The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge
This cause is before the court for consideration of the plaintiff and defendant's motions for summary judgment. [d/e 21, 26, 33].
The plaintiff filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against Defendant Reverend Eldon Kennell claiming his constitutional rights were violated at the Pontiac Correctional Center. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that Defendant Kennell violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights when he repeatedly refused to allow the plaintiff to change his religious designation to Islam.
The court notes that although the plaintiff has filed a document entitled motion for summary judgment, he has not complied with the local or federal rules for filing a dispositive motion. Fed.R.Civ. P. 56, ILCD Rule 7.1-2(D) Instead, the six page document is actually a response to the defendant's motion for summary judgment. [d/e 26]. In addition, the plaintiff has recently filed a "Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment." [d/e 33] This document was filed nearly a year after the dispositive motion deadline and also does not follow the relevant rules. Therefore, the court will deny both motions [d/e 26, 33], but will consider these documents as further responses to the defendant's motion for summary judgment.
Defendant Eldon Kennell says he is employed as a Chaplain at the Pontiac Correctional Center. His duties include handling "requests pertaining to the religious and spiritual needs" of the inmates. (Def. Mot, Kennell Aff, p. 1). Kennell says his actions must be in compliance with Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Rules.
Department Rule 425.30 allows inmates to change their religious affiliation by submitting a written request to the Chaplain. The rule states that the request may be refused if the Chaplain determines it was made for reasons other than religious belief. "That determination may be based, among other matters, upon the frequency of changes or a pattern of changing religious affiliation prior to a particular faith group's scheduled holiday or celebration." (Def. Mot, Kennell Aff, p. 2).
Department Rule 425.70 also states that to receive a dietary modification for a specific religious holiday, an offender must submit a written request to the Chaplain at least 45 days before that holiday. The request must also contain "verification that the offender is a member of the faith group requiring the modification and the specific requirements of the modification." (Def. Mot, Kennell Aff, p. 2).
Kennell says on February 23, 2007, he received a letter from the plaintiff stating that he had ordered a gold chain with an Islamic medallion, but the personal property department would not allow him to have it. (Def. Mot, Kennell Aff, p. 2) The next day, the plaintiff wrote Kennell a second letter asking him to confirm with property personnel that the medallion he ordered was a religious medallion.
Kennell says he responded with a memorandum to the plaintiff and confirmed that the medallion was an Islamic medallion. However, Kennell stated that while the plaintiff had declared his religious designation to be Al-Islam (Muslim) in 1999, he had successfully changed his religious designation to Christian in 2002. (Def. Mot, Feb. 24, 2007 Memo). Kennell said the plaintiff could not keep a medallion that was not commensurate with his claimed religious designation. (Def. Mot, Kennell Aff, p. 2) Furthermore, Kennell told the plaintiff that he would not change the plaintiff's religious designation just so he could receive the medallion. (Def. Mot, Feb. 24, 2007 Memo).
Kennell says about one month later, he received a request from he plaintiff to change his religious affiliation back to Al-Islam. Kennell also received a letter from the plaintiff asking that his religious affiliation be changed to "other" so he did not have to "keep going through the changes of one religion to the next. The word 'other' should cover all the above. Am I right?" (Def. Mot, March 29, 2007 ltr).
Once again, Kennell responded with a memorandum. Kennell stated that the plaintiff's religious designation made little difference while he was housed in segregation.
I am reluctant to grant a change of religion because there is so much indecision among offenders. If you chose to remain here after your release from Seg, we can consider changing your religious designation. In the mean time you can be what ever you chose to be without ...