United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER (DKTS 22; 29;
W. Dale U.S. Magistrate Judge
before the Court are three motions: Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 22), and Plaintiff's motions
to strike (Dkt. 29; Dkt. 31.) The motions are ripe for the
Court's consideration. All parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. 16.) In the interest of
avoiding delay, and because the Court conclusively finds the
decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral
argument, the motions will be decided on the record and
without oral argument. Dist. Idaho L. Rule 7.1(d). As
discussed more fully below, the Court will deny
Defendants' motion for summary judgment and will deny
Plaintiff's motions to strike.
James Hogan is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho
Department of Correction (IDOC), currently incarcerated at
the Idaho State Correctional Institution (ISCI). Hogan
alleges his religious beliefs, as a practicing Muslim,
require him to wear a full-length beard and a kufi at all
times. (Dkt. 3 at 5.) A kufi is a knit skullcap. Id.
adopted a standard operating procedure (SPO) “to
provide guidance and direction for recognized religious
activities, and provide procedures for reviewing inmate
requests for accommodations of religious activities not
covered” by the SOP. Religious Activities Standard
Operating Procedure, 403.02.01.001 et seq., Version
8 (May 1, 1996) (Religious Activities SOP). The Religious
Activities SOP permits an inmate to keep a beard of up to
one-inch if grown for religious purposes. SOP 403.02.02.001.
IDOC has adopted also an SOP governing religious property.
Religious Property Standard Operating Procedure,
320.02.01.001, et seq., Version 8 (Jan. 9, 2010)
(Religious Property SOP). The Religious Property SOP permits
an inmate to wear a head covering, such as a kufi, during
religious ceremonies and while in his or her cell.
dispute in this case arose when Hogan requested permissions
exceeding those set forth in the Religious Activities and
Religious Property SOPs. Hogan asked to grow a fist-length
beard of four inches, and permission to wear his kufi
throughout the facility, at all times. IDOC staff denied
these requests as inconsistent with the SOPs.
September 15, 2016, Hogan filed a pro se prisoner
complaint against Defendants alleging a violation of his
rights to exercise religious beliefs, as protected by the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et
Complaint, Hogan seeks declaratory relief that Defendants
violated RLUIPA by denying his requests, and injunctive
relief for himself and other similarly-situated prisoners
permitting them to grow and keep a fist-length beard of
four-inches, and permitting such inmates to wear a kufi
throughout prison facilities at all times. Hogan also sought
reasonable costs, attorney fees, and monetary damages.
December 9, 2016, the Court issued its Initial Review Order,
finding Hogan stated plausible RLUIPA claims, but that he
could not continue to pursue his claim for monetary damages
because money damages not recoverable in RLUIPA actions.
(Dkt. 8.) On November 13, 2017, Defendants filed the instant
motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 22.) On December 4, 2017,
Hogan filed his response. (Dkt. 25.) Defendants filed a reply
on December 22, 2017. (Dkt. 27.) Hogan filed a sur-reply on
January 8, 2018, (Dkt. 28) and an additional sur-reply on
January 17, 2018. (Dkt. 30.)
filed the instant motions to strike on January 8, 2018, and
January 17, 2018, respectively. (Dkt. 29; Dkt. 31.) The Court
notes, however, that Hogan's motions, although styled as
motions “to strike” are not motions to strike in
substance. Instead, the motions are additional sur-replies in
opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. In
fact, the two motions are exact copies of one another, with
the exception that the first motion (Dkt 29), is missing page
7. Plaintiff's first-filed sur-reply (Dkt. 28), is also
an exact copy missing a page that should have appeared at
page 7. However, Plaintiff's second-filed sur-reply,
(Dkt. 30) includes the missing page 7. Therefore, the Court
will consider the contents of Plaintiff's second-filed
sur-reply (Dkt. 30) only and will deny the two motions to
strike as moot.
1.Motion for Summary Judgment
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 directs a Court to “grant
summary judgment if the movant shows there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). One
of the principal purposes of summary judgment “is to
isolate and dispose of factually unsupported
claims….” Celotex Corp v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment is the
“principal tool by which factually insufficient
claims or defenses [can] be isolated and prevented from going
to trial with the attendant unwarranted consumption of public
and private resources.” Id. at 327.
“[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment…”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986). Rather, if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact, the motion is proper. Material facts are
facts “that might affect the outcome of the
suit.” Anderson at 247-48.
moving party initially bears the burden of proving the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” In re
Oracle Corp. Secs. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir.
2010) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323).
“Where the moving party meets that burden, the burden
then shifts to the non-moving party to designate specific
facts demonstrating the existence of genuine issues for
trial.” Id. The non-moving party must go
beyond the pleadings and show through affidavits,
interrogatories, depositions, or admissions on file that a
genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477
U.S. at 324. “If a party fails to properly support an
assertion of fact or fails to properly address another
party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the
court may … consider the fact undisputed for the
purposes of the motion.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2).
party bearing the burden of proof at trial “must
establish beyond controversy every essential element of its
... claim.” S. Cal. Gas Co. v. City of Santa
Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 2003). A party who does
not have the burden “may rely on a showing that a party
who does have the trial burden cannot produce admissible
evidence to carry its burden as to the fact.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B) (advisory committee's note.) As
a general rule, the “party opposing summary judgment
must direct attention to specific triable facts”
supportive of the claims that have been made. S. Cal. Gas
Co., 336 F.3d at 889. [T]here must be evidence on which the
jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
applies to entities receiving federal funding or financial
assistance, including prisons like ISCI. See Sossamon v.
Texas, 131 S.Ct. 1651, 1655 (2011.) The statute provides
prison inmates with protection from substantial burdens on
No government shall impose a substantial burden on the
religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an
institution, … even if the burden results from a rule
of general applicability, unless the government establishes
that imposition of the burden on the person -
(1) is in the furtherance of a compelling governmental
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that
compelling governmental interest.
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a).
RLUIPA claim is analyzed under a burden shifting framework.
The inmate bears the burden initially to show that the
governmental action constitutes a substantial burden on the
exercise of the inmate's sincerely held religious
beliefs. Warsoldier v. Woodfort, 418 F.3d 989, 994
(9th Cir. 2005). A substantial burden is one that imposes
“a significantly great restriction or onus upon such
exercise.” San Jose Christian College v. City of
Morgan Hill, 360 F.3d 1024, 1034 (9th Cir. 2004). If the
plaintiff satisfies this burden, the government must
“show that its action or policy (1) is in furtherance
of a compelling governmental interest and (2) is the least
restrictive means of furthering that interest.”
Holt, 135 S.Ct. at 783.
IDOC Defendants seek summary judgment on two grounds. First,
Defendants contend Hogan cannot demonstrate that IDOC
policies substantially burdened his religious practice based
on the facts in the record. Defendants assert further that,
even if the Court finds there are sufficient facts to support
Hogan's RLUIPA claims, undisputed evidence in the record
demonstrates the IDOC policies further compelling
governmental interests by the least restrictive means.
Second, Defendants contend Hogan failed to allege evidence of
affirmative acts sufficient to establish RLUIPA claims