Prisoner Suit against Salt River Corrections Dismissed

Here are the materials in Loring v. Daly (D. Ariz.):

1 Complaint

31 Tribe Motion to Dismiss

39 Response

40 Reply

45 DCT Order

Federal Court Dismisses Muscogee (Creek) Nation Suit against Poarch Band Creek over Hickory Ground

Here are the materials in Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Poarch Band of Creek Indians (M.D. Ala.):

190 Second Amended Complaint

200 Federal Motion to Dismiss

202 Tribal Defendants Motion to Dismiss

205 Individual Defendants Motion to Dismiss

210 Response to 200

211 Response to to 205

212 Response to 202

216 Reply in Support of 200

217 Reply in Support of 202

218 Reply in Support o 205

223 DCT Order

Prior posts here.

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


SCOTUS GVRs Knight v. Thompson — A Native Prisoner Matter — in Light of Holt v. Hobbs

Here is the order.

BTW, a GVR stands for “grant vacate remand.” It usually means, as I believe it does here, that the Supreme Court has decided a matter that will affect the disposition of another matter pending before the Court at the time. Here, the Court granted cert to review Holt v. Hobbs. and decided that matter last week. Also pending was a cert petition in Knight v. Thompson involving a challenge by a Native prisoner to his warden’s order to cut his hair. the Court held the Native petition while it decided the other petition, which involved a Muslim man’s challenge to his warden’s order to shave his beard.

Now the Knight case will return to the Eleventh Circuit where the court will review the case in light of the decision in Holt.

NARF: “The impact of Holt v. Hobbs on Native American inmates”

Here. An excerpt:

Holt holds that this approach is wrong.  Much like Knight, the Arkansas prison officials in Holtfeared safety and security issues and ignored the successful measures taken by the vast majority of prison systems to safely accommodate religious beards.  The Holt opinion makes clear that these successful, widespread accommodations are indeed relevant and indicate that Arkansas was not utilizing the “least restrictive means.”  Additionally, the Supreme Court emphasized that judges cannot simply defer to the opinions of prison officials as a means of practicing “unquestioning acceptance,” thereby abdicating judicial responsibility to apply RLUIPA’s very rigorous standard.  Courts must demand persuasive proof that denial of an exemption to a specific person is the least restrictive means of furthering compelling penological interests.  Like the prison officials in Holt, the officials in Knight failed to meet this standard, and the court applied an unquestioning acceptance of their opinions.  It is an error that has plagued the cases of several Native American inmates through several decades of litigation, and we believe that Holt provides the clarity necessary to remedy this persistent issue.

The Holt opinion changes a fundamental aspect of how certain prison systems deal with Native Americans and their religious practices.  For those Natives who reside in the darkest corners of U.S. penal systems, it is no longer the rule that they cannot engage in their traditional religious practices merely because their jailors say so.  Courts will demand more, just as Congress intended when it enacted RLUIPA.

Sixth Circuit Rules in Favor of Native Prisoners in RLUIPA Matter

Here are the materials in Haight v. Thompson:

Appellant Brief

Appellant Letter Brief

Appellee Brief

Appellee Letter Brief

CA6 Opinion

An excerpt:

The appeal presents three questions: (1) Is there a triable issue of fact over whether RLUIPA gives the inmates a right to have access to a sweat lodge for faith-based  ceremonies? (2) Is there a triable issue of fact over whether RLUIPA gives the inmates a right to buffalo meat and other traditional foods for a faith-based once-a-year powwow? (3) Does RLUIPA permit inmates to collect money damages from prison officials sued in their individual capacities? The answers, as we explain below, are yes, yes and no.

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.