Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Walker v. Beard

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 18, 2015

DENNIS WALKER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
JEFFREY BEARD [*], CDCR Secretary and KATHLEEN DICKERSON, Warden, CMF Prison, Defendants-Appellees

Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California February 10, 2015

Page 1126

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1127

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1128

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1129

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. DC No. 2:11-cv- 2728 KJM-GGH. Kimberly J. Mueller, District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY [**]

Prisoner Civil Rights

The panel affirmed the district court's ruling that California's refusal to exempt a state prisoner from its Integral Housing Policy did not violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act or the First Amendment.

The plaintiff prisoner is an Aryan Christian Odinist who challenged the State's classification of him as eligible to occupy a prison cell with an individual of a different race, alleging that such a placement would interfere with his religious practice, the " warding ritual."

The panel held that the prisoner's challenge to his classification as racially eligible (allowing the prison to place him in a cell with an individual of a different race) was not moot even though he had transferred prisons because he remains in State custody, classified as racially eligible. The panel also held that the prisoner was not barred from arguing on appeal that the State improperly burdened his ability to perform the Odinist warding ritual.

The panel held that the prisoner successfully alleged a burden on his religious exercise under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the First Amendment, but the State had a compelling interest in avoiding unconstitutional racial discrimination, and subjecting the prisoner to integrated celling was the only possible means of furthering that interest. The panel concluded that the prisoner failed to state a claim under the Act and the First Amendment. The panel further concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the prisoner leave to amend.

Elliot Wong (argued), San Francisco, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California, Jonathan L. Wolff, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Thomas S. Patterson, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Jose A. Zelidon-Zepeda (argued), Deputy Attorney General, San Francisco, California, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: Sidney R. Thomas, Chief Judge, A. Wallace Tashima and M. Margaret McKeown, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Tashima.

OPINION

Page 1130

TASHIMA, Circuit Judge

Dennis Walker is a devout racist. He is an Aryan Christian Odinist incarcerated in a California state prison. The Odinist religion forbids adherents from integrating with members of races other than their own and requires the performance of rituals that may not be conducted in the presence of non-" Aryan" individuals. Walker challenges the State's classification of him as eligible to occupy a prison cell with an individual of a different race, alleging that such a placement would interfere with his religious practice. He appeals the district court's ruling that the State's refusal to exempt him from its Integrated Housing Policy (the " Housing Policy" ) did not violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (" RLUIPA" ), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq., or the First Amendment. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We conclude that the State has a compelling interest in avoiding invidious racial discrimination and potential liability under the Equal Protection Clause, and the only way for the State to satisfy this interest was to reject Walker's request for an exemption from the Housing Policy. We affirm.

I.

According to Walker, Odinism, the religion to which he adheres, calls on its followers to preserve the purity of the Aryan race.[1] To that end, Odinists are forbidden from interacting with individuals of other races. Seeking to follow his religious dictates, Walker requested that he be celled with an Aryan individual. The state rejected the request. Pursuant to the Housing Policy, Walker was classified as " racially eligible," allowing the prison to place him in a cell with an individual of a different race.

The Housing Policy provides for prisoners to be classified into one of five categories, including racially eligible and " restricted to own," meaning ineligible to be placed in a multi-race cell. There is a strong presumption in favor of racially eligible

Page 1131

status. Under that policy, an inmate's race may not be a " primary determining factor" in determining his housing classification. Prison officials may, however, consider certain race-related factors when classifying inmates, such as the prisoner's history of perpetrating or being victimized by racial violence. A prisoner classified as racially eligible who refuses to accept a cellmate of another race is not forced to accept integration, but rather is categorized as " restricted by refusal" and subjected to disciplinary action. Following his classification as racially eligible, the prison assigned Walker a non-white cellmate and Walker refused the assignment. As discipline, the prison placed him in administrative segregation.

Walker commenced this action pro se against Matthew Cate, then-Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Kathleen Dickerson, the warden of the prison in which he was then housed (together " Defendants" or the " State" ).[2] He seeks damages and injunctive relief for a variety of statutory and constitutional claims, including claims under RLUIPA, and the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Although inartfully drafted, the complaint alleges that the State's classification of Walker as racially eligible under the Housing ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.