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Case Name Trapp v. Dubois PC-MA-0018
Docket / Court 95-779 ( State Court )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
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 ... read more >
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


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Massachusetts Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmates and members of the Native American Spiritual Awareness Council challenging a regulation that limits the ability of inmates to wear or display any logos, colors, or other adornments which might identify them as members of a particular group
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1995 - 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 ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Memorandum and Order on Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment 02/26/1996 (1996 WL 1185122 / 1996 Mass.Super.LEXIS 721)
PC-MA-0018-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Order on Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment 02/27/1998 (1998 WL 1182060 / 1998 Mass.Super.LEXIS 333)
PC-MA-0018-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum of Decision Upon Complaint 05/08/2000 (2000 WL 744357)
PC-MA-0018-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Reported Opinion 01/06/2003 (15 Mass. L. Rptr. 615)
PC-MA-0018-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum and Order on Plaintiffs' Motion for Determination of Attorneys' Fees and Costs 12/10/2003 (17 Mass. L. Rptr. 143)
PC-MA-0018-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Second Memorandum and Order on Plaitiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs 03/03/2004 (17 Mass. L. Rptr. 515)
PC-MA-0018-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Agnes, Peter W. Jr. (State Trial Court)
PC-MA-0018-0005 | PC-MA-0018-0006
Bohn, Robert H. Jr. (State Trial Court)
PC-MA-0018-0002
Toomey, Daniel F. (State Trial Court)
PC-MA-0018-0003
Travers, Herbert F. (State Trial Court)
PC-MA-0018-0001
Velis, Peter A. (State Trial Court)
PC-MA-0018-0004
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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