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Case Name Cooper v. Pate PC-IL-0026
Docket / Court NO. 14127 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 1963, an Illinois state prisoner who was a member of the Nation of Islam filed this §1983 suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, against his warden and the Illinois Director of Public Safety, alleging a violation of the prisoner's rights under the 14th, 8 ... read more >
In 1963, an Illinois state prisoner who was a member of the Nation of Islam filed this §1983 suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, against his warden and the Illinois Director of Public Safety, alleging a violation of the prisoner's rights under the 14th, 8th, and 4th Amendments. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that he was denied permission to obtain and read certain publications, to consult with ministers of his faith, and to attend religious services, solely because of his particular sect of Muslim religious beliefs. Furthermore, Plaintiff alleged that the state placed him in solitary confinement and in a segregation unit because of hostility towards his religion. Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

The Court (Judge Richard B. Austin) dismissed the petition for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. On November 5, 1963, the 7th Circuit (Circuit Judge Duffy) affirmed the dismissal. 324 F.2d 165 (7th Cir. 1963). On June 22, 1964, the Supreme Court reversed the dismissal; without elaboration, the Court held: "Taking as true the allegations of the complaint, as they must be on a motion to dismiss, the complaint stated a cause of action and it was error to dismiss it." 378 U.S.546 (1964) (per curiam). This was the first modern prisoner civil rights lawsuit the Supreme Court allowed to proceed.

On remand, the District Court (Judge Richard B. Austin) held a trial. On July 23, 1965, the Court issued an opinion and order enjoining Defendants from (1) refusing to allow Plaintiff and other followers of Elijah Muhammad to purchase copies of the Holy Quran; (2) categorically refusing to allow followers of Elijah Muhammad to communicate by mail and visit with ministers of their faith; and (3) categorically refusing to allow followers of Elijah Muhammad to attend religious services. The Court also held that Plaintiff's religion did not entitle him to access to special newspapers and language books, and that Plaintiff's incarceration in a segregation unit was not due to his religion. Plaintiff and Defendant appealed different aspects of the judgment.

On June 29, 1967, the Seventh Circuit (Judge Fairchild) affirmed the trial court's injunction and opinion. 382 F.2d 518.

Timothy Shoffner - 04/29/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Illinois
State of Illinois
Plaintiff Description An Illinois prisoner who subscribed to the Elijah Muhammad sect of Islam
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1965 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
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 ]

  Stateville: The Penitentiary in Mass Society
By: James B. Jacobs (New York University School of Law)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Opinion [7th Circuit] 11/05/1963 (324 F.2d 165)
PC-IL-0026-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion [SCOTUS] 06/22/1964 (378 U.S. 546)
PC-IL-0026-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion [7th Circuit] 06/29/1967 (382 F.2d 518)
PC-IL-0026-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Duffy, Francis Ryan (Seventh Circuit, E.D. Wis.)
PC-IL-0026-0001
Fairchild, Thomas Edward (Seventh Circuit)
PC-IL-0026-0003
Knoch, Winfred George (Seventh Circuit, N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0026-0001
Swygert, Luther Merritt (Seventh Circuit, N.D. Ind.)
PC-IL-0026-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Elson, Alex (Illinois)
PC-IL-0026-0002
Weisberg, Bernard (Illinois)
PC-IL-0026-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Berman, Edward A (Illinois)
PC-IL-0026-0002
Clark, William G. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0026-0001 | PC-IL-0026-0002
Kadjan, Daniel (Illinois)
PC-IL-0026-0001
Kaplan, Aubrey F (Illinois)
PC-IL-0026-0001
Sarnow, Raymond S (Illinois)
PC-IL-0026-0001 | PC-IL-0026-0002
Wines, William C (Illinois)
PC-IL-0026-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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