On March 31, 2004, an inmate incarcerated at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Adult Correctional Institutions ("ACI"), on a murder sentence filed a pro se lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island, challenging the prison's prohibition against him ...
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On March 31, 2004, an inmate incarcerated at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Adult Correctional Institutions ("ACI"), on a murder sentence filed a pro se lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island, challenging the prison's prohibition against him preaching at or leading religious services for other inmates. Plaintiff claimed that he engaged in preaching and religious activities from 1995 to 2003 without incident. In 2003, a new warden took over the prison and informed plaintiff that preaching was not allowed. Plaintiff alleged that the prison's actions violated his rights secured by First and Fourteenth Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc.
The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The magistrate judge issued a report recommending dismissal of plaintiffs First and Fourteenth Amendment claims. 2005 WL 348315 ( D.R.I. Jan. 13, 2005). Plaintiff's claims under RLUIPA were stayed pending the Supreme Court's resolution of Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 722-24, 125 S.Ct. 2113, 161 L.Ed.2d 1020 (2005), which considered various constitutional challenges to RLUIPA.
After Cutter was decided, the magistrate judge ordered the parties to submit additional briefing as to the merits of plaintiff's RLUIPA claim. After reviewing the supplemental briefs, the magistrate judge issued a report recommending that summary judgment be entered in favor of the defendants on the RLUIPA claim. Plaintiff objected, but the District Court (Judge William E. Smith) adopted the report and recommendation. Spratt v. Wall, 2006 WL 1582402 (D.R.I. 2006). Plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the ACLU of Rhode Island took over the handling of plaintiff's case. On April 6, 2007, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, reversed and remanded the case. Spratt v. Rhode Island Dept. of Corrections, 482 F.3d 33 (1st Cir. 2007).
In July 2007, the parties settled the case. As part of the settlement agreement, prison officials adopted a new policy that specifically authorized inmates to conduct religious sermons under the direction of an institutional chaplain. The settlement agreement also provided that defendants would pay the plaintiff's attorneys' fees. A Consent Judgment was entered by the District Court (Judge William Smith) on July 30, 2007.Dan Dalton - 11/06/2007