Eighth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Shakopee Tribal Member’s Prisoner Rights Claim

Here is the opinion in Brooks v. Roy.

An excerpt:

According to Brooks, he was placed into a 12-step program at New Dimensions because there is no alternative program at MCF-Faribault for those of a Native American faith. He says that the program “conflicts with his Native American religious faith” because it forces him to “profess beliefs that are inconsistent with his faith, which he does not wish to do.” Brooks does not, however, specify his religion or allege which principles of his religion are compromised or unaccommodated at MCF-Faribault. Instead, he requests to participate in what he asserts is a culturally appropriate treatment program available at the Mash-ka-wisen treatment center in Sawyer, Minnesota, which is 191 miles north of MCF-Faribault. Brooks says the defendants denied his request, and he appealed their decision until, he alleges, he had exhausted his administrative remedies.


Appellant Brief

Appellee Brief

Reply Brief


Eighth Circuit Affirms Injunction against South Dakota Ban on Native Prisoner Tobacco Use

Here is the opinion in Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber. An excerpt:

In this appeal, we consider the South Dakota Department of Corrections’ (“SDDOC”) decision to prohibit tobacco use by Native American inmates during religious activities. In 2009, the Native American Council of Tribes (“NACT”) and South Dakota Native American inmates Blaine Brings Plenty and Clayton Creek (collectively “inmates”) brought suit against 1 prison officials from the SDDOC (collectively “defendants”)2 claiming that the tobacco ban substantially burdened the exercise of their religious beliefs in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). After a three-day bench trial, the district court granted 3 injunctive relief to the inmates and directed the parties confer regarding a revised tobacco policy. On failure to agree, the district court entered a remedial order that, among other things, limited the proportion of tobacco in the mixture distributed to inmates for religious purposes to no more than one percent. The defendants appeal the grant of injunctive relief, including the remedial order. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.

Briefs here:

South Dakota Opening Brief

Native American Council Brief

US Amicus Brief

South Dakota Reply Brief

Lower court materials are here and here.

Other posts are here, here, and here.


Update in South Dakota Prisoner Litigation– No Stay on Appeal and Attorney Fees Award

Here are the new materials in Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber (D. S.D.):

DCT Order on Stay and Attorney Fees

Prior materials are here, here, here, and here.

Remedial Order re: South Dakota Prison Ban on Tobacco

The case, once again, is Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber (D. S.D.):

DCT Remedial Order

The court previously issued an order explaining how the ban violates federal religious freedom rights here.

Since the prison system could not agree with the prisoners on a way to craft an injunction, Judge Schreier simply issued an order stating, “[D]efendants are enjoined from banning tobacco used during Native American religious ceremonies.”


South Dakota American Indian Prisoners Prove State Ban on Tobacco Violates Religious Freedom Rights

Here are the materials in Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber (D. S.D.):

Plaintiffs’ Post-Trial Brief

South Dakota Post-Trial Brief

Plaintiffs’ Post-Trial Reply

US Statement of Interest

South Dakota Response to US

DCT Order Finding Violation

Earlier materials on this case were here.

DOJ Joins Plaintiffs in Challenge to South Dakota Ban on Indian Prisoner Use of Tobacco

Here is that brief:

US Statement of Interest

The parties’ initial post-trial briefs are here:

Brings Plenty Post-Trial Brief

South Dakota Post-Trial Brief

Our prior post is here.

News coverage (h/t A.E.).

Government Summary Judgment Motion Denied in Challenge to S. Dakota Prison Ban on Tobacco

Here is the opinion in Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber (D. S.D.):

NA Council of Tribes v Weber

Summary judgment is denied on plaintiffs’ RLUIPA claim because genuine issues of material fact exist on whether defendants’ October 2009 policy substantially burdens plaintiffs’ religious exercise. Summary judgment is also denied on plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment claims because defendants offer no argument as to why summary judgment is appropriate on those claims. Summary judgment is granted on the AIRFA claim because AIRFA does not create an independent cause of action. Summary judgment is also granted on plaintiffs’ international law claims because the customary law claim is vague, the genocide claim lacks a factual basis, and the United Nations Charter claim does not create an individual cause of action.

Federal Magistrate Judge Recused from American Indian Religious Freedom Case

The case is United States v. Baca, out of the Eastern District of California. The defendant, Baca, is being charged by the federal government for filming on government property without a permit and trespassing on a cultural resource. He was filming a tribal ceremony at Yosemite (Yosemite Big Time). He was convicted in a bench trial before a federal magistrate, but the district court vacated the conviction on the grounds that the magistrate should have recused himself for bias. Apparently, the judge has a hangman’s noose in his office, prominently featured in a local newspaper article.

It’ll be interesting to see how Baca’s defense (religious freedom, assertion that he is a religious leader, etc.) will play out in the next trial….