United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
A. GIBNEY JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
John Reese, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this civil action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The action proceeds on Reese's
Particularized Complaint ("Complaint," ECF No.
In his Complaint, Reese contends that, during his
incarceration at the Meherrin River Regional Jail
("MRRJ"), Defendants violated his right to practice
his "Pagan/Wiccan" religion. (Id. at 7.)
This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary
Judgment filed by Defendants. (ECF No. 29.) Reese filed a
Response (ECF No. 38), and Defendants filed a Reply (ECF No.
For the reasons stated below, the Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 29) will be DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
Court construes Reese to raise the following claims for
Claim One: Defendants violated Reese's First
Amendment right to free exercise of religion when
they refused to accommodate his request "to set up a
weekly off housing unit Pagan/Wiccan faith/study group."
(Compl. at 7, 12.)
Claim Two: Defendants' actions violated the Establishment
Clause of the First Amendment because they "accommodated
Christians [and] refused to do so for any other religious
groups[, ] [and] [t]hat is a clear endorsement of [and]
encouragement to practice their brand of Christianity."
(Id. at 12-13.)
Claim Three: Defendants violated Reese's Fourteenth
Amendment right to equal protection when they upheld
Chaplain McCoy's "refusal to accommodate
Wiccan/Pagan religion in the same way he did [for] followers
of [Christianity]." (Id. at 13.)
Claim Four: Defendants placed a substantial burden on
Reese's exercise of his religion in violation of the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
("RLUIPA") when they informed Reese that he
"must provide [his] own volunteers to supervise, lead
[and] set up off housing unit religious services for
'safety [and] security reasons.'" (Id.
seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief. (Id.
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)). A mere "scintilla of
evidence," however, 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 their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants
submitted the affidavit of Deputy Superintendent Wright
("Wright Aff.," ECF No. 30-1). Reese filed a
Response. (ECF No. 38.) Reese also submitted copies of his
inmate request forms (ECF Nos. 38-2, 38-3, 38-9), and
affidavits from several inmates (ECF Nos. 38-1, 38-4, 38-5,
38-6, 38-7, 38-8, 38-10). None of the affidavits are truly
sworn to under penalty of perjury, and although one of the
affidavits is notarized (ECF No. 38-1), the notary did not
administer an oath. Furthermore, Reese did not sign his
Complaint under the penalty of perjury. (See Compl.
19.) As such, Reese has put forth no evidence in support of
light of the foregoing submissions and principles, the
following facts are established for purposes of the Motion
for Summary Judgment. The Court ...