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Muhammad v. Brumfield

September 12, 2008

SHAKA MUHAMMAD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
V.D. BRUMFIELD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1).

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that complaints contain a ". . . short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This means that claims must be stated simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir. 1996). Because plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is impossible for the court to conduct the screening required by law when the allegations are vague and conclusory.

I. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff brings this action under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"). Plaintiff names the following as defendants: Brumfield, Miles, Nasir, and Sisto.*fn1 Plaintiff states that he requested access to religious services for "Nation of Islam for Saturday and Sunday" and to "be allow" to teach specific religious doctrines. Plaintiff indicates that his request was granted at the first, second, and third levels, but that he is nonetheless being denied the right to practice his religious beliefs due to prison officials' "untrue and falsified statements with disregard for establish rules and regulations." Plaintiff seeks various forms of injunctive relief.

Documents attached to plaintiff's complaint provide more information as to the basis for his claim. A June 24, 2007, Director's level response to plaintiff's inmate grievance describes his claim as follows:

It is appellant's position that his religious needs are not being met at California State Prison, Solano (SOL). The appellant states his Muslim faith is the Lost Found Nation of Islam and not the Nation of Islam. The appellant states that [he] is a minister and he is requesting to be allowed to conduct Lost Found Nation of Islam services and to order from Lost Found Nation of Islam vendors. The appellant wants to be allowed to fast in the month of December.

The June 24th response indicates that the following decision was rendered at the second level:

The reviewer found that it has been explained to the appellant that Chaplain Nasir is available to sponsor the appellant's religious group activities as he is versed in the various religious activities within the Muslim culture. The appellant has been directed to provide Chaplain Nasir with information regarding the vendor the appellant is requesting and the items the appellant seeks. The appellant has not been restricted from fasting. The appellant's central file reflects that he was denied recognition as a Senegalese Wolof Muslin and he has not been appointed as a minster as he claims. The appellant has been advised that every inmate has the right to practice their individual religious beliefs; as long as it is done within the established regulations and does not threaten[] the security of the institution. Staff have also informed the appellant that he may request to receive religious items; however, he must order them through the institutional chaplain. Staff indicates that the only restriction placed on the ordering of artifacts is that any item must be approved through the chaplain and that it must not threaten the security of the institution.

At the Director's level, plaintiff's issue was referred to the Religious Review Committee for further consideration.

In the complaint, plaintiff confirms that he was informed that Chaplain Nasir is available to sponsor plaintiff's religious practice. He also states that, while his request to fast during the month of December was granted, he was not permitted to conduct separate services from those held for Nation of Islam members. Plaintiff adds:

Defendants prison guard Lieutenant Norris,*fn2 Associate Warden J.D. Brumfield, Custody Captain M.B. Miles, and Muslim Chaplain Abdul R. Nasir has been systematically [denying] Plaintiff his right to religious artifacts, and Kosher/Halal food by the deliberate erroneous abuse of defendant Abdul R. Nasir. While other religious faith groups are allowed to practice there belief in worship observance and teaching, receive religious artifacts and offer prayer in congregation and with a fundamental disregard for the law and section 3of the Religious Land Use and Institutional Act of 2000. . . .

Plaintiff asserts that defendants' conduct has resulted in a substantial burden on ...


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