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Moro v. Winsor

March 10, 2010

JOHN MORO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ANGELA WINSOR, ET AL., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Proud, Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Before the Court is plaintiff John Moro's motion for new trial, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. (Doc. 154). Defendants Gregory Lambert, Roger E. Walker, Jr., Julie Wilkerson and Angela Winsor have filed a response.*fn1 (R. 155). Although plaintiff has filed a notice of appeal (Doc. 158), in accordance with Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4 (a)(4)(B)(I), the notice does not become effective until after the motion for new trial is decided. Therefore, this Court has not been divested of jurisdiction and may consider the motion.

Plaintiff was, at all relevant times, an inmate at Big Muddy River Correctional Center, and a practitioner of the Ordo Templi Orientis ("OTO") religion. He alleged that the defendants impermissibly interfered with the practice of his religion and treated his religion less favorably than other religions. Plaintiff proceeded to trial on claims under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). (Doc. 124).

At the close of plaintiff's case in chief, the Court granted a directed verdict relative to defendant Lambert. (Doc. 144). The jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants Winsor, Adams and Wilkerson, and against plaintiff on all claims. (Doc. 145, 146 and 149). Defendant Walker, who was in the case solely in his official capacity as Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, for purposes of securing injunctive relief under RLUIPA, was dismissed by the Court after no constitutional or RLUIPA violations were found. (Doc. 150). Final Judgment was entered accordingly. (Doc. 153).

Issues Presented

Plaintiff argues that a new trial should be granted for the following reasons:

1. Counsel was not appointed to represent plaintiff, which was prejudicial in that:

a. Plaintiff proceeded pro se, while the defendants were represented by two attorneys in a battle over conflicting testimony;

b. Plaintiff was unable to do the discovery necessary to identify "John Doe" defendants or to glean information necessary for trial from the defendants;

c. Plaintiff was unable to present witnesses or show the jury tarot cards; and

D. Subpoenas should have been issued to plaintiff without requiring witness fees to be tendered, as he had no other way of requesting their voluntary appearance at trial;

2. The jury instructions did not comport with Koger v. Bryan, 523 F.3d 789 (7th Cir. 2008), relative to the burden of proof for the RLUIPA claim; and

3. The Court should not have ruled out injunctive relief merely because no individual was found to have ...


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