University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Rodrigues v. Espinda PC-HI-0007
Docket / Court 1CC16-1-000073 ( State Court )
State/Territory Hawaii
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On January 14, 2016, a Native Hawaiian prisoner filed this lawsuit in the First Circuit Court in Honolulu. The plaintiff sued the Department of Public Safety and the Hawaii Community Correctional Center. Represented by the Native American Legal Corporation, the plaintiff sought injunctive relief, ... read more >
On January 14, 2016, a Native Hawaiian prisoner filed this lawsuit in the First Circuit Court in Honolulu. The plaintiff sued the Department of Public Safety and the Hawaii Community Correctional Center. Represented by the Native American Legal Corporation, the plaintiff sought injunctive relief, claiming that officials at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center were preventing him from practicing his religion. Specifically, he claimed that the officials prevented him from accessing sacred religious items and participating in rituals and ceremonies while observing Makahiki (a season dedicated to the Hawaiian god Lono), in violation of the Free Exercise and Equal Protection clauses of the First Amendment and the Hawaii State Constitution.

Much of this information about the complaint comes from a Civil Beat news article, as the complaint is not available through the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Public Access to Court Information site. The Public Access site does provide a list of case documents (without live links) and court minutes; these are posted in the Clearinghouse record.

Because the case document list includes dates according to the date the entry is added (rather than the dates the documents were filed with or issued by the court), the exact dates of some of the subsequent proceedings are unclear; some precise dates can be discerned from the court minutes. In January 2016, the defendants filed an answer. Also in January, the plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction. The plaintiff amended his motion twice in the next couple of months.

On February 18, 2016, the court held a hearing on the preliminary injunction. During the hearing, the plaintiff’s attorney stated settlement terms for the record, but the parties then disagreed about whether they had previously agreed to some of the stated terms, so the court decided to not place the terms on the record. The court then issued a stipulation and order on the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction.

On March 9, the court issued an order granting in part and denying in part the plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint. The court granted the motion with respect to reflecting the fact that the plaintiff was in a different facility (Halawa Correctional Facility), presumably due to a transfer, as was mentioned in previous court minutes. The court also granted the motion with respect to alleging matters related to his inability to observe the closing of Makahiki at Halawa. The court denied the motion with respect to the following: expanding the scope of the motion beyond the limited issue of injury to the plaintiff; amending the motion to allegations of broad policy violations; amending the motion to seek relief for harm, injury, or damages to individuals other than himself; and in all other respects. The plaintiff’s lawyer subsequently listed the plaintiff’s first amended complaint in the document list.

Over the next several months, the parties engaged in settlement discussions.

Court minutes dated October 21, 2016 reveal that the plaintiff was transferred to a correctional facility in Arizona. According to the minutes, the plaintiff’s lawyer was unable to contact the plaintiff. The defendants argued that the relief sought was moot, and that there was no longer need for a hearing and meeting. The court, stating that the hearing is based on the allegations of the complaint, denied the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. A settlement conference for a later date was taken off the calendar.

The document list contains an entry (dated January 12, 2017) regarding the reassignment of the case to a different judge. As of April 15, 2017, it is unclear from the available records what is currently happening in the case, but the records do not conclusively show that the case has been closed.

Julie Singer - 04/15/2017

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Religion discrimination
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action
Defendant(s) Hawaii Community Correctional Center
Hawaii Department of Public Safety
Plaintiff Description Prisoner who sought to practice his religion by observing Makahiki in the Hawaii Community Correctional Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 01/14/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  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 Faculty)
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 Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

1CC161000073 (State Trial Court)
PC-HI-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/07/2016
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
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Judges Crandall, Virginia L (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
Sakamoto, Karl K (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Manley, Sharla Ann (Hawaii) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Awong, William Ryan Kaikaina (Hawaii) show/hide docs
Itomura, Lisa Michiko (Hawaii) show/hide docs
Kalama, Donna H. (Hawaii) show/hide docs

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