On March 15, 1982, Muslim prisoners at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman filed a class action lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Greenville Division. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that conditions of confinement in DOC violated their constitutional rights to religious freedom.
On August 17, 1982, the Magistrate Judge (Judge unknown), having previously consolidated the case with others, certified the consolidated causes as a class action.
On March 8, 1983, the Magistrate Judge issued a report and recommendation and, on April 4, 1983, the District Court (Judge W.C. Keady) adopted the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation. Apparently, the Magistrate Judge's report found that the plaintiffs' allegations were sufficiently credible and the District Court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss.
On September 26, 1985, the District Court (Judge Keady) dismissed the cause of action because the parties had settled, and closed the case. On November 18, 1985, the Court entered an agreed order of settlement and dismissal, subject to certain provisions.
On April 17, 1991, the District Court (Judge Keady) modified the agreed order with respect to place of worship, presence of a fulltime Imam, prison diet, provisions respecting hair and beards and the availability of religious materials to the inmates.
On October 28, 1991, the Magistrate Court (Judge Jerry A. Davis) ordered that the plaintiffs be allowed to solicit voluntary donations but could not sell donated items at Parchman.
After the plaintiffs' counsel withdrew in August 1995, and other inmates entered motions to intervene and to hold the defendants in contempt, as well as to certify the class, on April 3, 1996, the case was reopened and reassigned to Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander. The plaintiffs were appointed new counsel.
On September 25, 1996, the Magistrate Court (Judge Alexander) denied all of these motions and ordered the appointed counsel to submit a final report of his investigation and settlement negotiations.
On November 18, 1997, the case was reassigned to District Judge L. T. Senter, Jr., and Magistrate Judge Jerry A. Davis. The District Court (Judge Senter) approved another agreed order, consolidating the claims, certifying the class as "all adherents of the Muslim [sic] religion sentenced to the custody of MDOC," awarding attorneys' fees and requiring, pursuant to Moore v. Fordice, PC-MS-0002, that the parties seek in good faith an informal resolution to any dispute in this case prior to instituting legal action.
On March 31, 1998, the case was referred back to Magistrate Judge Alexander. On April 3, 1998, the Magistrate Court (Judge Alexander) recommended that the District Court deny the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order. And, on April 30, 1998, the District Court (Judge Senter) adopted the recommendation and denied the temporary restraining order.
On August 6, 1998, the case was reassigned to District Court Judge Neal B. Biggers, Jr., and, on August 17, 1998, the case was again reassigned to District Court Judge Glen H. Davidson. After Judge Davidson recognized the parties' stipulation to the content of a post-judgment trial, on August 24, 1998, the case was referred again to Magistrate Judge Davis.
The Magistrate Court (Judge Davis) subsequently denied a number of the plaintiffs' motions to proceed without the class counsel and a number of intervenors' motions to find the defendants in contempt. The plaintiffs appealed and, on April 27, 2001, the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit vacated in part and reversed in part, though the order is not available.
On October 4, 2002, the Magistrate Court (Judge Davis) denied a number of motions to intervene. Subsequently, in September, October and November 2005, Judge Davis dismissed a number of plaintiffs for failure to prosecute.
On October 2, 2006, a preliminary injunction hearing was scheduled for November 15, 2006. Following the hearing, the motion was denied as moot because the parties were working on a joint modification of the consent decree. Several months later, the consent decree was amended to improve medical care for inmates. On July 28, 2008, the court approved a supplemental consent decree allowing more religious freedom to inmates. Following this consent decree, another inmate filed a separate complaint regarding religious freedom--the court consolidated his complaint with this case, and denied his motion for preliminary relief after deciding that sufficient relief was granted by the July 28, 2008, consent decree. On March 10, 2011, this case was dismissed.Josh Altman - 10/30/2006
Maurice Youkanna - 07/26/2014