University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Jesus Christ Christian Ministry v. CDCR PC-CA-0044
Docket / Court 2:05-cv-00440 ( E.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On February 25, 2005, the Jesus Christ Christian Ministry, along with fifteen California prisoners, brought suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the California Department of Corrections, under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 ... read more >
On February 25, 2005, the Jesus Christ Christian Ministry, along with fifteen California prisoners, brought suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the California Department of Corrections, under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the Pacific Justice Institute, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, alleging that the Department's refusal to deliver mail that contained religious material from the Ministry violated the RLUIPA and the prisoners' First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.

The Ministry sent the indigent prisoners books of worship and CDs with music to allow the prisoners to practice their chosen religion, Christianity. However, California prison policy only allowed religious materials to be acquired through a list of four organizations. The Ministry was not one of these four organizations. As such, any Ministry materials that were mailed to prisoners were returned to sender, and any Ministry materials found within the prison were considered contraband. The prisoners filed grievances with the Department, but those grievances were either rejected or ignored.

Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. On September 28, 2006, the District Court (Magistrate Judge Dale Drozd) granted in part and denied in part the prisoners' motion for summary judgment, while also granting the Department's motion as to one prisoner (456 F.Supp.2d 1188). In the decision, Judge Drozd held that the policy violated the prisoners' First Amendment right to free exercise and free speech, as well as their rights under the RLUIPA. The Court determined that the distinction between approved and unapproved vendors was arbitrary, and thus could not serve any legitimate penological interest.

Following the grant of summary judgment, the two sides reached a settlement. According to a Prison Legal News article, "the parties stipulated to a Temporary Operational Procedure for SATF, to be a pilot project at (only) SATF for the purpose of developing a workable final CDCR-wide policy." Under the pilot program, "once per month, JCPM shall ship all such requests in bulk to SATF," at which time "the designated chaplain shall be responsible for randomly reviewing tapes/CDs to verify valid religious content." The District Court maintained jurisdiction for six months after implementation of the pilot program, and $16,400 in attorneys' fees and costs were also awarded.

Following the settlement, the case was voluntarily dismissed.

Jonathan Forman - 07/08/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Mail
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) California Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Fifteen California prisoners denied mail containing religious books and videos and the non-profit Christian organization attempting to send them this mail
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2007
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
2:05−cv−00440 (E.D. Cal.) 04/16/2007
PC-CA-0044-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified complaint for violations of religious land use and institutionalized persons act, first, and fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution; injunctive and declaratory relief 03/03/2005
PC-CA-0044-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Answer of Defendants and Demand for Jury Trial 04/29/2005
PC-CA-0044-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 12/21/2005 (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0044-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 09/28/2006 (456 F.Supp.2d 1188) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0044-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order to Continue Hearing on Motion for Reconsideration of Order on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment 12/28/2006 (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0044-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Regarding Stipulation for Voluntary Dismissal 04/16/2007 (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0044-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Drozd, Dale Alan (E.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PC-CA-0044-0001 | PC-CA-0044-0004 | PC-CA-0044-0006 | PC-CA-0044-0007 | PC-CA-0044-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dacus, Brad W (California)
PC-CA-0044-0002
McReynolds, Matthew Brown (California)
PC-CA-0044-9000
Riches, John W. II (California)
PC-CA-0044-0003 | PC-CA-0044-9000
Snider, Kevin Trent (California)
PC-CA-0044-0002 | PC-CA-0044-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Anderson, Robert R. (California)
PC-CA-0044-0003
Flynn, James Edmund (California)
PC-CA-0044-0003
Grunder, Frances T. (California)
PC-CA-0044-0003
Lockyer, Bill (California)
PC-CA-0044-0003
Other Lawyers None on record

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