United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
JACKSON L. RISER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Muhammad, a Virginia prisoner proceeding pro se, commenced
this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various
staff of the Virginia Department of Corrections
("VDOC") and the Red Onion State Prison
("ROSP"). Plaintiff complains that Defendants
failed to provide adequate process in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause and religious
feasts in violation of the First Amendment's Free
Exercise Clause and the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA").
Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, and the
matter was referred to a magistrate judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(B)(1)(b). The magistrate judge recommends
that I grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and
Plaintiff timely objected. After reviewing the record, I
overrule Plaintiffs objections, adopt the report and
recommendation, and grant Defendants' motion for summary
district court must review de novo any part of a
report and recommendation to which a party objects, and it
must provide its independent reasoning when a party raises
new evidence or a new argument in an objection. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C); Orpiano v. Johnson. 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). The reasoning need not be elaborate
or lengthy, but it must provide a specific rationale that
permits meaningful appellate review. See, e.g.. United
States v. Carter, 564 F.3d 325, 330 (4th Cir. 2009).
However, de novo review is not required when
objections concern legal issues and not factual issues.
See, e.g., Orpiano, 687 ¶.26. at 47.
Notably, de novo review is not required "when a
party makes general or conclusory objections that do not
direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate
judge's proposed findings and recommendations."
Id. A district court is also not required to review
any issue when no party objects. See, e.g., Thomas v.
Am, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985); Cambv v. Davis,
718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983).
Fourth Circuit has held that an objecting party must object
"with sufficient specificity so as reasonably to alert
the district court of the true ground for the
objection." United States v. Midgette, 478 F.3d
616, 622 (4th Cir. 2007).
To conclude otherwise would defeat the purpose of requiring
objections. We would be permitting a party to appeal any
issue that was before the magistrate judge, regardless of the
nature and scope of objections made to the magistrate
judge's report. Either the district court would then have
to review every issue in the magistrate judge's proposed
findings and recommendations or courts of appeals would be
required to review issues that the district court never
considered. In either case, judicial resources would be
wasted and the district court's effectiveness based on
help from magistrate judges would be undermined.
Id. Furthermore, objections that only repeat
arguments raised before a magistrate judge are considered
general objections to the entirety of the report and
recommendation, which has the same effect as a failure to
object. Venev v. Astrue. 539 F.Supp.2d 841, 845
(W.D. Va. 2008).
magistrate judge described the claims as follows:
In his Complaint, (Docket Item No. 1), Muhammad has sued
numerous defendants. These defendants include Earl Barksdale,
G. Baker, Dwayne Turner, Artrip, Walter Swiney, Roy Sykes,
L.R. Collins, A. David Robinson and P. Scarberry.
Muhammad's Complaint alleged that he was scheduled to
appear for an ICA hearing for classification on April 6,
2015. Muhammad stated that he was not notified of this
hearing and was not present during the hearing. Muhammad
alleged that the failure to provide him notice and the
failure to allow him to be present at this April 6 hearing
violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment. It appears that Muhammad also claimed that the
failure of his Dual Treatment Team, ("DTT"), to
give him a hearing before placing him on IM status also
violated his due process rights. Muhammad also alleged that
the failure of Defendants Barksdale and Turner to release him
from segregation when his disciplinary conviction was reduced
also violated his due process rights.
Muhammad also alleged in his Complaint that, on May 15, 2015,
he received a document from Counselor Deel, requesting that
all offenders who wanted to participate in Ramadan fill out
the document stating the diet with which they wished to fast.
Muhammad stated that he wished to receive the Common Fare
diet. Muhammad stated that, according to Islam, the fast of
Ramadan is to be followed by two feasts - the feast of Eid ul
Fitr within three days of the end of the Ramadan fast and the
feast of Eid ul Adha within 70 days of the end of Ramadan.
Muhammad alleged that, because he was on the Common Fare
diet, he was denied these two feasts. Muhammad alleged that
the denial of these feasts was a violation of his First
Amendment right to the free exercise of his religious beliefs
and violated his rights under RLUIPA. In his Complaint,
Muhammad alleged, "Ramadan, Eid ul Fitr, and Eid ul Adha
[are] ... important practice[s] for Muslims a month of
prayer, fasting sacrifice and celebrating that[']s
prescribed by Allah, (God), which only comes once a
year." Muhammad also alleged that denial of the feasts
to him imposed "a substantial burden" on the free
exercise of his religion.
and Recommendation 7-8.)
magistrate judge recommends granting Defendants' motion
for summary judgment because Plaintiff failed to establish
that any defendant violated federal law. The magistrate judge
determined that "Muhammad has offered no evidence that
[Barksdale, Artrip, G. Baker, Swiney and Robinson] took any
action against him" and did not describe conditions of
confinement that implicate federal due process protections.
(Id. at 10-11.) For the religion claims, the
magistrate judge concluded that Plaintiff failed to establish
a substantial burden to his religious exercise by being
served Common Fare foods instead of "special" foods
for Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha. (Id. at 12.)
objections to these findings are overruled. He tries to
establish the various ways Barksdale, Artrip, Baker, Swiney,
and Robinson were involved with his claims and mostly
reiterates his religion claims, which in turn consists mostly
of invoking labels and conclusions. Regardless to any
defendant's personal involvement, Plaintiff fails to
establish how any condition he experienced for six months at
ROSP constitutes an atypical and significant hardship in
relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life. See,
e.g., Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484
(1995). Consequently, Plaintiff is not entitled to federal
due process protections about his brief confinement in
segregation, even if prison officials have not followed their
own policies or procedures. See, e.g.. United States v.
Caceres. 440 U.S. 741 (1979); Riccio v. County of
Fairfax. Virginia. 907 F.2d 1459, 1469 (4th Cir. 1990).
Despite his dissatisfaction with the Common Fare foods like
beans served for the feasts, Plaintiff fails to establish any
"substantial pressure" on him "to modify his
behavior and to violate his beliefs" or force him
"to choose between following the precepts of h[is]
religion and forfeiting [governmental] benefits, on the one
hand, and abandoning one of the precepts of h[is] religion...
on the other hand." Lovelace v. Lee, 472 F.3d