remain unchanged.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
1. Attachment 1 to Policy 450.100 lists thirty-nine categories of prohibited mail items, including publications. Wash. State Dep't of Corr., Unauthorized Mail (rev. Dec. 2017), https://doc.wa.gov/information/policies/showFile.aspx?name=450100 a1. The record does not indicate whether Grimorium Verum falls within any of these categories.
2. Patzkowski and Zaragoza do not claim any such exceptions applied to Jackson. Regardless, the relevant portions of Policy 560.200 merely concern procedure. They establish a relatively collaborative decision-making process whereby (1) “[t]he Chaplain will work with IMU employees on a case-by-case basis to determine religious items available in IMU based on the offender's behavior and security concerns,” and (2) “The Chief of Security/designee and the Headquarters Program Manager for Religious Programs will work together to make the decision on an item in the event the Chaplain and IMU employees cannot agree,” Religious Programs, supra, Policy 560.200, Directive IV.E.1.b–1). It appears Jackson attempted to involve Chaplain Fred Ivey in this process, to no avail. See ECF No. 128 at 16–18, 35; ECF No. 128-1 at 27; ECF No. 130-1 at 6–8, 24, 60.
3. On July 13, 2017, Zaragoza responded to Jackson's correspondence by asking if he was writing about a publication rejection and requesting he provide the file number. ECF No. 128-1 at 27; ECF No. 130-1 at 60. The record contains no other evidence of Zaragoza's involvement. It is therefore undisputed that Zaragoza “did not handle the publication rejection,” ECF No. 120 at 2, and “was not involved in the rejection,” ECF No. 118 at 3.
4. RLUIPA's protections apply equally to Satanism as to all religions. See Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 712, 723–24, 125 S.Ct. 2113, 161 L.Ed.2d 1020 (2005).
SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR., United States District Judge
Response sent, thank you
Docket No: No. 4:17-cv-05189-SMJ
Decided: November 08, 2019
Court: United States District Court, E.D. Washington.
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