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LARRY BRIGGS v. WARDEN JAMES HARTLEY

November 24, 2010

LARRY BRIGGS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARDEN JAMES HARTLEY, ET AL.,ECF. NO. 1. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

/

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMENDFIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

SCREENING ORDER

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Larry Briggs ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on June 24, 2009 (ECF. No. 1.), and consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction on July 2, 2009. Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for screening.

For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

II. SCREENING REQUIREMENTS

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking 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 prisoner 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).

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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

III. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at the Avenal State Prison in Avenal, California, brings this action alleging violation of his right to freely exercise his religion under the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 ("RLUIPA"), violation of his right to due process, and violation of his right to be free from unreasonable searches under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments. The events complained of occurred between April 29, 2009 and May 29, 2009. Plaintiff names the following individuals as Defendants: James Hartley, Warden of Avenal State Prison; T.E. Smith, Lieutenant at Avenal State Prison; CO. Reiffsnider Isu, Lieutenant; Doe #1, a member of the committee that saw Plaintiff on May 29, 2009; L.S. McEwen, Associate Warden; R. Nooh, Associate Warden; M. Escobar, CC III Recorder; A. Lloren, Facility Captain; A. Venetis-Colon, M.H. Clinician; and D. White, CC II Specialist.

Plaintiff alleges as follows: On April 29, 2009, Plaintiff was confronted by two CDCR officers in the prison yard, escorted to the gym, strip searched, and placed in wrist restraints. He was then taken to administrative segregation, strip searched again, given a copy of a 114-D order, and informed of the allegations being made against him. Plaintiff was held in administrative segregation from April 29 until May 29 when he was brought before the inmate disciplinary committee for a hearing. Plaintiff claims that he is being persecuted because of his religion, that his food items and packages have been damaged, and that his religious materials have been confiscated. He further claims that he fears the CDCR staff will retaliate against him for pursuing his constitutional rights. Plaintiff requests monetary compensation, a reprimand of all defendants involved, and a "change in CDCR's detention policies for Muslims and false allegations."

IV. ANALYSIS

The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. "Section 1983 . . . creates a cause of action for violations of the federal Constitution and laws." Sweaney v. Ada County, Idaho, 119 F.3d 1385, 1391 (9th Cir. 1997) (internal quotations omitted). "To the extent that the violation of a state law amounts to the deprivation of a state-created interest that reaches beyond that guaranteed by the federal Constitution, Section 1983 offers no redress." Id.

Each of Plainitff's claims will be addressed in turn below.

A. Religion-Related Claims

Plaintiff claims he is not being allowed to practice his religion. "Inmates . . . 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) (internal quotations and citations omitted). The protections of the Free Exercise Clause are triggered when prison officials substantially burden the practice of an inmate's religion by preventing him from engaging in conduct which he sincerely believes is consistent with his faith. Shakur v. Schriro, 514 F.3d 878, 884-85 (9th Cir. 2008); Freeman v. Arpaio, 125 F.3d 732, 737 (9th Cir. 1997), overruled in part by Shakur, 514 F.3d at 884-85.

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 government interest; and

(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling ...


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