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Armando Vincent Munoz v. James Tilton

May 15, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Edward J. Davila United States District Judge

For the Northern District of California


United States District Court

Plaintiff Armando Vincent Munoz ("Plaintiff" or "Munoz"), a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, has brought this civil action pursuant to 19 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Presently before the Court are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Amended 20 Complaint and cross-motions for summary judgment filed by both parties. For the reasons 21 explained herein, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. 22 23

I. Background

A. Plaintiff Munoz's Incarceration

Plaintiff Munoz has been incarcerated since May 18, 1996, and became an inmate in the

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") on November 22, 1996. Am. 27 28

Compl., Dkt. No. 25, ¶¶ 13, 15. At the time of the incident underlying this lawsuit, Munoz was 2 housed at Correctional Training Facility ("CTF"), but he was subsequently transferred and is 3 currently housed at California State Prison, Solano. Declaration of I. Palmer ISO Def.'s MSJ 4

Munoz asserts that, at the time of his incarceration, he began living as a Christian and has

6 received Christian materials from various sources, including Christian ministries. Am. Compl. 7

B at 19:16-18, 20:9-19. Munoz avers that as part of his religious beliefs he "must hear messages 9 from a variety of ministers to have the Word of God confirmed in his heart." Am. Compl. ¶ 19; see 10 also Snider Decl. Ex. B at 37:2-38:5. As a result, Munoz received cassette tapes and compact discs

Abundant Life Foursquare Church ("Abundant Life"). Am. Compl. ¶ 16. 13 14

16 allowable inmate property and enumerates in great detail the types and quantities of property an 17 inmate is allowed to possess based on the inmate's classification." Id. ¶ 20. The policy limits the 18 sources from which personal property can be obtained to "approved vendors" only. Id. Article 43 19 also "provides that inmates may acquire personal property using funds in their inmate trust account 20 only from departmentally approved vendors." Declaration of B. Hedrick ISO Def.'s MSJ 21

On March 7, 2005, Defendant Suzan Hubbard, the Deputy Director of Adult Institutions,

23 issued a memorandum requiring all CDCR institutions to implement Article 43. Am. Compl. ¶ 21. 24

7, 2006, "issued a memorandum to the inmate population at CTF indicating that Article 43 would 26 be fully implemented . . . [and] would be effective on Jan 1, 2006." Id. at ¶¶ 8, 22. On May 11, 27 28

("Palmer Decl."), Dkt. No. 45, ¶ 3. 5

¶¶ 14, 16; see also Declaration of Kevin T. Snider ISO Pl.'s MSJ ("Snider Decl."), Dkt. No. 42, Ex. 8

United States District Court For the Northern District of California

("CDs") containing sermons and worship music from a variety of Christian ministries, including 12

B. Article 43 and Operations Procedure 26

Article 43 of Chapter 5 of the CDCR Departmental Operations Manual "standardizes

("Hedrick Decl."), Dkt. No. 46, ¶ 3. 22

Subsequently, on December 12, 2005, Defendant Anthony P. Kane, the Warden at CTF until June 25 2006, a list of the approved vendors from which inmates could receive or purchase personal 2 property was issued. Id. at ¶ 23. CTF then implemented Operational Procedure 26 on June 7, 3 2006, "to bring CTF into compliance with Article 43." Id. at ¶ 24. Operations Procedure 26 4 implemented the policies and procedures of Article 43, governing inmate property receipt and 5 possession at CTF. Hedrick Decl. ¶ 4; see also Snider Decl. Ex. H. 6 7 process inmates' property purchases in manners designed to ensure that inmates do not receive 8 contraband material from outside sources." Hedrick Decl. ¶ 4; see Snider Decl. Ex. H. The 9 requirements are enforced to "enhance CTF's security environment for staff and inmates by 10 limiting the opportunities for weapons, drugs, communications, and other illicit materials from Pursuant to Operations Procedure 26, "approved vendors must assemble, sort, package, and entering the institution. The approved-vendor policy also promotes efficient operations because it 12 reduces the amount of staff time that is needed to sort, review, and screen materials being delivered 13 to inmates at the institution." Hedrick Decl. ¶ 4. Inmates in "appropriate privilege group[s] may 14 possess compact discs containing audio recordings" if they are commercially manufactured. 15

Hedrick Decl. ¶ 5; see Snider Decl. Ex. H. 16 17

Ex. B at 18:19-19:1, 50:14-18. However, the Property Room attendant "informed Munoz that he 21 could not receive religious materials from any Christian ministries because no Christian ministries 22 were on the approved-vendor list." Am. Compl. ¶ 25; see also Snider Decl. Ex. B at 18:19-19:1. 23

Am. Compl. ¶¶ 26-27; Snider Decl. Ex. B at 52:13-16. The Property Room attendant agreed to 25 hold the CDs pending Munoz's administrative appeal. Am. Compl. ¶ 26; see also Snider Decl. Ex. 26

B at 52:1-3, 13-16. 27 28

C. Alleged Enforcement of the Policy Against Munoz

On Sept 25, 2006, Munoz attempted to retrieve Christian CDs mailed to him from

Abundant Life at CTF's North Facility Property Room. Am. Compl. ¶ 25; see also Snider Decl. 20

After Munoz's CDs were withheld, he filed an administrative grievance seeking their release. See 24

Defendant Hedrick was a Correctional Business Manager II at CTF in 2006. Decl. Hedrick

¶ 2. In November 2006, Hedrick interviewed Munoz concerning his grievance. Id. at ¶ 6. Hedrick 3 informed Munoz that the materials could not be received pursuant to CTF's policies because they 4 did not come from an approved vendor. Id. Hedrick asserts that the CDs were not denied because 5 of their religious content, but rather "because they were not commercially manufactured compact 6 discs from an approved vendor, and thus posed potential security concerns." Id. at ¶ 8. 7

8 versions of the CDs if the ministry that sent the discs was willing to transcribe the content into 9 written format. Hedrick Decl. ¶ 7; see also Am. Compl. ¶ 29. Additionally, Hedrick informed 10

On or about November 2, 2006, Hedrick advised Munoz that he could receive transcribed

Munoz that CTF's Protestant Chaplain, Judge Lindsey, could possibly receive a donation of the CDs to the chapel, where Munoz could subsequently check the CDs out from the chapel library to 12 listen to them. Hedrick Decl. ¶ 7; see also Am. Compl. ¶ 29; Snider Decl. Ex. B at 55:12-15. On 13

Lindsey refused to receive the CDs because he was unable to receive materials for individual 15 inmates and accommodate all requests due to limited space and resources. Hedrick Decl. ¶ 7; see 16 also Am. Compl. ¶ 30; Snider Decl. Ex. B at 57:15-19. As a result, Munoz could not possess the 17 private, non-commercial CDs and Chaplain Lindsey was unable to accept them, so the CTF 18

Munoz subsequently resubmitted his administrative appeal for Second Level Review on

November 20, 2006. Am. Compl. ¶ 31. The Second Level Review denied Munoz's appeal, stating 21 that all tapes and CDs must be purchased through approved vendors as articulated in Operations 22

Procedure 26. Id. Munoz then resubmitted the appeal to the Director's Level of Review, which 23 denied the appeal on March 22, 2007. Id. at ¶ 32. 24 25 26 27 28

November 20, 2006, Munoz spoke with Chaplain Lindsey about this possibility, but Chaplain 14

Property Room did not release the Abundant Life CDs to Munoz. Hedrick Decl. ¶ 7. 19

Woodford, Director of the California Department of Corrections in the CDCR; Suzan Hubbard, 5

Warden of CTF; W.J. Hill, Associate Warden at CTF; B. Hedrick, Business Manager II, Contract 7

Compl., Dkt. No. 1. In the Complaint, Munoz asserted that the implementation of Article 43 and 9 denial of the Abundant Life CDs violated his right to free exercise of religion under the First 10

D. The Lawsuit

On July 26, 2007, Munoz filed a Complaint naming the following as Defendants: James

Tilton, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; Jeanne 4

Deputy Director of Adult Corrections in the CDCR; Anthony P. Kane, Warden ...

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