United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
A.Gibney, Jr. United States District Judge
Robinson, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action. Robinson contends that his rights under the First
Amendment were violated when he was prevented from engaging
in group prayer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail
("Jail"). The matter is before the Court on
Robinson's failure to serve Defendants Doe and Smith and
on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Brown.
For the reasons set forth below, ail claims against
Defendants Doe and Smith will be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE
and Brown's Motion for Summary Judgment will be GRANTED.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m), Robinson had ninety
(90) days from the filing of the complaint to serve the
defendants. Here, that period commenced on November
27, 2018. More than ninety (90) days have elapsed and
Robinson failed to serve Defendants Doe and Smith. Therefore,
by Memorandum Order entered on April 4, 2019, the Court
directed Robinson to show good cause for his failure to serve
Defendants Doe and Smith in the time required by Rule 4(m).
Robinson did not respond. Accordingly, all claims against
Defendants Doe and Smith will be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
Standard for a Motion for Summary Judgment
judgment must be rendered "if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment bears
the responsibility of informing the Court of the basis for
the motion and identifying the parts of the record which
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary
judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file." Id. at 324 (internal
quotation marks omitted). When the motion is properly
supported, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings
and, by citing affidavits or '"depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate
'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.'" Id. (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c), (e) (1986)). In reviewing a summary judgment motion,
the Court "must draw all justifiable inferences in favor
of the nonmoving party." United States v. Carolina
Transformer Co., 978 F.2d 832, 835 (4th Cir. 1992)
(citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986)). However, a mere "scintilla of
evidence" will not preclude summary judgment.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251 (quoting Improvement
Co. v. Munson, 81 U.S. (14 Wall.) 442, 448 (1872)).
"[T]here is a preliminary question for the judge, not
whether there is literally no evidence, but whether there is
any upon which a jury could properly proceed to find a
verdict for the party . . . upon whom the onus of proof is
imposed." Id. (quoting Munson, 81 U.S.
support of his Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant Brown
has submitted: his own affidavit ("Brown Aff.," ECF
No. 19-1); the affidavit of Sergeant Ebony Herelle,
("Herelle Aff.," ECF No. 19-2); copies of jail
grievance records (ECF No. 19-2, at 3-4); and the affidavit
of Lieutenant Stephen Phillips ("Phillips Aff," ECF
No. 19-3). Robinson has not responded. Accordingly, the
following facts are established for purposes of the Motion
for Summary Judgment.
times relevant to this action, Robinson was an inmate at the
Jail. (ECF No. 1, at 5 (as paginated by CM/ECF).) Defendant
Brown was employed as a Sergeant at the Jail. (Brown Aff.
¶ 1.) On May 14, 2018, Defendant Brown denied
Robinson's request to be allowed to pray with other
Muslim inmates in the gym at the Jail. (Id. ¶
4.) Defendant Brown told Robinson that he and the other
inmates could pray in their cells. (Id. ¶ 5.)
"For security reasons, [Jail] policy does not permit
group prayer if there is no outside religious authority
available to supervise." (Id. ¶ 6.)
"This policy seeks to prevent any surreptitious activity
or conversation in an unsupervised group that may present a
security risk." (Phillips Aff. ¶ 4.) At the time of
Robinson's request on May 14, 2018, "no outside
Muslim cleric or lay leader [was] present to supervise group
prayer." (Brown Aff ¶ 7.)
Jail "strives at all time to locate volunteer Imams or
Muslim lay leaders who ... are able to lead and supervise
group prayer for Muslim inmates. When a Muslim leader is
available, group prayer is permitted, such as at Friday
Jumuah services. When a Muslim leader cannot be found, group
prayer is not permitted." (Phillips Aff. ¶ 5.)
Additionally, Muslim inmates are entitled to possess a Quran
and pray in their cells. (Id. ¶¶ 6-7.)
Further, Muslim inmates may request special diets and are
provided meals at the religiously appropriate times during
Ramadan. (Id. ¶ 8.)
in order to survive summary judgment on a claim that a
defendant violated his rights under the Free Exercise Clause
of the First Amendment, a plaintiff must demonstrate
"(1) that he holds a sincere belief that is religious in
nature" and (2) that the defendant imposed a substantial
burden on the practice of his religion. Whitehouse v.
Johnson, No. 1:10CV1175 (CMH/JFA), 2011 WL 5843622, at
*4 (E.D. Va. Nov. 18, 2011) (citing Hernandez v.
Comm'r, 490 U.S. 680, 699 (1989)). Defendant Brown,
however, does not dispute that Robinson has a sincere
religious desire to engage in group prayer and that
preventing group prayer substantially burdens Robinson's
religion. Rather, Defendant Brown contends that his actions
pass constitutional muster because they satisfy the
four-factor "reasonable relationship" test for
analyzing the constitutionality of regulations that burden
prisoners' fundamental rights set forth in Turner v.
Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89-91 (1987).
reconciled the principles that inmates retain certain
important constitutional protections with the deference owed
to prison administrators "by holding that restrictive
prison regulations are permissible if they are reasonably
related to legitimate penological interests, and are not an
exaggerated response to such objectives." Beard v.
Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 528 (2006) (internal citation
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). In assessing
whether a regulation is reasonable, courts must consider (1)
whether a "valid, rational connection [exists] between
the prison regulation and the legitimate governmental
interest put forward to justify it," (2) whether
"alternative means of exercising the right [exist] that
remain open to prison inmates," (3) what "impact
accommodation of the asserted constitutional right will have
on guards and other inmates, and on the allocation of prison
resources generally," and (4) whether there was an
"absence of ready alternatives" to the regulation
in question. Turner, 482 U.S. at 89-90 (citations
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). In conducting
this inquiry, "[t]he burden, moreover, is not on the
State to prove the validity of prison regulations but on the
prisoner to disprove it." Overton v. Bazzetta,
539 U.S. 126, 132 (2003) (citing Shaw v. Murphy, 532
U.S. 223, 232 (2001); O'Lone v. Estate of
Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 350 (1987); Jones v. N.C.
Prisoners'Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119,
is a valid rational connection between prohibiting
unsupervised inmate group religious activity [and] ...
promoting institutional security." Lee v.
Gurney, No. 3:08CV99, 2009 WL 3109850, at *4 (E.D. Va.
Sept. 25, 2009) (citing Cooper v. Tard, 855 F.2d
125, 129-30 (3d Cir. 1988); Allah v. Al-Hafeez, 208
F.Supp.2d 520, 532 (E.D. Pa. 2002)). "[U]nsupervised
meetings could be used to plan a riot or for gang ...