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Moses Clark, Cdcr #F-99760 v. Larry Small

May 23, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge



Moses Clark ("Plaintiff"), a former state prisoner incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison ("CAL"), is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, a Muslim, alleges the Warden of CAL, Larry Small, and a Correctional Captain R. Madden ("Defendants") violated his right to freely exercise his religion during Ramadan in 2008, while he was incarcerated at CAL. (Amend. Compl. at 6-7.)

On March 15, 2010, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment claims, as well as Plaintiff's claims for damages against Defendants for acts alleged to have been taken in their official capacities; however, because Plaintiff's free exercise claims survived Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, they were ordered to Answer. See March 15, 2010 Order [Doc. No. 27] at 9.

Defendants have since filed a Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56 [Doc. No. 49]. While Plaintiff was no longer incarcerated at the time, the Court nevertheless notified him of the requirements for opposing summary judgment pursuant to Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988) and Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc) [Doc. No. 50].*fn1 On December 7, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Opposition [Doc. No. 57], as well as a separate Statement of Disputed Facts [Doc. No. 59]. On December 13, 2010, Defendants filed a Reply to both Plaintiff's Opposition, as well as his Statement of Disputed Facts [Doc. Nos. 60, 61].

While this case was randomly referred to the Honorable Jan M. Adler pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) for disposition, the Court has determined that a Report and Recommendation regarding the disposition of the pending Motion is not necessary. See S.D. CAL. CIVLR 72.3(a). The Court has further found oral argument unnecessary pursuant to S.D. CAL. CIVLR 7.1.d., and for the reasons set forth below, GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c).


From February 7, 2008, through October 16, 2008, Plaintiff was incarcerated at CAL. (Amend. Compl. at 4; Defs.' Appx. [ECF No. 49-3] Ex. J at 45.) Plaintiff is Muslim, whose "religious practice[] ... is deeply rooted in Islamic doctrine," and is a "product of sincere and personal religious belief." (Amend. Compl. at 8.) Sometime in August 2008, Plaintiff requested to be housed with a fellow Muslim inmate at CAL, and this request was granted. (Defs.' Appx. Ex. M (hereafter "Pl.'s Dep." ) at 74-75.)

In 2008, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which lasts for 30 days, began on September 2, 2008. (Amend. Compl. at 6; Pl.'s Dep. at 53.) During that time, Defendant Madden was the Captain of Facility A, where Plaintiff was housed. (Defs.' Appx. Ex. B ["Madden Decl."] ¶ 1; Pl.'s Amend. Compl. at 5.) Defendant Smalls was CAL's Acting Warden. (Defs.' Appx. Ex. A ["Smalls' Decl."] ¶ 1; Pl.'s Amend. Compl. at 5.)

From the beginning of Ramadan on September 2, 2008 through September 16, 2008, Plaintiff was able to assemble in the chapel with other Muslim inmates at about 3 p.m. until just after sunset, where they could pray at least 3 of 5 daily prayers, study the Koran, fast and then break the fast together by sharing a meal prepared by fellow Muslim inmates after sunset. (Pl.'s Dep. at 49-52, 56.)

On September 15, 2008, however, separate factions of a Hispanic inmate group in Facility A were involved in what both Defendants Small and Madden describe as a "large scale disturbance." (Small Decl. ¶ 6; Madden Decl. ¶ 5; Defs.' Appx. Ex. C "Program Status Report" [PSR].). On the following day, September 16, 2008, Facility C "experienced a large scale riot" between approximately 66 African-American and white inmates. (Id.)*fn2 According to both Defendants, several inmates suffered and were treated for contusions, laceration, punctures and abrasions as a result, including 6 who required medical treatment outside the prison. (Id.) Eight-three inmates were placed in Administrative Segregation, and Defendant Small "approved the decision," in conjunction with CAL's Chief Deputy Warden and Associate Wardens to institute a "lockdown and modified program" on CAL Facilities A, B and C "in order to evaluate the circumstances surrounding these incidents." (Small Decl. ¶¶ 7, 9, 16; Defs.' Appx. Ex. C.)*fn3

As the result of a Facilities search, physical evidence was gathered and weapons and minor contraband was found. Facility A staff also conducted 762 interviews with general population inmates, but by September 23, 2008, staff was still "uncertain if racial tension between Black and white inmates [would] continue." (Small Decl. ¶ 17; Defs.' Appx. Exs. C & E.) Therefore, Defendant Small "decided that the modified program had to continue." (Small Decl. ¶ 17.) On or about September 24, 2008, Defendant Small held a Program Status Meeting, to discuss any changes to the lockdown and modified program. (Id. ¶ 21.) As Captain of Facility A, Defendant Madden attended and presented recommended changes. (Madden Decl. ¶ 20.)

Following that meeting, on September 25, 2008, Defendant Madden submitted an updated modified program schedule (PSR) for Facility A, which was approved by Warden Small. (Id. ¶ 21; Small Decl. ¶ 22.) This PSR eased some, but not all, restrictions on Facility A inmates. (Id. ¶ 22; see also Defs.' Appx. Ex. F.) For example, Inmates on Facility A were allowed to leave their housing buildings and were permitted canteen and package pick-up, but only under escort and in groups of 10 or less. Facility A inmates were further granted access to the law library and weekend visitation which did not require escort or groups of ten or less. However, religious services "were to be conducted in-cell only." (Id.; see also Madden Decl. ¶ 21.) These modified program restrictions continued until October 2, 2008, when Defendant Madden reviewed "interviews conducted by prison staff at Facility A," and determined that they "revealed no identifiable threats to the security of Calipatria." (Madden Decl. ¶ 33.) As a result, Madden submitted a PSR "Part C" -- Weekly Status / Closure report to Warden Small recommending a "return to normal program." (Id.; see also Defs.' Ex. G.) Both Warden Small and W.J. Sullivan, the Associate Director of the CDCR's General Population Levels III and IV, approved, modified program restrictions were discontinued, and Facility A returned to "normal program." (Madden Decl. ¶ 33; Small Decl. ¶ 34; Defs.' Ex. G.)

During the lockdown and modified restrictions which were imposed in the midst of Ramadan, from September 16, 2008 through October, 2, 2008, Plaintiff admits he was still able to offer his five daily prayers, (Pl.'s Dep. at 62), and during two or three of those prayers, able to pray along with his Muslim cellmate. (Id. at 74, 76, 82.) Plaintiff was also able to read the whole Koran throughout the course of Ramadan, (id. at 62, 76), continue his fast during the day, and break fast at sunset with his cellmate. (Id. at 74, 77-78, 81.) During the duration of the lockdown, Plaintiff and other practicing Muslims continued to be provided one hot meal and two sack lunches, which were prepared by fellow Muslim inmates and delivered to their cells. (Id. at 77-81.) An Imam or Muslim chaplain also "made the rounds" during the lockdown if an inmate requested "one-on-one in-house services." (Id.) Other religious leaders, including a Christian chaplain, offered the same in-cell consultation for Christian inmates. (Id. at 70-71.) Plaintiff "saw the chaplain in the housing unit," but he did not visit Plaintiff's cell. (Id. at 70.)

However, Plaintiff was no longer permitted to assemble in the chapel in the late afternoon until sunset, pray, study or break the day's fast with other Muslim inmates as a group, as he had during the first two weeks of Ramadan. (Pl.'s Dep. at 52-54, 91.) According to Plaintiff, the Koran "says ... it's for you to assemble at the mosque[,] ... make your prayers," and fast and during Ramadan. (Id. at 54-60.) Plaintiff claims Defendants' refusals to permit him to assemble with other Muslims during this time caused him "mental spiritual anguish, pain and suffering," (Amend Compl. at 9), "depressed" him, "messed [him] up spiritually," and "diminished the days of [his] spiritual experience." (Pl.'s Dep. at 91.)

Plaintiff seeks $1,500 in damages each against Warden Small and Captain Madden, for violating his right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1. (Amend. Compl. at 2, 9.)*fn4


A. FED.R.CIV.P. 56 Standard ...

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