On December 5, 2005, a convicted murderer on parole in Texas filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. The plaintiff is represented by both public and private counsel. The plaintiff asked the court for a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and damages. The plaintiff asked the court to permanently enjoin the defendants from: imposing the sex-offender label on him without a hearing that met due process requirements; subjecting the plaintiff to conditions that were different than similar supervisees; and failing to accommodate his religious exercise. The plaintiff also alleged that he has not had the same opportunities as other supervisees to acquire a job, obtain a driver's license, or receive education.
On June 25 2007, Judge Lee Yeakel dismissed the plaintiff's claim under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. The plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 were allowed to proceed. The decision allowing the claims to proceed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 was appealed. On June 23, 2008, the US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, affirmed the decision of the district court.
On March 24, 2009, Judge Lee Yeakel ordered that the defendants must afford the plaintiff due process of law, and dismissed, without prejudice, all of his other claims. This judgment was appealed.
On May 20, 2010, The United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, ruled mostly for the plaintiff, slightly modifying the amount of due process that the plaintiff must be afforded.
On March 30, 2011, the district court (Judge Lee Yeakel) granted the plaintiff's motion for the enforcement of the March 24, 2009 judgment as confirmed by the court of appeals, and ordered that the determination of whether the plaintiff should be considered a sex offender should conform with the plaintiff's due process rights. On August 24, 2011, the district court (Judge Lee Yeakel) denied the plaintiff's second motion for enforcement of the judgment, ruling that the defendant's actions after the March 30, 2011 order had sufficiently complied with the March 24, 2009 judgment.
The plaintiff's original sentence for murder ended in 2012. He will remain under mandatory supervision for possessing a weapon in prison in 1989 until 2016.
On September 20, 2013, the court granted a stipulation of dismissal for the Texas Department of Pardons and Parole, and dismissed the claim with prejudice. It appears that the plaintiff settled with the Texas Department of Pardons and Parole.
On December 12, 2013, the defendant the Texas Department of Criminal Justice filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as moot since they did not have the ability to grant the relief that the plaintiff was asking for. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice stated that only the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole had this power, and they had been dismissed from the complaint.
On March 13, 2014, the plaintiff filed a fifth amended complaint based on the defendant's motion to dismiss for mootness. On July 29, 2014, the plaintiff filed a sixth amended complaint alleging that the plaintiff was unable to move into suitable housing and denied employment due to the defendant's actions.
The case is still ongoing.Steve Vnuk - 10/30/2014