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Kindred v. Dep't of Mental Health

June 17, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge


Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff is civil detainee proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). This action proceeds on the complaint brought by Plaintiff against the following defendants: California Department of Mental Health; Stephen Mayberg; Cynthia Radavsky; Linda Clark; Barbra Devine; Pam Ahlin; Linda Fields. Plaintiff claims that defendants have infringed on his right to the free exercise of his religious beliefs.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought that seek relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the plaintiff has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Summary of Complaint

Plaintiff is currently housed at Coalinga State Hospital, where the events complained of occurred. Plaintiff alleges that he did not have access to a protestant chaplain, that a spiritual book was destroyed and that he was denied a prayer rug. Plaintiff specifically alleges that in September of 2008, the protestant chaplain informed Plaintiff (and other inmates) that he would be leaving to work at another facility. Plaintiff alleges that "since this time, with the exception of two times, there has been no chaplain to provide for the spiritual needs of the protestant community or to hold services." (Compl. ¶ IV.) Plaintiff contends that Defendant Clark, the Assistant Chief of Central Program Services is responsible for hiring another chaplain. She failed to do so, and is therefore responsible for the absence of a chaplain.

Plaintiff alleges that he has been denied permission to possess a prayer rug, though it is not considered contraband and other patients at the hospital possess them. Plaintiff alleges that "this action was denied by Defendant Barbra DeVine, who was the Program Director for Program One, but has since moved to another program. It was fully supported by Pam Ahlin, Executive Director.

(Attach. 1 to Compl.)

Regarding Plaintiff's allegation that his spiritual book was damaged, Plaintiff alleges that "this was done by defendant Linda Fields, level of care staff and fully supported by her supervisors, who as of date have not taken any action to replace or compensate plaintiff for the cost of the book." (Attach. 1 to Compl.)

B. First Amendment

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ." U.S. Const., amend. I. "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 (1987) (citing Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 822 (1974); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972)). 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. (quoting Price v. Johnson, 334 U.S. 266, 285 (1948)). "In order to establish a free exercise violation, [a prisoner] must show the defendants burdened the ...

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