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Upchurch v. Prewitt

August 29, 2006

ANTHONY UPCHURCH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GLEN PREWITT, SANDRA FUNK AND SUE REDSHAW, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

Order

This case is about the defendants' alleged refusal to allow the plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated in Western Illinois Correctional Center, to change his religious affiliation from Christian to African Hebrew Israelite.A motion for summary judgment by defendants Funk and Redshaw is before the court.

Summary Judgment Standard

A party moving for summary judgment must show, from the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, . . ." that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the "moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986);Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c). This burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If such a showing is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837. A nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must demonstrate that there is admissible evidence that will support its position. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994).

In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992). The question is " . . . whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence presented." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

Undisputed Facts

1. The events all occurred at Western Correctional Center, where the plaintiff is still incarcerated.

2. In October, 2003, the plaintiff met with defendant Prewitt, the Chaplain at Western, and asked to change the religion listed on his identification card from Christian to Hebrew Israelite. Prewitt denied the request. (10/27/03 grievance, Def. Ex. A-2, d/e 22).

3. On October 27, 2003, the plaintiff filed a grievance challenging Prewitt's decision, asking again to change his stated religion to Hebrew Israelite. Id.

4. The counselor's response to the grievance states:

Chaplain Prewitt states he spoke to you on 10/21/03. You stated to him that you are now a Christian, of the Apostolic faith. You also stated that if "House of Yahweh" services were offered, you would not attend. You stated you grew up in the "House of Yahweh" religion and did not realize there is no similarity between "House of Yahweh" & Hebrew religion. Id.

5. Defendant Redshaw, the grievance officer, repeated the counselor's response and recommended denial of the plaintiff's grievance, for the stated reason that "staff follow[ed] established institutional policy and procedures as it relates to inmate's religion." (Def. Ex. A-2).

6. On December 15, 2003, the Administrative Review Board denied the plaintiff's appeal, repeating the counselor's findings and stating:

Per Department Rule 425.30(e) committed persons shall be requested to designate their religious affiliation during the orientation process. Department Rule 425.30(h) stated that any committed person desiring to designate their religious affiliation after the orientation process or desiring to change their designated religious affiliation shall submit the written request to the facility chaplain. The facility chaplain may refuse to change the affiliation if it is determined that the change is being requested for other than religious reasons. The determination may be based, among other matters, on the ...


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