United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT RE: DKT. NO. 20
VIRGINIA K. DEMARCHI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action, pro se plaintiff Scott Forrest Collins, a prisoner
confined at San Quentin State Prison (“SQSP”),
challenges the prison’s policy for conducting unclothed
body searches of condemned inmates. Defendant Ron Davis is
the SQSP warden. Both parties have consented to magistrate
judge jurisdiction. Dkt. Nos. 3, 15.
Collins asserts the following claims against Mr. Davis in his
official and individual capacities: (1) violation of his
First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, (2)
violation of his right to religious exercise under the
Religious Land Use and Institutional Person Act
(“RLUIPA”), (3) violation of his Fourth Amendment
right against unreasonable searches, (4) violation of his
Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment,
and (5) violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal
protection and due process. Dkt. No. 1 ¶¶ 17-26;
Dkt. No. 8 at 2. Mr. Collins seeks an injunction,
compensatory damages, and punitive damages. Dkt. No. 1
Davis moves for summary judgment on the merits as to all
asserted claims. In addition, Mr. Davis moves for summary
judgment on the basis that the Eleventh Amendment bars Mr.
Collins’s claims for damages against Mr. Davis in his
official capacity, that Mr. Collins’s RLUIPA claim for
damages against Mr. Davis in his individual capacity seeks a
remedy that is not available under that statute, and that Mr.
Collins has not made the requisite showing for injunctive
relief under RLUIPA. Finally, Mr. Davis contends that he is
entitled to qualified immunity as to Mr. Collins’s
constitutional claims and that Mr. Collins may not recover
punitive damages. Dkt. No. 20. Mr. Collins opposes summary
judgment as to all matters. Dkt. No. 21.
reasons discussed below, the Court grants Mr. Davis’s
summary judgment motion.
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted:
Quentin State Prison
a California state prison that houses convicted prisoners,
including those who have been condemned to death. See Dkt.
No. 20-2 ¶ 4; Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 10. Condemned inmates
are housed in four different units: East Block, Donner
Section, the Adjustment Center, and North Segregation. Dkt.
No. 20-2 ¶ 4; Dkt. No. 22 ¶¶ 10, 12. Most
condemned inmates are held in the East Block. Dkt. No. 20-2
at ¶ 4. Donner Section serves as overflow for the East
Block. Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 10. The most violent condemned
prisoners are held in the Adjustment Center. Id.
¶ 12; Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶ 4. North Segregation houses
condemned prisoners who have demonstrated particularly good
behavior and who do not have enemies among the other
prisoners (referred to as “enemy concerns”). Dkt.
No. 20-2 ¶ 4.
Segregation is a more desirable housing unit for condemned
prisoners because those housed there have open-tier access
and more out-of-cell time. Id. ¶ 5. Generally, to
be eligible for placement in North Segregation, inmates must
be discipline-free for at least five consecutive years and
cannot have any enemy concerns. Id. Housing capacity in
North Segregation is limited, and vacancies typically occur
only when an inmate dies or seeks a transfer to another
condemned housing unit. Id. There is a waitlist for
inmates seeking to be housed in North Segregation.
Id.; see also Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 31.
classifies condemned prisoners by security level, which
determines the kind of housing and programs to which they can
be assigned. Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 13; see also Dkt. No. 20-2
¶ 10. SQSP also classifies prisoners by
“grade” according to security risk and
disciplinary issues. Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 9; Dkt. No. 25-6 at
4. Grade A inmates are considered general population inmates,
who do not present unusual security risks and have
demonstrated a discipline-free adjustment to incarceration.
Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶ 6; Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 11. Condemned
Grade B inmates are those with disciplinary concerns or
enhanced security risks. Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶ 6; Dkt. No. 22
¶ 12. As a general matter, Grade A prisoners have more
privileges and fewer restrictions than Grade B prisoners. See
Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶ 6. However, their privileges and
restrictions may also depend on their housing assignment. See
Id. ¶ 5.
Collins is currently housed in the East Block. Dkt. No. 20-2
at ¶¶ 7, 15; Dkt. No. 20-3 ¶ 6. Like all
condemned prisoners, Mr. Collins is classified as a security
level 4 inmate, which qualifies him for maximum security
custody. Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶ 10; Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 13.
Given this custody level, Mr. Collins must be under direct
and constant supervision. Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶ 10; see also
Dkt. No. 20-3 ¶ 10. Mr. Collins is also classified as a
Grade A inmate with respect to his security risks and
discipline concerns. Dkt. No. 20-2 at ¶¶ 7, 15;
Dkt. No. 20-3 ¶ 6.
addition to his security level and grade classification, Mr.
Collins’s Strategic Offender Management System
(“SOMS”) file is annotated with the following
labels: (1) “DEA, ” which means that he is
serving a death sentence; (2) “VIO, ” meaning he
has a history of violent behavior; and (3) “ARS,
” meaning he has a history of arson. Dkt. No. 20-2
¶ 8, Ex. A. The DEA and VIO labels were affixed to his
record on December 29, 2014, and the ARS label was affixed on
March 20, 1991. Id.
Collins’s SOMS record indicates that he has six
non-confidential enemies, all of whom are condemned prisoners
at SQSP. Dkt. No. 20-2 at ¶ 9, Ex. B. Mr. Collins must
be kept away from these prisoners at all times. Id.
¶ 9. In addition, according to Mr. Davis, Mr.
Collins’s SOMS record indicates that he has seven
confidential enemies from whom he also must be isolated at
all times. Id. Mr. Davis does not identify the seven
prisoners who are confidential enemies of Mr. Collins.
Collins disputes that he has any enemies at all, but he
provides specific evidence as to only one of them, Randy
Garcia. Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 30. Mr. Garcia is one of the six
prisoners identified as non-confidential enemies in Mr.
Collins’s SOMS file. Dkt. No. 20-2 at ¶ 9, Ex. B.
Mr. Garcia submitted a declaration in support of Mr.
Collins’s summary judgment opposition testifying that
he has known Mr. Collins for over 20 years, that they have
always been on good terms, and that the two of them have
never been enemies. Dkt. No. 23 ¶ 5, 9. According to Mr.
Garcia, over 15 years ago, he and other individuals listed as
Mr. Collins’s non-confidential enemies were erroneously
accused of assaulting Mr. Collins, and that following an
investigation, all charges were dropped. Id. ¶
4. Mr. Collins asserts that he has not received any serious
rules violations reports for violence or contraband for over
20 years. Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶ 13, Ex. C at 1. Prison records
indicate that he has been discipline-free since 2003. Dkt.
No. 22 ¶ 34.
January 3, 2018, Mr. Collins’s case came before the
Unit Classification Committee (“UCC”) for a
review and possible adjustment of his security level
assessment and his classification. Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶¶
10, 11. That review considered 42 review periods from
December 1996 (when Mr. Collins first arrived at SQSP) to
December 25, 2017. Id., Ex. C. at 1. The UCC noted
that Mr. Collins had a mandatory minimum placement score of
60 based on his “condemned” status and had
remained discipline-free since 2003. Id. However,
the UCC also noted Mr. Collins alleged gang associations
dating back to the 1990s. Id., Ex. C at 1–4.
The UCC considered a probation officer’s report dated
December 17, 1996 indicating that Mr. Collins is a
non-validated associate of the Mexican Mafia. Id.,
Ex. C at 1. The UCC also considered a CDCR-1030 Form dated
December 21, 1999, noting that Mr. Collins is likely to be
murdered by affiliates of the Mexican Mafia prison gang for
misrepresenting himself as the liaison and representative of
the Mexican Mafia in the Adjustment Center housing unit.
Id., Ex. C at 1, 4. The UCC also noted a CDCR-128-G
Form dated March 21, 2002, which states that Mr. Collins was
the victim of a stabbing assault on the yard in which he
sustained 28 puncture wounds. Id. Other information
in Mr. Collins’s inmate central file indicates that he
is also a non-validated member of the Barrio Watts street
gang,  as well as an association of the
Aryan Brotherhood. Id., Ex. C at 44. Based on its
review of his file, case factors, and input from committee
members, the UCC decided to retain Mr. Collins’s
current Grade A classification status. Id. ¶
11. The UCC also denied him East Block worker-status due to
safety concerns. Id. In November 2015, Mr. Collins
was referred for consideration for placement on the North
Segregation waitlist, as he had been discipline-free since
2003 and had no in-custody predatory behavior. Id.
¶ 14; see also Dkt. No. 25-10 at 1. However, given his
gang history and the risks to his own safety described above,
the UCC decided not to place him in North Segregation. Dkt.
No. 20-2 ¶ 14.
Collins denies that he has any recent or relevant gang
associations. Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 29 (“With respect to
gang association, I have tried to avoid gangs and what passes
for prison politics for nearly 20 years.”); see also
Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 31; Dkt. No. 25-10 at 1 (“I have no
enemy concerns here. All my 1030s stem from one individual
and my program has been messed up ever since.”). Mr.
Collins denies that he was stabbed in the prison yard in
2002. Id. Mr. Collins asserts that no security
concerns justify the denial of his request to be placed in
North Segregation or at least on its waiting list because he
has no enemies housed there. Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 31.
SQSP’s Operating Procedures Manual
Operational Procedure 608, also known as the Condemned Manual
(“the SQSP Manual”), sets forth criteria and
standards that govern the operation of the Specialized
Housing Division, which is responsible for the day-to-day
programming of all condemned male inmates housed at SQSP.
Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶¶ 15, 18, Ex. D at 1. The
Correctional Captain and Associate Warden assigned to the
Specialized Housing Division review the SQSP Manual annually,
and any changes are submitted for approval to Mr. Davis in
his role as the Warden. Id. ¶ 17, Ex. D at 1;
Dkt. No. 20-3 ¶ 8.
422 and 4115 of the SQSP Manual state the circumstances in
which prisoners must undergo unclothed body searches, or
strip searches, at SQSP. Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶ 16, Ex. D at
11, 22–24. The specific procedures for conducting an
unclothed body search in California state prisons is
described in the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation Operations Manual as follows:
The inmate subject to the search shall disrobe completely,
and staff shall inspect and search each item of clothing and
visually inspect the inmate’s body. The inmate shall
face the staff member who shall visually inspect the
inmate’s hair, ears, mouth, nose, body, armpits, hands,
scrotum, genitals, and legs. The inmate shall turn away from
staff upon instruction and staff shall then inspect the
inmate’s back, buttocks, thighs, toes, bottom of the
feet, and lastly, the anal area by having the inmate bend
over, spread the cheeks of their buttocks, and cough.
Unclothed body searches of inmates by staff of the opposite
biological sex shall only be conducted in emergency
Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 19; Dkt. No. 25-3 § 52050.16; see
also Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶¶ 24-25.
Grade A prisoners like Mr. Collins, Section 422 of the SQSP
Upon a Condemned Grade A inmate entering a condemned housing
unit, the Condemned Grade A inmate will be immediately placed
in a holding cell and given an unclothed body search, unless
the Condemned Grade A inmate is returned to the condemned
housing unit after being escorted under direct supervision
and control of custody staff during the entire time the
Condemned Grade A inmate is outside of the condemned housing
unit, i.e., escort to the Central Health Services Building
(CHSB) for a medical appointment. All inmates will be given
an unclothed body search prior to leaving their cell at any
time. If a Condemned Grade A inmate has been under
supervision and control of custody staff during the entire
escort, then the Condemned Grade A inmate will be returned to
his assigned cell without an unclothed body search.
Dkt. No. 20-2 ¶ 19, Ex. D at 11. Section 4115 of the
SQSP Manual details yard release procedures. Dkt. No. 20-2
¶ 20, Ex. D at 22. All prisoners housed in the East
Block, such as Mr. Collins, are required to undergo unclothed
body searches in their cells before they may exit the housing
unit and go to the yard. Id. Officers must also
search the prisoners’ clothing. Id. According
to the SQSP Manual, a prisoner will not undergo an unclothed
body search upon returning to his cell if he has been
“escorted under direct supervision and control of
custody staff during the entire time” he has been
outside his cell. Id.
to Mr. Davis, SQSP conducts frequent and routine unclothed
body searches of condemned prisoners housed in the East Block
because those prisoners housed there generally present an
increased risk to the safety and security of the institution,
staff, and other prisoners due to the nature of their crimes,
enemy concerns, and in-custody behavior. Id. ¶
22. Mr. Davis acknowledges that unclothed body searches are
always performed before East Block prisoners are permitted to
exit their cells for any purpose. Id. ¶¶
22, 24, 27. When searches are conducted in an inmate’s
cell, the officer stands in the four-foot wide cell opening
to obstruct the line of sight into the cell. Id.
¶ 24. When the searches are conducted in holding cells,
officers are trained to stand around the inmates as they
disrobe to preserve their privacy. Id. The unclothed
body searches do not involve any touching. Id. The
inmates’ clothes are also inspected with an X-ray
machine known as a Rapiscan. Id.
Collins states that since September 2016, he has been
subjected to approximately 1, 000 strip searches while housed
in the East Block. Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 25. He states that he
has missed religious services, showers, and exercise yard
time “so as not to have to undergo strip
searches.” Id. In March 2017, Mr. Collins
filed a grievance concerning the SQSP strip search policy.
Dkt. No. 22 ¶ 26; Dkt. No. 25-9 at 1; Dkt. No. 20-3
¶ 11. That grievance was denied at three levels of
review, including by Mr. Davis at the second level. Dkt. No.
22 ¶ 26; Dkt. No. 25-9 at 2, 5–6; Dkt. No. 20-3
¶ 11. Having exhausted his administrative remedies, Mr.
Collins filed a verified complaint commencing this action on
December 6, 2017. Dkt. No. 1.
may move for summary judgment on a “claim or
defense” or “part of . . . a claim or
defense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment is
appropriate when, after adequate discovery, there is no
genuine issue as to any material facts and the moving party
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id.; see
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322–23
(1986). Material facts are those that might affect the
outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a
material fact is “genuine” if there is sufficient
evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the
nonmoving party. Id.
seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
informing the Court of the basis for its motion, and of
identifying those portions of the pleadings and discovery
responses that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Where the moving
party will have the burden of proof at trial, it must
affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact
could find other than for the moving party. S. Calif.
Gas. Co. v. City of Santa Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 888 (9th
issue where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof
at trial, the moving party may discharge its burden of
production either (1) by “produc[ing] evidence negating
an essential element of the nonmoving party’s
case” or (2) after suitable discovery, by
“show[ing] that the nonmoving party does not have
enough evidence of an essential element of its claim or
defense to discharge its ultimate burden of persuasion at
trial.” Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v.
Fritz Cos., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1103 (9th Cir. 2000);
see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324–25.
the moving party meets its initial burden, the opposing party
must then set forth specific facts showing that there is some
genuine issue for trial in order to defeat the motion. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. “A party
opposing summary judgment may not simply question the
credibility of the movant to foreclose summary
judgment.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254. “Instead,
the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and by its
own evidence set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Far Out Prods., Inc. v.
Oskar,247 F.3d 986, 997 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations and
quotations omitted). The non-moving party must produce
“specific evidence, through affidavits or admissible
discovery material, to show that the dispute exists.”
Bhan v. NME Hosps., Inc.,929 F.2d 1404, 1409 (9th
Cir. 1991). Conclusory or ...