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Hazle v. Crofoot

April 6, 2010

BARRY A. HAZLE, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MITCH CROFOOT, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PAROLE OFFICER OF THE CDCR; BRENDA WILDING, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS UNIT SUPERVISOR OF THE CDCR; MATTHEW CATE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SECRETARY OF THE CDCR; SCOTT KERNAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CHIEF DEPUTY SECRETARY OF ADULT OPERATIONS OF THE CDCR; TIM HOFFMAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF ADULT PAROLE OPERATIONS IN CALIFORNIA; DEPUTY COMMISSIONER JALLINS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DEPUTY COMMISSIONER; AND WESTCARE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT, GRANTING DEFENDANT WESTCARE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, and DENYING PLAINTIFF'S CROSS-MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT*fn1

Pending are three motions for summary judgment or summary adjudication concerning Plaintiff's claims that Defendants violated his rights under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Specifically, Plaintiff argues these rights were violated when he was required to participate in a "12-step" drug rehabilitation program containing religious components as a condition of his parole.

Plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment ("Partial Mot.") on December 23, 2009. Plaintiff seeks a ruling in this motion that Defendants Mitchell Crofoot ("Crofoot"), Brenda Wilding ("Wilding"), and Richard Jallins ("Jallins") are liable for violating his rights under the Establishment Clause by not relieving Plaintiff from a condition of his parole requiring him to attend a 12-step program with religious components after Plaintiff objected to the religious components. Defendant Westcare California, Inc. ("Westcare") also filed a motion for summary judgment ("Westcare Mot.") on December 23, 2009, in which it argues Plaintiff is unable to establish a causal connection between Westcare's activities and his Establishment Clause claim. Westcare also argues in its motion that Plaintiff's request for a taxpayer's injunction enjoining Defendants from using state resources and funds to require parolees to participate in 12-step programs with religious components is moot. Lastly, Plaintiff filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment ("Cross Mot.") on January 26, 2010, in which he seeks a ruling that Westcare liable for violating his Establishment Clause rights. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's partial motion seeking to establish the liability of Crofoot, Wilding, and Jallins is GRANTED; Westcare's motion is GRANTED; and, Plaintiff's cross-motion against Westcare is DENIED.

I. Background

Plaintiff "was incarcerated at California Rehabilitation Center, Norco, from February 27, 2006 to February 27, 2007, on charges pertaining to possession of illegal substances." (Westcare's Statement of Undisputed Facts in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment ("Westcare SUF") ¶ 1.) "[Plaintiff] was released . . . on February 26, 2007, [and placed] on parole with the single condition that he attend and complete a 90-day ['12-step'] residential drug treatment program." (Id. ¶ 2; Statement of Undisputed Facts In Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Partial Mot. SUF") ¶ 1; Statement of Undisputed Facts in Support of Plaintiff's Cross Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Cross Mot. SUF") ¶ 12.) Defendant "Mitch Crofoot was [Plaintiff's] parole agent at the time Plaintiff [participated in the drug treatment program]." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 4.)

Westcare "contracts with the [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR")] as a regional Substance Abuse Services Coordination Agency ("SASCA") for Parole Region I in California." (Westcare SUF ¶ 11; Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 1.) As a SASCA, "Westcare creates a network of treatment facilities for parolees with drug-related convictions, and coordinates with the State to place parolees in these programs." (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 3.) "Westcare's standard form contract with residential providers prohibits the providers from requiring the 'SASCA participants to attend religious events or participate in religious activities. Any such participation is entirely optional for the SASCA participants and contractors may not impose a penalty for lack of participation.'" (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 6.) A residential treatment facility is required to abide by the above provision in order to contract with Westcare. (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 7; Smith Dep. 24:23-26:6.) "Empire Recovery Center ("Empire") is a non-profit corporation which contracts with Westcare to provide substance abuse treatment and re-entry services to parolees upon release from prison." (Westcare SUF ¶ 6.) "Empire is an independent contractor under the terms of the contract with Westcare." (Westcare SUF ¶ 7.)

"Prior to his release on parole in February 2007, [Plaintiff] told correctional authorities and Westcare representatives that he was an Atheist, and requested placement in a treatment facility that did not contain religious components to fulfill the condition of his parole." (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 13.) "A Westcare representative advised him that he should ask to be assigned to [Empire]." (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 13.) Plaintiff was assigned to Empire in Redding, California. (Partial SUF ¶ 2; Westcare SUF ¶ 4.) Empire utilizes a 12-step recovery program, developed by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, which includes references to God and a higher power. (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 14; Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 3.)

"While at Empire, [Plaintiff] notified Westcare representatives and told them that he objected to the religious 12-step program used by Empire, and asked to be transferred to a secular alternative." (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 15.) "[Plaintiff] also asked [Crofoot] whether he could fulfill his parole requirement through a secular recovery program." (Partial Mot. ¶ 7; Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 16.) "[Plaintiff] told Crofoot that he objected to participating in the Empire program because he was an atheist." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 6.) "Crofoot told [Plaintiff] that he needed to continue at Empire while Crofoot looked into the issue of whether secular programs were available, and told [Plaintiff] not to leave the Empire class in the meantime." (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 17.) "Crofoot called Westcare to ask whether a non 12-step program was available for [Plaintiff]." (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 18.) "Westcare informed Crofoot that there were no secular treatment programs in the Northern California area." (Westcare SUF ¶ 24.) "While waiting to hear back from Crofoot, [Plaintiff] contacted Westcare and again explained that he was an atheist and asked whether he could attend a secular program in lieu of Empire's religious 12-step program." (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 19.) "Westcare representative Dawn Hall told [Plaintiff] that the only other available program was a faith-based program called Cornerstone, and that if he 'didn't like Empire, he really wasn't going to like it at Cornerstone.'" (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 20.) "After making inquiries, Crofoot told [Plaintiff] that there were no programs that were 'non 12-step.'" (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 9.) "Crofoot told [Plaintiff] that he could file an Inmate/Parolee Appeal [known as a "602 Appeal"], but that in the meantime [Plaintiff] should continue to participate in the Empire Program or he would be returned to prison." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 10.) "[Plaintiff] presented Crofoot on April 3, 2007 with a 602 Appeal that set forth the basis for his objection to participation in the Empire program." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 11) Plaintiff's 602 Appeal states:

As an Atheist I object to forced participation in any spiritual/religious activities. I am currently required to attend 90 days on in-patient treatment at the Empire Recovery Center in Shasta County. I have been told by my parole officer that I must complete the 90 days of spiritual treatment because there are no available secular recovery alternatives. [¶] Since the CDC cannot provide me with a secular alternative to 12-step based treatment I would like the in-patient treatment stipulation removed from my parole conditions so that I may return home ASAP.

(Heller Decl. Partial Mot. Ex. B; Heller Decl. Cross Mot. Ex. L.) Plaintiff also attached to his 602 Appeal a document further explaining his beliefs as an Atheist and a summary of judicial opinions in support of his request. (Id.)

"According to Crofoot, representatives of Empire told Crofoot on April 6, 2007, that [Plaintiff] 'has been disruptive, though in a congenial way, to the staff as well as other students.'" (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 12; Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 30.) "Crofoot's understanding from the Empire representatives was that [Plaintiff] 'was not being loud; he wasn't throwing things around; he wasn't stomping around; he wasn't being boisterous and that sort of thing.'" (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 13; Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 31.) "He was 'sort of passive aggressive.'" (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 13; Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 31.) "Crofoot spoke with his Unit Supervisor, Defendant Brenda Wilding, and concluded that the right thing to do was to refer Plaintiff to [the Board of Parole Hearings (the "BPH")] on a parole violation for failing to participate in the BPH-ordered program." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 15.) "Wilding understood that [Plaintiff] objected to participating in the Empire [] program because he was an atheist." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 20.) "Wilding understood that Crofoot told [Plaintiff] that [Plaintiff] had to either participate in the [program] or be returned to prison." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 21.) "Crofoot and Wilding decided together that [Plaintiff] needed to be returned to prison so that he could argue his case before the BPH." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 16.) "Crofoot arrested [Plaintiff] on April 6, 2007 and booked him into the Shasta County Jail." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 17.) "After arresting [Plaintiff], Crofoot called the [California Rehabilitation Center (the "CRC")], explained the circumstances pertaining to [Plaintiff], explained that he was requesting that [Plaintiff] be returned to custody, and obtained an oral order of return authorized by Deputy Commissioner Richard Jallins." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 18.) "After the oral order of return was authorized from Deputy Commissioner Jallins, [Plaintiff] was sent back to prison." (Partial Mot. SUF ¶ 19.) The "oral order questionnaire/authorization" signed by Crofoot and approved by Jallins, states in the Comments section: "Refusing to participate in residential program. Causing problems with staff that is effecting [sic] the other residents." (Heller Decl. Partial Mot. Ex. C; Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 34.)

"[Plaintiff] was incarcerated for more than 100 days, the bulk of which he spent in state prison in Norco, California." (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 35.) "On June 27, 2007, while Plaintiff was still in prison, he received a response from CDCR to his 602 appeal, denying the appeal." (Cross Mot. SUF ¶ 36.) The response to Plaintiff's 602 Appeal states:

It would behoove you to take advantage of the tools that are offered to you to help you with your addiction, behavior, and adjustment to society. Per your Agent of Record, Mr. Crofoot, he has made attempts to locate treatment facilities to accommodate your preference, per Mr. Crofoot, Empire Recovery was the best suited for you. Your negative behavior toward staff caused you to be discharged from that program leaving your Agent of Record no other choice but to return you to CRC for further treatment. Therefore, your request is denied.

(Heller Decl. Partial Mot. Ex. I.) The response is signed by William Crisologo, Associate Chief Deputy Commissioner, ...


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