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Maddox v. Love

November 9, 2007

MANNIE MADDOX, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TIMOTHY LOVE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Danville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq.*fn1 Plaintiff's pro se complaint is divided into two enumerated counts. After reviewing the complaint, however, the Court finds it appropriate to rearrange Plaintiff's claims into four counts, as stated below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Against Defendants Love, Garnett, and Ryker for providing reasonable access to religious materials for members of the Christian faith, but not to adherents of the American Hebrew Israelite faith.

COUNT 2: Against Defendants Love, Garnett, and Ryker for failing to compensate the outside leader of the American Hebrew Israelite faith in the same manner as leaders of other religious groups.

COUNT 3: Against Defendants Love, Garnett, and Ryker for allocating a disproportionately small portion of the available religious budget at Lawrence Correctional Center to the American Hebrew Israelite faith. COUNT 4: Against Defendants Love, Garnett, and Ryker for not permitting members of the American Hebrew Israelite faith to participate in group worship services even under the auspices of Defendant Love, the prison chaplain.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

Plaintiff states that he is a member of the religious group called African Hebrew Israelites ("AHI"). Plaintiff contends that on September 4, 2004, Defendants Love and Garnett cancelled group worship services for AHI. Through the prison grievance process, plaintiff learned that the group worship services for AHI were canceled due to budget cuts. Specifically, the response to Plaintiff's grievance stated that the outside religious leaders for AHI were paid for their services and, apparently, funds were no longer available to pay them. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Love, Garnett, and Ryker have aggravated the situation by denying AHI inmates the opportunity to congregate together for group worship under the auspices of Defendant Lacks, the prison chaplain.

In addition to his claims concerning the lack of group worship, Plaintiff also contends (1) that the Defendants discriminate against AHI in favor of Christian sects by "providing reasonable access to religious materials" to members of Christian sects, but not to AHI members; (2) that the Defendants failed to compensate outside religious leaders of AHI in the same manner as other religious groups; and (3) that the ...


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