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Guillen v. Palmer

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 6, 2019

MARCOS CASEY GUILLEN, III, Plaintiff,
v.
M. PALMER, Defendant.

         FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, RECOMMENDING THAT THIS ACTION PROCEED ON PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANT PALMER FOR VIOLATION OF PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION AND FOR VIOLATION OF THE RELIGIOUS LAND USE AND INSTITUTIONALIZED PERSONS ACT OF 2000, AND THAT ALL OTHER CLAIMS BE DISMISSED OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE WITHIN TWENTY-ONE (21) DAYS ORDER DIRECTING CLERK TO ASSIGN DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         Marcos Casey Guillen, III (“Plaintiff”), is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant removed this case to this Court on July 10, 2019. (ECF No. 1).

         The Court screened Plaintiff's complaint on October 22, 2019, and gave Plaintiff options as to how to move forward. (ECF No. 5). On October 30, 2019, Plaintiff filed his response to the Court's screening order. (ECF No. 6). Plaintiff stated that he “does not want to file an amended complaint but chooses to stand on this complaint, in which case the Court will issue findings and recommendations to a district judge consistent with [the screening] order.” (Id. at 1).[1]

         Accordingly, the Court issues these findings and recommendations to a district judge consistent with the screening order.

         For the reasons described below, the Court finds that Plaintiff has stated cognizable claims against Defendant Palmer for violation of Plaintiff's First Amendment right to free exercise of religion and for violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. The Court finds that Plaintiff fails to state any other claims.

         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 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).

         A complaint is required to 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 to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 679. While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Additionally, a plaintiff's legal conclusions are not accepted as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal).

         III. SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges that a number of religious items were confiscated without justification.

         Plaintiff ordered a number of spiritual Native American/Indigenous items, which arrived on approximately February 14, 2018. Plaintiff later received a “Notification of Disapproval mail/Package/Publications, ” dated February 27, 2018, from Defendant Operations Captain M. Palmer. The form lists the spiritual Native American/Indigenous items that are unlawfully restricted by Defendant Palmer.

         Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Palmer had Plaintiff's package for more than thirty days without notifying the State Religious Review Committee, which violates California Code of Regulation Title 15, section 3213(e).

         Defendant Palmer used the Religious Personal Property Matrix (“RPPM”), which is very strict and used for the general inmates that use religious or non-religious items.

         Inmates that practice the Native American or Indigenous Religion and/or way of life and participate in the Red Tail Hawk Spiritual Circle are allowed different religious items from those that do not.

         Plaintiff has asked for a penological reason why each item was not allowed. For example, Plaintiff does not understand why Bee Wax was confiscated. He questions whether it can be used as a weapon. Bee Wax is placed on thread for Native Bead work, so ...


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