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Juan Sousa v. C. Wegman

August 20, 2012

JUAN SOUSA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
C. WEGMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 10) AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS SECOND SCREENING ORDER

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Juan Sousa is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed October 21, 2011 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) On June 28, 2012, the Court dismissed the Complaint for failure to state a claim, with leave to filed an amended pleading. (Order Dismiss. Compl., ECF No. 9.) On July 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (First Am. Compl., ECF No. 10), which is now before the Court for screening.

II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

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, malicious," or 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).

Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the 'deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990), quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393--94 (1989).

III. SUMMARY OF FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Plaintiff alleges he is a practitioner of a Mexican Indian (Aztec/Mayan/Toltec) religion. (First Am. Compl. at 4.) From late 2009 through September 2011 Defendant staff at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP") allowed Plaintiff access to the yard chapel to conduct Mexican Indian religious services and to the Native American religious program services.

(Id. at 3-4.)

In July 2011, Defendants Wegman (KVSP Community Resource Manager) and Ron Six Bears Alec (KVSP Native American Spiritual Advisor) completed a review of Plaintiff's proposed Mexican Indian religious program pursuant to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) religious accommodation policy,*fn1 and determined the Mexican Indian program lacked a connection to the Native American Program sufficient to allow continued use of the Native American program. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff was not thereafter allowed to access the Native American religious program. (Id.)

In September 2011, the KVSP Religious Review Committee ("RRC") completed its review of Plaintiff's proposed religious program for the Mexican Indian group and determined the group is not a religious group engaged in religious practice. (Id. at 5, 16.) Defendant Wegman thereafter advised Plaintiff his religious program lacked the religious structure and doctrine necessary to qualify for a religious service accommodation (Id. at 5), and denied him access to the yard chapel to hold Mexican Indian religious services. (Id. at 6.)

Plaintiff claims Defendants have violated his freedom of religion, due process, and equal protection rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id. at 6.)

He names as Defendants C. Wegman, KVSP Community Resource Manager, and Ron Six Bears Alec, the KVSP Native American Spiritual Advisor. (Id. at 3.)

He seeks declaratory relief and monetary compensation. (Id. at 3.)

IV. ANALYSIS

A. Pleading Requirements Generally

To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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.'" Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 667-68.

B. Free Exercise

Plaintiff alleges Defendants have prevented him from exercising his ...


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