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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Warsoldier v. Woodford PC-CA-0045
Docket / Court 04-2233 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Southern California
Case Summary
On March 31, 2004, a Native American inmate in the California Department of Corrections (CDC) filed a lawsuit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) against the CDC in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division. The plaintiff, ... read more >
On March 31, 2004, a Native American inmate in the California Department of Corrections (CDC) filed a lawsuit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) against the CDC in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division. The plaintiff, represented by the ACLU, claimed that the CDC's hair grooming policy that prohibits male inmates from maintaining their hair longer than three inches violates his rights to religious freedom. The plaintiff asked the court for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting the CDC from punishing him for his religious beliefs and compelling the CDC to lift all disciplinary sanctions that have been imposed on him as a consequence of his refusal to adhere to the grooming policy. He also asked for a declaration that the policy violates his rights under RLUIPA.

The plaintiff is a Cahuilla Native American and an active participant in his tribe. According to the plaintiff's religious faith, hair is a symbol of knowledge and wisdom and is only to be shorn upon the death of a close relative. The plaintiff believed that if he were to cut his hair he would be unable to join his relatives in the afterlife. Except upon his father's death in 1980, the plaintiff had not cut his hair since 1971.

On May 11, 2004, the Court (Judge Ronald S.W. Lew) issued an order denying the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. On appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court (Judge Pregerson) reversed and remanded the District Court's order holding that (1) the policy imposed a substantial burden on the plaintiff's religious practice, (2) the policy was not the least restrictive alternative to achieve the CDC's interest in prison security, and thus violated RLUIPLA, (3) the plaintiff faced the possibility of irreparable injury absent issuance of an injunction, and (4) the balance of hardships favored the plaintiff.

On January 1, 2007, the parties reached a settlement agreement. The CDC agreed to a permanent injunction against the grooming policy that had been in place (the record is unclear, but presumably, the new policy includes some exemptions). California also agreed to expunge from the plaintiff's record all violations of the hair grooming policy, and to not re-incarcerate the plaintiff based on these violations. If re-incarcerated for other reasons, they agreed to not use these violations to determine his classification. Lastly, the CDC agreed to pay $130,000 to the ACLU of Southern California for reasonable attorneys fees.

On July 5, 2007, the case was dismissed with prejudice and the court retained jurisdiction for the sole purpose of enforcing the terms of the settlement agreement.

Renita Khanduja - 07/27/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
American Indian/Alaskan Native
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) California Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description The Plaintiff is a Native American inmate in California.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Southern California
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Cruel Confinement: Abuse, Discrimination and Death Within Alabama's Prisons
Date: Jun. 4, 2014
(Southern Poverty Law Center )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
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
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
2:04−cv−02233 (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0045-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/05/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion (418 F.3d 989)
PC-CA-0045-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/29/2005
Source: Google Scholar
Notice of Settlement and Stipulated Request to Vacate Scheduling Order, Continue Pre-trial Conference and Trial, and Order [ECF# 53]
PC-CA-0045-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/08/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation of Dismissal and Order [ECF# 58] (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0045-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/05/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lew, Ronald S. W. (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0045-0001 | PC-CA-0045-0002 | PC-CA-0045-9000
Paez, Richard A. (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0045-0003
Pregerson, Harry (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0045-0003
Tashima, Atsushi Wallace (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0045-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cregan, Nora C. (California)
PC-CA-0045-9000
Eliasberg, Peter J. (California)
PC-CA-0045-0001 | PC-CA-0045-0002 | PC-CA-0045-9000
Huang, Audrey M. (California)
PC-CA-0045-9000
Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California)
PC-CA-0045-9000
Smith, Stephen Zak (California)
PC-CA-0045-0002 | PC-CA-0045-9000
Wizner, Ben (California)
PC-CA-0045-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bazan, John F. (California)
PC-CA-0045-0001 | PC-CA-0045-0002 | PC-CA-0045-9000
Rittmayer, John E. (California)
PC-CA-0045-9000
Thorpe, Barry G. (California)
PC-CA-0045-9000

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