United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Alfonza Hardy Greenhill, Pro Se Plaintiff.
Grace Miller, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the
Attorney General, Criminal Justice and Public Safety
Division, Richmond, Virginia, for Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
prisoner civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is
before me on the Report and Recommendation
(“Report”) of the magistrate judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). The magistrate judge
recommends that I should deny the plaintiff's motions
seeking preliminary injunctive relief allowing him to
participate in a weekly group religious service. The
plaintiff has filed timely objections to the Report. After
conducting a de novo review, I will overrule the objections,
adopt the Report, and deny Greenhill's motions for
Complaint, Greenhill contends that prison officials violated
his right to free exercise of his religious beliefs under the
First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”). After I
denied Greenhill's motion seeking a preliminary
injunction, he took an interlocutory appeal. Greenhill v.
Clarke, No. 7:16CV00068, 2016 WL 1179225 (W.D. Va. Mar.
23, 2016), aff'd in part and remanded in part,
No. 16-6542, 2016 WL 7414198 (4th Cir. Dec. 22, 2016)
(unpublished). The court of appeals affirmed this court's
denial of preliminary injunctive relief as to Greenhill's
claims regarding the prison's grooming policy and process
of serving religious meals, but remanded the case for further
consideration of his contention that the court should order
prison officials to allow him to participate in Jum'ah,
the Islamic Friday congregational service. I referred the
matter to the magistrate judge, resulting in the present
Report and Greenhill's objections to it.
Report's recites certain facts to which Greenhill does
not object. Greenhill's sincere religious beliefs require
him to be present bodily or visually at Jum'ah. Greenhill
arrived at Red Onion State Prison (“Red Onion”)
in 2013. He was classified as a Security Level S inmate in
September 2015 after he had incurred ten institutional
disciplinary charges during the previous two years. Level S
inmates are segregated from other inmates and therefore
cannot bodily attend Jum'ah services. Red Onion
broadcasts a videotape of Jum'ah services every week for
inmates. There are no communal televisions available to Level
S inmates like Greenhill. Level S inmates who own a
television may view this service but Greenhill is indigent
and cannot afford to purchase a television, which costs $212
from the prison commissary. Greenhill remains in Level S and
its restrictive conditions because he refuses to participate
in the prison's Step Down Program.
magistrate judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976). The
district judge is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of a report and recommendation to which a
party makes proper objections. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never
awarded as of right.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def.
Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). The party seeking
the preliminary injunction must make a clear showing
“that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is
likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of
preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his
favor, and that an injunction is in the public
interest.” Id. at 20.
state a viable claim under the First Amendment or RLUIPA,
Greenhill must demonstrate that the defendant prison
officials' actions or policies place a substantial burden
on his free exercise of his sincere religious belief.
Thomas v. Review Bd. of Ind. Emp't Sec. Div.,
450 U.S. 707, 718 (1981) (First Amendment); Lovelace v.
Lee, 472 F.3d 174, 185 (4th Cir. 2006) (RLUIPA, 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a)). For purposes of the First
Amendment or RLUIPA, a substantial burden on religious
exercise occurs when a state action or policy “put[s]
substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior
and to violate his beliefs.” Id. at 187
(quoting Thomas, 450 U.S. at 718). “No
substantial burden occurs if the government action merely
makes the ‘religious exercise more expensive or
difficult' or inconvenient, but does not pressure the
adherent to violate his or her religious beliefs or abandon
one of the precepts of his or her religion.” Marron
v. Miller, No. 7:13CV00338, 2014 WL 2879745, at *2 (W.D.
Va. June 24, 2014) (citing Smith v. Allen, 502 F.3d
1255, 1278 (11th Cir. 2007); Living Water Church of God
v. Charter Twp. of Meridian, 258 F. App'x 729, 739
(6th Cir. 2007) (unpublished)).
upon these principles, the Report concludes that the facts in
this case are not likely to support a viable claim that the
defendants' policies have prohibited Greenhill from
practicing Jum'ah in segregation; rather, the Report
finds, the policies have merely made his practice more
inconvenient or expensive. To practice his beliefs, he must
participate in the Step Down Program to work toward leaving
segregation and/or purchase a television.
Report finds that “[i]t is unlikely that Greenhill can
demonstrate that the defendants' actions placed a
substantial burden on his right to freely exercise his
religious beliefs, ” and therefore, he “has
failed to show that he will likely prevail on his First
Amendment claim or his RLUIPA claim.” Report 10, ECF
No. 41. The magistrate judge recommends that I deny
Greenhill's request to grant preliminary injunctive
relief. Greenhill objects to of these findings and complains
that his indigence and his inability to have a prison job
(because of his noncompliance with the beard-grooming policy)
prevent him from purchasing a television, and in turn,
prevent him from practicing Jum'ah, in violation of his
beliefs. These inconvenient or difficult aspects of his
problem, however, are not caused by the challenged Jum'ah
policies. On the contrary, the policies accommodate
inmates' Jum'ah practice. Greenhill's Level S
status, caused by his disciplinary problems, combined with
his financial status, ...