Plaintiffs, members of the Native American Spiritual Awareness Council and inmates at the North Central Correctional Institution at Gardner, brought suit in Massachusetts Superior Court against prison officials on April 12, 1995 alleging violations of their rights to religious freedom and moved for a preliminary injunction. There is no indication of whether plaintiffs were represented by counsel.
After a hearing and agreement of the parties, Judge Kottmyer granted a preliminary injunction on May 12, 1995 stating that defendants were to permit the use of ceremonial headbands by plaintiffs.
On October 10, 1995, plaintiffs moved that the Department of Correction was in contempt of the preliminary injunction, and ten days later, Judge Kottmyer denied that motion for contempt.
The court denied plaintiffs' two motions for summary judgment. Trapp v. DuBois, 1996 WL 1185122 (Mass. Super. Feb. 26, 1996); Trapp v. DuBois, 1998 WL 1182060 (Mass. Super. Feb. 27, 1998).
A bench trial commenced on December 14, 1999 in the Worcester Superior Court. Testimony was offered, documentary evidence was received, and memoranda or law were, in lieu of closing arguments, solicited from counsel. The memoranda were received on January 14, 2000 and March 2, 2000, and the court (Judge Toomey) entered a Memorandum of Decision Upon Complaint on May 8, 2000. Trapp v. DuBois, 2000 WL 744357 (Mass. Super. May 8, 2000). Because many of the disputes that prompted claims in the complain were resolved by pre-trial injunctive relief, waivers, and agreements between the parties, the only issue for resolution was the dispute over the defendants' refusal to permit plaintiffs to employ a purification lodge and its usual rituals in the practice of their religion. The court found that although plaintiffs religious beliefs were sincere, defendants' preclusion of purification lodges and the ceremonies conducted therein was reasonably related to the legitimate objectives of defendants' authority, was justified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts's interests in penological security, and did not unduly burden plaintiffs' constitutional rights to practice their religion.
On June 17, 2002, plaintiff Trapp complained that the Department of Correction was in contempt of Judge Toomey's order of May 4, 2000 by confiscating his animal tooth necklace. On July 8, 2002, plaintiff Wiyakaska (a/k/a William Whitefeather Durfee) complained that the Department of Correction was in contempt of the order by refusing to authorize the purchase of a three-tier necklace kit. On July 22, 2002, the Department of Correction moved to dismiss Trapp and Wiyakaska's complaints, and a hearing was held two months later. The Massachusetts Superior Court (Judge Velis) allowed defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiffs' motions for contempt of court
Two Memoranda and Orders on Plaintiffs' Motion for Determination of Attorneys Fees and Costs were published in December 2003 and March 2004. Trapp v. DuBois, 2003 WL 22938532 (Mass. Super. Dec. 10, 2003); Trapp v. DuBois, 2004 WL 856601 (Mass. Super. March 3, 2004).
There is no docket available for this case.Theresa Spaulding - 07/19/2005