United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
JAMES L. PACK, Plaintiff,
ROBERT C. MUELLER, JOHN R. BALDWIN, CHRISTOPHER BOEHLER, STEPHEN KEIM, STEPHANIE WAGGONER, JARED R. FARTHING, MARK A BURTON, MCQUARRIE, MEIER, R. VOSS, HOLTON, KINK, LARRY GEBKE, MONIKA CHRISTIANSON, GALE HEIMGARDTNER, BART TOENNIES, ROBERT T. WEGMAN, SUSAN WALKER, JOHN AND JANE DOES, SONDRA MILLNER, DILLE, and RUPERT Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, U.S. CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE
James L. Pack, an inmate in Centralia Correctional Center,
brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional
rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff requests
injunctive relief and monetary damages. 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
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). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable
person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209
F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of
entitlement to relief must cross “the line between
possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At
this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
careful review of the Amended 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.
originally brought suit on August 21, 2017. (Doc. 1). Prior
to screening, Plaintiff sought leave to file an Amended
Complaint on September 8, 2017. (Doc. 8). The Court granted
leave once as a matter of course on October 3, 2017, (Doc.
10), and the Amended Complaint was filed on October 4, 2017.
became a Wiccan in the fall of 2014. (Doc. 11, p.
On December 12, 2014, he ordered a book, Witches'
Craft: A Multidenominational Wiccan Bible. Id.
Before he could receive Witches' Craft, Officer
Voss told him that it had to be sent to the Publication
Review Board. Id. The Publication Review Board
determined that the book contained 6 pages of objectionable
material depicting bondage, and that it was on a state-wide
banned list. Id. Plaintiff offered to cut out the 6
pages, but Larry Gebke and Monika Christianson told him he
had to send Witches' Craft out or have it
destroyed. (Doc. 11, pp. 15-16).
3, 2016, Voss called Plaintiff to the personal property
department to pick up a Celtic cross with a small pentagram,
which had been approved by Chaplain Heimgardtner. (Doc. 11,
p. 16). Plaintiff filed a motion to join a related action in
this court, 14-cv-661-SMY-RJD, on October 16, 2016.
Id. On October 25, Voss confiscated the cross on the
orders of McQuarrie. Id. Voss specifically told
Plaintiff that he was following McQuarrie's orders and
did not know why the cross was being confiscated.
Id. Plaintiff's counselor, Susan Walker, denied
his grievance on this issue. (Doc 11, p. 17). Bart Toennies
and Warden Robert Mueller also denied the grievance in
January 2017. Id.
Farthing, who was assigned to Plaintiff's housing unit as
a “Control Officer, ” shook down Plaintiff's
cell on January 7, 2017. Id. Plaintiff alleges that
shaking down cells was Officer Meier's duty, not
Farthing's. (Doc. 11, p. 17, 19). The shakedown focused
on Plaintiff's property, not his cellmate's. (Doc.
11, p. 17). Farthing destroyed a 2-inch pyramid that
Petitioner used in the practice of his religion. Id.
As he did so, Farthing laughed and told Plaintiff that he
didn't like Wiccans. (Doc. 11, p. 17, 19). Farthing also
confiscated a denim coat and 2 small prayer stones.
Id. Farthing told Plaintiff that if he could prove
the stones were vital to his religion, he would return them.
Id. Plaintiff was issued a ticket regarding the coat
because it had a secret pocket; Plaintiff contests this
characterization. (Doc. 11, p. 17-18). Plaintiff alleges that
Farthing continued to point and laugh at Plaintiff to other
officers after the incident. (Doc. 11, p. 20).
went before a disciplinary committee made up of Burton and
Rupert after the cell shakedown. (Doc. 11, p. 18). When
Plaintiff tried to explain about his prayer stones, Burton
said, “They are not fucking prayer stones. They are
just rocks and prayer stones are what the state approves and
comes in through the mail.” Id. As punishment,
Plaintiff received 1 month B grade. Id. He filed a
grievance, which was denied by Wegman, Mueller, and Baldwin.
also alleges that his grievances regarding the confiscation
of his religious items and the scheduling of Wiccan prayer
services should have been heard by the Religious Practice
Advisory Board and not the Administrative Review Board. (Doc.
11, p. 19).
September 6, 2017, Plaintiff was making legal copies for this
suit when the law librarian, Sondra Millner noticed a copy of
an email between Chief Chaplain Keim and Teri Anderson
regarding the banning of the Witches' Craft.
(Doc. 11, p. 20). Millner suggested the email be confiscated
and Mueller agreed. Id. Dille confiscated the email.
(Doc. 11, p. 12). Millner also refused to make copies of
certain Illinois regulations when she discovered the nature
of his cause of action. (Doc. 11, p. 20).
has also been prohibited from possessing a set of Rune tiles,
a deck of Tarot cards, a prayer rug, and a pentagram, which
are all necessary to the practice of his sincerely held
religious beliefs. (Doc. 11, p. 21). Wiccans are also not
allowed to access the chapel space on the same basis as other
groups. Id. When Chaplain Heimgardtner was chaplain,
he allowed Wiccans to meet on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Fridays
of the month; when Chaplain Boehler took over in January
2017, he changed the scheduled to every 2nd and 4th Friday of
the month because he did not want the Wiccans to be able to
meet twice in a row during months with 5 weeks. Id.
The change in the schedule has also caused problems with
creating accurate call lists for services. Id.
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se action into 10 counts. 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 following claims survive
Count 1 - Mueller, Boehler, Keim, Baldwin,
and John and Jane Does (Unknown Publication Review Board
members) impermissibly burdened Plaintiff's exercise of
his sincerely held religious beliefs when they created or
approved policies that prohibited the possession of tarot
cards, Witches' Craft: A Multidenominational Wiccan
Bible, rune tiles, a pentagram symbol, etc.; and that
offered services to Wiccan inmates on unequal terms as
members of other religious denominations in violation of the
First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Person's Act (RLUIPA), and the Illinois
Religious Freedom Restoration Act (IRFRA);
Count 2 - Gebke, Christianson, Voss, and
John and Jane Doe members withheld Witches' Craft: A
Multidenominational Wiccan Bible from Plaintiff in
violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, RLUIPA, and
Count 3 - Heimgardtner, McQuarrie, Walker,
Waggoner, Toennies, and Mueller confiscated Plaintiff's
Celtic cross from him in violation of the First and