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Case Name Remmers v. Brewer PC-IA-0013
Docket / Court 72-177 ( S.D. Iowa )
State/Territory Iowa
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On August 3, 1972, two inmates of the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison filed a pro se lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa against prison officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of their First Amendment right to freely practice their religion as ... read more >
On August 3, 1972, two inmates of the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison filed a pro se lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa against prison officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of their First Amendment right to freely practice their religion as members of the Church of New Song (CONS). They also complained that involving chaplains in the parole process violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. After a trial on February 22-23, 1973, the Court (Judge William C. Hansen) found for the plaintiffs, ruling that the Church of New Song was a religion protected by the First Amendment and ordered prison officials to grant the church's members equal rights to exercise their religion. Remmers v. Brewer, 361 F.Supp. 537 (S.D. Iowa 1973). The District Court further ruled that involving chaplains in the parole process was not a violation of the Establishment Clause.

The prison officials appealed and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges Floyd R. Gibson, Roy L. Stephenson, and William H. Webster) affirmed. Remmers v. Brewer, 494 F.2d 1277 (8th Cir. 1974). The prison officials appealed to the United States Supreme Court but were denied certiorari. Remmers v. Brewer, 419 U.S. 1012 (1974).

On April 16, 1975, the prison officials moved in the District Court to reopen the case, vacate the judgment, and dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint, claiming that the new religion was a hoax and the group was actually of a political nature. The plaintiffs moved to hold the defendants in contempt. The Court (Judge William C. Hanson) denied both motions on June 12, 1975, finding that CONS was a religion and that the state had not shown that the prisoners' beliefs were fraudulent or insincere. Remmers v. Brewer, 396 F.Supp. 145 (S.D. Iowa 1975).

Both parties appealed and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Gerald W. Heaney) ruled that a further evidentiary hearing was required on the issue of the plaintiffs' motion to hold the defendants in contempt and remanded that portion of the case. Remmers v. Brewer, 529 F.2d 656 (8th Cir. 1976). The Court of Appeals also remanded the defendants' motion to reopen the case because new affidavits had been filed since the District Court had ruled on the issue. Certiorari was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. Remmers v. Brewer, 419 U.S. 1012 (1974).

On post-judgment motions, the District Court (Judge Hanson) held that the record on remand did not present sufficient evidence that the prisoners' beliefs were insincere to warrant overturning the ruling that CONS was entitled to First Amendment protection. Loney v. Scurr, 474 F. Supp. 1186 (S.D. Iowa 1979).

Some 25 years later, on December 16, 2004, the defendants filed a motion seeking relief from the previous injunction, alleging that the Church of New Song was really a white supremacist gang that posed a security threat to the prison. The PACER docket begins on February 7, 2005 with the recording of this motion, so we do not have information about any proceedings in the interim 25 years. However, it appears that the docket number changed several times. On February 24, 2005, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Ross A. Walters for a report and recommendation. The case was prolonged by several motions for an extended time period to file a response, once on March 21, 2005 by the plaintiffs, and again on April 5, 2005 as the court made its own motion to delay the time for the plaintiffs' response. The plaintiffs moved to substitute parties on March 29, 2005 and, on September 2, 2005, the Court (Judge Robert W. Pratt) scheduled an evidentiary hearing and final pretrial conference. The

This issue was also the subject matter of several subsequent suits, Goff v. Mascher, filed on May 8, 1997 (PC-IA-023); and Voshell v. Spence, filed on September 22, 2003 (PC-IA-022). After a number of hearings and time extensions, the Magistrate Judge issued his report and recommendation, stating that the circumstances had changed and that the CONS was a front for gang-related activity. As such, the Magistrate Judge held that it was no longer equitable to enforce the previous injunction, and recommended that the Court dissolve the injunction. On April 2, 2009, the Court adopted the recommendation and dismissed the case because no objections were made and because they found it to be reasonable.

(Note: There is another litigation by the same name, involving one of the same plaintiffs, but it is unrelated to this one. Remmers v. Brewer, 472 F.2d 52 (8th Cir. 1973)).

Stacey Jensen - 06/05/2006
Maurice Youkanna - 07/16/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Mail
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Iowa State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description Inmates in state prison alleging that their rights to practice their religion had been violated
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1973 - 2009
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-IA-0022 : Voshell v. Spence (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0024 : Loney v. Scurr (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0023 : Goff v. Maschner (S.D. Iowa)
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)
05-00068 (S.D. Iowa) 08/10/2009
PC-IA-0013-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order 07/24/1973 (361 F.Supp. 537) (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 04/16/1974 (494 F.2d 1277)
PC-IA-0013-0008 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 11/11/1974 (419 U.S. 332)
PC-IA-0013-0014 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order 11/11/1974 (419 U.S. 1012)
PC-IA-0013-0015 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order 06/12/1975 (396 F.Supp. 145) (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0009 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 02/12/1976 (529 F.2d 656)
PC-IA-0013-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum & Order 07/18/1979 (474 F.Supp. 1186) (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0011 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Defendants' Motion 02/07/2005
PC-IA-0013-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion 02/07/2005
PC-IA-0013-0002 PDF | Detail
Order Appoint Counsel and for R. 16(B) Hearing 02/08/2005 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Answer to Defendants' 60B Motion 06/09/2005
PC-IA-0013-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Answer 06/29/2005
PC-IA-0013-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion to Strike Jury Demand 09/15/2005
PC-IA-0013-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendations on Motions for Relief from a Judgment or Order 12/05/2008
PC-IA-0013-0012 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Adopting Report and Recommendation and Granting Defendants' Motion to be Relieved from Prospective Relief 04/02/2009 (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Douglas, William Orville (SCOTUS)
PC-IA-0013-0014 | PC-IA-0013-0015
Gibson, Floyd Robert (W.D. Mo., Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0013-0008
Hansen, David Rasmussen (N.D. Iowa, Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0013-0007
Hanson, William Cook (S.D. Iowa, N.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0009 | PC-IA-0013-0011
Heaney, Gerald William (Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0013-0010
Pratt, Robert W. (S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0013 | PC-IA-0013-9000
Ross, Donald Roe (Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0013-0010
Stephenson, Roy Laverne (Eighth Circuit, S.D. Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0008
Walters, Ross A. (S.D. Iowa) [Magistrate]
PC-IA-0013-0003 | PC-IA-0013-0012 | PC-IA-0013-9000
Webster, William Hedgcock (E.D. Mo., Eighth Circuit)
PC-IA-0013-0008 | PC-IA-0013-0010
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, Gary L. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0010
Bartels, Robert D. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0007 | PC-IA-0013-0009
Clinton, Robert N. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0007 | PC-IA-0013-0008 | PC-IA-0013-0009 | PC-IA-0013-0010
Dallyn, Selwyn (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0011
Ingram, Patrick E. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0004 | PC-IA-0013-9000
Lavorato, Cindy (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0011
Lindahl, Barry A. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0007 | PC-IA-0013-0009
Pulaski, Charles Jr. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0010
Schwartz, Barbara A. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0011
Thompson, John M. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0010
Van Cleve, Gary (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0011
Whiston, John B. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-9000
Whitacre, Jan (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0011
Wycoff, Steven R. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hronek, Thomas R. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0007 | PC-IA-0013-0008
Lindebak, Layne M. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0001 | PC-IA-0013-0002 | PC-IA-0013-0006 | PC-IA-0013-9000
Miller, Thomas J. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0001 | PC-IA-0013-0002 | PC-IA-0013-0005 | PC-IA-0013-0006
Murphy, Michael P. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0010
Robinson, Stephen C. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0011
Turner, Richard C. (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0009 | PC-IA-0013-0010
Wallace, H. Loraine (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0001 | PC-IA-0013-0002 | PC-IA-0013-0005 | PC-IA-0013-0006 | PC-IA-0013-9000
Williams, Lorna Lawhead (Iowa)
PC-IA-0013-0007 | PC-IA-0013-0009 | PC-IA-0013-0010
Other Lawyers None on record

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