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Seamons v. Ramirez

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 30, 2018

GREGORY SEAMONS, Plaintiff,
v.
A. RAMIREZ, R. VALLEY, III, TERRI JO KIRTLEY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT DOCKET NO. 46) PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL DOCKET NO. 62)

          Ronald E. Bush Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Now pending before the Court are (1) Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 46), and (2) Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Docket No. 62). Having carefully considered the record, participated in oral argument, and otherwise being fully advised, the Court enters the following Memorandum Decision and Order:

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Gregory Seamons complains that, while in administrative segregation housing at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution (“ISMI”), [1] he was limited to possessing a total of five books, which restricts his ability to practice his religion and to check out psychological self-help books from the library that have been recommended by his mental health provider. See generally Initial Review Order, p. 1 (Docket No. 6). Plaintiff also claims that he is entitled to regular in-person clergy visits, but is unable to receive them while in administrative segregation. See id. The circumstances informing these allegations are reflected in an array of correspondence involving Plaintiff and ISMI staff members, included, in relevant part, below and in chronological order:[2]

         1. September 7, 2014: “Offender Concern Form” from Plaintiff to Defendant R. Valley III (“Valley”), referencing an attached handwritten letter “concerning book policy” and stating: “I sincerely hope you'll give my letter serious consideration.” 9/7/14 Offender Concern Form (Docket No. 3, Att. 3 at p. 3); see also Ex. A to Valley Aff. (Docket No. 46, Att. 10). The attached letter reads:

Dear D. W.Valley
I would first like to make it clear I'm not seeking a conflict, so please do not feel offended or attacked by what I have to say. My goal is to promote education, books and a review of that policy which limits books.
General Population = 17
Protective Custody = 10
Ad Seg = 5
Detention = 1
excludes law books
Concerns:
1. I have a memo dated 6-11-2014 signed by you and Warden Ramirez stating on 6-5-2014 a Committee placed me on long term Protective Custody but could not place in C-Block Protective Custody because I couldn't be housed with certain inmates. So I was being left in Ad-Seg until they could place me. So in many ways 1 feel I am still a protective custody inmate as I am not here for any punitive reasons whatsoever. I would like to be allowed to possess the 10 books allowed to protective custody as I do not own a T.V. and really all I want to do is study the Bible and History. I asked Chaplain Inman to talk to you as he knows I take several Correspondence Bible Courses.
2. I should be protective custody but can't be placed there for Institutional reasons not because of anything I've done wrong so I would like I.M.S.I to at least allow me the 10 books I should have in P.C.
Questions or Thoughts:
1. Six cubic feet of property is the same whether it's books or ramen noodles.
2. Protective Custody are either inmates who need protection or have been victimized. Why are they also being penalized and only allowed 10 books while the inmates in General Population who victimized the P.C. inmates allowed 17 books? It makes no sense.
3. Ad-Seg Inmates can have a $300.00 color T.V. with remote, Gangland T.V. channels, weekend videos, sexual content etc. etc. and a $150.00 MP4 music player with over $1000.00 worth of Gang rap songs and death metal racist music but I'm being restricted on educational and religious books, does that make sense?
This also costs the public tax payers millions of dollars in electric bills every year to watch sex and violence or listen to it on T.V.'s and MP4's. I think the public would rather see educational books and Bible Studies. I have thought of presenting these facts to outside sources but to tell you the truth I don't want conflict, I don't care if I stay in Ad-Seg until I leave 12-4-2017. I really only want to be approved for the 10 books I really should have so I can study.
4. I was somewhat shocked when I came here in 2012 it seems IMSI is not really trying to help inmates only warehouse them. I've been around here for 22 years 1992 it hasn't always been this way.
I hope you'll work with me and help me.

9/7/14 Letter (Docket No. 3, Att. 4, pp. 1-4); see also Ex. A to Valley Aff (Docket No. 46, Att. 10). Administrative Assistant Kim Bausch responded on September 9, 2014, stating in relevant part:

         Your correspondence to DW Valley is being returned to you with the following reminders:

. A description of the problem must be written within the appropriate area on ONE Offender Concern Form and there must not be any attachments included with the form.
. Offender Concern Forms must be handwritten and legible. An Offender Concern Form that is difficult to read or understand may be returned to the offender with instruction to make it legible or clearly explain the issue. If staff decides it is necessary to obtain more information, a staff member may interview the offender or request additional explanation.
. Vague issues/complaints, offender personal attacks on staff (e.g., the use of profanity or name calling), or harassment of staff will be cause for staff to not accept the Offender Concern Form.
. Offenders must address the Offender Concern Form to the appropriate staff member. For example, sending the form to a facility head or deputy warden when it should have gone to the property officer, will only delay the process.

         You may check with your unit sergeant if you are unsure of this process. Any correspondence that is not in accordance with S.O.P. 316.02.01.001 will be returned.

9/9/14 Memorandum (Docket No. 3, Att. 3, p. 18) (emphasis in original); see also Ex. A to Valley Aff (Docket No. 46, Att. 10).

         2. September 24, 2014: “Offender Concern Form” from Plaintiff to Valley, stating:

The Book policy (5 books for Ad-Seg) is outdated and illegal. This does not even allow me enough books to follow my religion. I have (one) Bible Concordance, (one) dictionary, (one) NKJV Student Bible, (one) KJV Bible and (one) NIV Bible. I use all 5 of these everyday for my numerous bible correspondence courses and religious purposes. This leaves no room for library, education, history, entertainment, or to receive any publications or opinions by mail which is a First Amendment legal right under freedom of speech and freedom of religion. I also am a medium security P.C. inmate.

9/24/14 Offender Concern Form (Docket No. 3, Att. 3, p. 7); see also Ex. B to Valley Aff. (Docket No. 46, Att. 11). Valley responded on September 26, 2014, stating: “The Ad-Seg property limits are set by SOP 320. IMSI is held to SOP 320. The limits are set.” Id.

         3. September 29, 2014: “Grievance/Appeal Form” from Plaintiff, stating:

The problem is: The number of books allowed to me in Ad-Seg under SOP 320 is (5) five this does not even allow enough books for me to exercise my religious rights under the First Amendment nor my right to freedom of speech (freedom to read) under the First Amendment. Also, Ad-Seg is not punitive, also I am medium custody, also I am supposed to be P.C.
I have tried to solve this problem informally by: Concern and letter to Chaplain and D. W.Valley rejected, concern to Sgt. Governor denied, concern to D. W.Valley denied. Grievance returned to be revised.
I suggest the following solution to the problem: The Book Policy is old and needs to be revised to allow enough books to study religion and history like I do as I do productive things like learn instead of watch Gangland T.V. which isn't regulated.

9/29/14 Grievance/Appeal Form (Docket No. 3, Att. 3, p. 4).

         4. October 7, 2014: “Offender Concern Form” from Plaintiff to Defendant Terri Jo Kirtley (“Kirtley”), stating:

I was referred to you by A. Pitzer concerning SOP 320 (Book limits). Our limit in Ad. Seg is 5 (five) books this includes Religious books. Five books does not even allow me enough books to exercise my First Amendment Right to exercise my Religion or my First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech also known as (Freedom to Read). I have (1) Bible Concordance, (1) Dictionary, (1) NKJV Student Bible, (1) KJV Bible, (1) NIV Bible. That allows no room for education, self help library, art, or mailed in religious commentary, daily devotions etc. Also I'm medium custody P.C. waiting on a bed.

10/7/14 Offender Concern Form (Docket No. 3, Att. 3, p. 6); see also Ex. A to Kirtley Aff. (Docket No. 46, Att. 29). Kirtley responded that same day, stating: “Per policy that is all you will be allowed in Ad Seg.” Id.

         5. October 14, 2014: “Grievance/Appeal Form” from Plaintiff, stating:

The problem is: SOP 320 is outdated and illegal. I am only allowed five total books. This does not allow me enough books to exercise my Freedom of Religion or Freedom to Read covered by Freedom of Speech in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
I have tried to solve this problem informally by: Numerous Concern forms to staff receipts included, two rejected Grievances included, letter to D. W.Valley rejected, also included.
I suggest the following solution for the problem: The law is clear on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech (freedom to read) also Ad-Seg is not a punitive classification. (1) Change the Policy, (2) Move me or (3) Prepare for Court. I will not let this go.

10/14/14 Grievance/Appeal Form (Docket No. 3, Att. 3, p. 1); see also id. (Docket No. 3, Att. 2, p. 17). On November 3, 2014, Kirtley provided the “Initial Response, ” stating:

5 Books is all that is allowed per policy in administrative segregation. The property limits change with custody levels for safety and security reasons. You are more than welcome to read as many books as you would like, however you may only have 5 in your property at one time. I would recommend that when you finish a book you donate it, send it home or just request books from the library. With 5 books authorized that is enough to cover your religious concerns and other reading material. Your request is denied.

11/3/14 Initial Response (Docket No. 3, Att. 2, p. 17); see also Ex. B to Kirtley Aff. (Docket No. 46, Att. 30). On November 4, 2014, Valley provided a “Reviewing Authority Response, ” stating:

There is no limit on the amount of materials you are allowed to read. SOP 320 only limits the amount of books you may have in your possession at any one time to 5. We will continue to follow SOP regarding this issue. Your request for SOP to be changed is denied. Your current placement in Administrative Segregation negates your ability to move and the placement is appropriate.

11/4/14 Reviewing Authority Response (Docket No. 3, Att. 2, p. 18); see also Ex. C to Valley Aff. (Docket No. 46, Att. 12). On November 7, 2014, Plaintiff submitted an “Offender Appeal, ” stating:

The book policy does not allow enough books in Ad-Seg to exercise Freedom of Religion or Freedom of Speech (Freedom to Read). D.W. Kirtley has no clue how many books it takes to exercise the Christian religion. Her response is ridiculous and presumptive etc. Ad-Seg is not a punitive classification. I am a medium custody, Protective custody inmate who is being punished without cause.
I have tried to solve this by: multiple letters, multiple concerns, multiple grievances.
I suggest the following: (1) Change the book policy (2) Move me (3) Prepare for Court, also (4) allow me a memo to study my religion and have the books I need. You people will not limit my religion and then allow unlimited Gangland T.V. and Gang songs.

11/7/14 Offender Appeal (Docket No. 3, Att. 2, p. 18). On November 24, Defendant A. Ramirez (“Ramirez”) provided an “Appellate Authority Response, ” stating: “We will continue to follow SOP in regards to property limits.”). 11/24/14 Appellate Authority Response (Docket No. 3, Att. 2, p. 18); see also Ex. C to Ramirez Aff. (Docket No. 46, Att. 20).

         6. October 30, 2014: “Offender Concern Form” from Plaintiff to Chaplain Wright (“Wright”), stating:

Griffin v. Coughlin, 743 F.Supp. 1006, 1025-29 (N.D.N.Y.) 1990 protective custody inmates were entitled to religious consultations in a private setting rather than at the bars of their cells. I have requested an in person clergy visit, I have not had one in over a month, I don't want you to visit A block, I want you to visit me. You can either give me clergy visits or go to court it's your choice. Todd Inman is gone and the gloves are off.

10/30/14 Offender Concern Form (Docket No. 3, Att. 3, p. 15). Wright responded on October 31, 2014, stating: “What is your faith preference, I will see if I can find ...


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