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.

LeBaron v. O'Brien

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Worcester

June 14, 2016

Nathan LeBaron et al. [1]
v.
Carol Higgins O'Brien, Commissioner, Department of Correction et al. [2] No. 134810

          June 15, 2016, Filed

          OMNIBUS MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ET AL.

          Hon. Shannon Frison, Justice

         INTRODUCTION

         The Court is here tasked with demarcating the scope of the freedom of free exercise of religion within the confines of the Massachusetts prison system. The plaintiffs, all inmates incarcerated at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk (" MCI-Norfolk")[3] and members of the Church of the Firstborn Kahal Hab'Cor (the " CFB"), petition the Court, pro se, for several forms of relief from perceived violations of their rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (" RLUIPA"), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by the defendants, officials of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (the " DOC").

         Foremost among the plaintiffs' motions is a motion for summary judgment on all counts of the First Amended Complaint (the " complaint"). Also before the Court are several motions for temporary restraining orders (" TROs") and a host of other miscellaneous motions. The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and a cross motion for summary judgment. The Court's disposition on these motions is listed in its omnibus ORDER, infra .

         BACKGROUND [4]

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff Nathan Marquis LeBaron (" Plaintiff LeBaron") filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, seeking several forms of relief for alleged violations of his free exercise of religion. See LeBaron v. Spencer, 527 Fed.Appx. 25, 27 (1st Cir. 2013). The district court granted summary judgment to the prison defendants, [5] mistakenly believing that the parties had settled Plaintiff LeBaron's claims. Id. The case was heard by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which, on July 22, 2013, ruled that Plaintiff LeBaron's retaliation, equal protection, and conspiracy claims were nevertheless without merit. However, the First Circuit remanded summary judgment for Plaintiff LeBaron's claims under RLUIPA and the First Amendment because questions of fact remained unanswered. Id. These claims concerned the defendants' refusal to provide a synagogue for daily prayer, the ability to engage in group prayer, access to a kosher diet, and certain religious materials. Id. at 29. Following the First Circuit's decision, Plaintiff LeBaron opted to file a new lawsuit in this Court. Paper #100, Ex. 2, p. 2. Other inmates, alleging the same violations, expressed interest in joining the renewed claim.

         Several developments materialized in the time between the First Circuit's decision and the instant action, filed on February 27, 2015. The significant events included: Carol Higgins O'Brien replaced Luis Spencer as the commissioner of the DOC; Plaintiff LeBaron formed the CFB, and filed Articles of Organization with the Secretary of the Commonwealth pursuant to G.L.c. 180; and the CFB was certified and recognized as an official religious organization in the Commonwealth on November 7, 2013. As time passed, a growing number of inmates joined the CFB. Plaintiff LeBaron appointed himself the CFB president, as well as " Chief Judge" of the church's " Beit Din" (religious court). Similarly, he appointed other inmates to act as church officers.

         Initially, five plaintiffs filed the first complaint. See Paper #1. Ultimately, many additional inmates joined, and the Court allowed a motion to list all current CFB members on the docket. See Paper #66. There are now forty-five plaintiffs.

         II. Basis of the Complaint

         The CFB adheres, in large part, to the precepts of Messianic Judaism, which " is a hybrid religion that includes both Christian and Jewish culture and laws and [differs from] Orthodox Judaism . . . on a few technical points[.]" Paper #140.1, Ex. 1, Attachment 1. Its mission includes administering the ministry of " Yeshua" to the imprisoned. Religious practices include: daily attendance to a Messianic synagogue; liturgical prayer; study of Scripture and the Hebrew language; observance of the Shabbat (Sabbath day) and other holy days; adherence to a special religious diet (the " Holy Diet"), and obedience to local " halacha" (religious law).

         An inmate seeking a religious accommodation must submit a " religious services request" to the DOC Religious Service Review Committee (the " RSRC"). The RSRC is comprised of the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner of Classification, and the Director of Program Services, and makes global assessments of security concerns that might arise at the prisons if the DOC permits a new religious practice, use of a religious item, or participation in a religious feast. The RSRC reviews religious service requests and then makes a formal recommendation to the Commissioner of Correction (" Commissioner"). The plaintiffs submitted numerous religious services requests, primarily concerning access to a Messianic Judaism synagogue, the Holy Diet, and observance of holy days. The Commissioner approved many of the plaintiffs' requests for access to a kosher diet, but denied their Holy Diet requests. The Commissioner also denied the plaintiffs' request for synagogue space and certain religious items pending location of a Messianic Jewish volunteer to lead the inmates in corporate worship.

         Plaintiff LeBaron submitted another religious services request seeking appointment of the Catholic chaplain of the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center (" SBCC") as the chaplain for the Messianic Jewish inmates at MCI-Norfolk. The Commissioner denied this request because the chaplain could not assume additional responsibilities on top of his full-time schedule.

         Plaintiff LeBaron submitted an additional religious services request for forty-four religious items and books necessary for a Messianic synagogue, creation of a ritual bath known as a mikva, over one hundred different types of food items, and construction of a garden for Messianic Jewish inmates to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. The Commissioner also denied these requests.

         On December 18, 2015, the Court heard arguments on the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and the defendants' motions to dismiss and for summary judgment. The Court took these motions under advisement. While these motions and several of the plaintiffs' motions for TROs remained pending, the plaintiffs submitted several other motions. These motions are discussed throughout the Court's discussion. Additional relevant facts are set out in the discussion below, as needed.

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         I. Summary Judgment [6]

          When reviewing cross motions for summary judgment, the Court must assess each motion on its own merits. See Federal Ins. C. v. Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Ins. Group, 415 F.3d 487, 493 (6th Cir. 2005). The fact that both parties have filed motions for summary judgment " does not necessarily mean that an award of summary judgment is appropriate." Beck v. City of Cleveland, 390 F.3d 912, 917 (6th Cir. 2004).

          Under Mass.R.Civ.P. 56(c), either the plaintiffs or the defendants will be entitled to summary judgment if they can show that no dispute exists as to any material fact and they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Cassesso v. Commissioner of Corr., 390 Mass. 419, 422, 456 N.E.2d 1123 (1983). Either party may satisfy its burden of demonstrating the absence of triable issues by submitting affirmative evidence demonstrating entitlement to relief (or the opposing party's lack of entitlement), or by demonstrating that the opposing party has no reasonable expectation of proving an essential element of their case. Flesner v. Tech. Comm. Corp., 410 Mass. 805, 809, 575 N.E.2d 1107 (1991). If one party establishes the absence of a triable issue, the other party must demonstrate, through admissible evidence, an issue of material fact to defeat summary judgment. Godbout v. Cousens, 396 Mass. 254, 261, 485 N.E.2d 940 (1985). Neither party may rest on conclusory statements or bare assertions in opposing a motion for summary judgment. LaBrecque v. Parsons, 74 Mass.App.Ct. 766, 768, 910 N.E.2d 947 (2009). The Court's function is to peer beyond the formal allegations and determine whether further exploration of the facts is necessary. Quincy Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Abernathy, 393 Mass. 81, 87, 469 N.E.2d 797 (1984).

         II. Temporary Restraining Order

         The Court considers, simultaneously with the cross motions for summary judgment, several motions for TROs. In order for the plaintiffs to succeed on these motions, they must show " (1) a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) that irreparable harm will result from denial of the injunction; and (3) that in light of the plaintiffs' likelihood of success on the merits, the risk of irreparable harm to the plaintiff outweighs the potential harm to the defendant[s] in granting the injunction." Tri-Nel Mgmt., Inc. v. Board of Health of Barnstable, 433 Mass. 217, 219, 741 N.E.2d 37 (2001). " When, as here, a party seeks to enjoin governmental action, the [C]ourt also considers whether the relief sought will adversely affect the public." Id., citing Commonwealth v. Massachusetts CRINC, 392 Mass. 79, 89, 466 N.E.2d 792 (1984). The Court will not grant this " significant remedy . . . unless the plaintiffs have made a clear showing of entitlement thereto." Student No. 9 v. Board of Educ., 440 Mass. 752, 762, 802 N.E.2d 105 (2004).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         Before it reaches the merits of the plaintiffs' claims, the Court considers the defendants' argument that Plaintiffs Costa, Eisenman, and Serrano are barred from seeking relief in this Court under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (" PLRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), and G.L.c. 127, § 38F, which require an inmate to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing an action in state or federal court.[7] Maraglia v. Maloney, 365 F.Supp.2d 76, 80-82 & n.5 (D.Mass. 2005). See also Medina-Claudio v. Rodriguez-Mateo, 292 F.3d 31, 36 (1st Cir. 2002) (rejecting argument that PLRA allows proceedings to continue while prisoner completes exhaustion).

         The Court is in receipt of a motion by the plaintiffs to deem that all members of the CFB have exhausted their administrative remedies. The Court denies this motion. In support of this motion, the plaintiffs submit a supporting affidavit which states that " all CFB Members, respectively, hereby depose" that " almost every CFB Member has submitted an Inmate Services Request Form . . ." Id. (emphasis added). The Court cannot approve the plaintiffs' motion to declare that all plaintiffs have exhausted their administrative remedies where the plaintiffs readily admit that some have not. See Ford v. Clarke, 2011 WL 3816798, *17 (D.Mass. 2011). Moreover, the affidavit is only signed by Plaintiff LeBaron.

         However, the PLRA's exhaustion requirement is an affirmative defense. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216, 127 S.Ct. 910, 166 L.Ed.2d 798 (2007). Thus, the burden of establishing non-exhaustion is borne by the defendants. See id. ; Casanova v. Dubois, 304 F.3d 75, 77-78 n.3 (1st Cir. 2002). None of the plaintiffs were required to specifically plead or demonstrate exhaustion in the complaint. Jones, 549 U.S. at 216. The only evidence of non-exhaustion cited by the defendants is the May 21, 2015 affidavit of Defendant Christopher Mitchell, Director of Program Services for the DOC (" Defendant Mitchell"), which states that Plaintiffs Marco Costa, Brad Eisenman, and Peter Serrano did not submit any religious service requests to RSRC. The defendants did not present documentary evidence that these plaintiffs, or any other plaintiffs, failed to pursue their administrative remedies by the date the amended complaint was filed on June 9, 2015. The defendants' reliance on the Mitchell affidavit, without documentation of the named plaintiffs' failure to exhaust administrative remedies, is determinative. See Caldwell v. Folino, (W.D.Penn. 2011) (reliance on affidavit of prison official broadly stating that plaintiff never filed a timely grievance insufficient to meet burden of demonstrating failure to exhaust administrative remedies). The Court is therefore entitled to proceed with an analysis of the merits of this case. See e.g., Ford, 2011 WL 3816798 at *17. The defendants' cross motion for summary judgment as against Plaintiffs Costa, Eisenman, and Serano on this basis is denied.[8]

         II. RLUIPA Claims [9]

         " RLUIPA protects institutionalized persons who are unable to freely attend to their religious needs and are therefore dependent on the government's permission and accommodation for exercise of their religion, " McGee v. O'Brien, 160 F.Supp.3d 407, (D.Mass. 2016), quoting Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 721, 125 S.Ct. 2113, 161 L.Ed.2d 1020 (2005), and provides, in pertinent part:

No government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution, as defined in section 2 of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. [§ ]1997), even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the government demonstrates that the imposition of the burden on that person (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). To prevail on their RLUIPA claims, the plaintiffs must first establish that the defendants burdened their religious exercise and that the burden was " substantial." See Spratt v. Rhode Island Dept. of Corrs., 482 F.3d 33, 38 (1st Cir. 2007). If the plaintiffs meet their burden, the burden will shift to the defendants to demonstrate that the burden imposed on the plaintiffs furthers a " compelling governmental interest" and that it is the " least restrictive means" of doing so. Id. The Court, in employing this burden-shifting standard, affords due deference to the defendants' experience as prison administrators in their role establishing regulations and procedures aimed at fostering order, security, and discipline. Further, the Court remains mindful of the defendants' limited resources. See Cutter, 544 U.S. at 723.

         RLUIPA does not define the term " substantial burden." The United States Supreme Court has said that a burden is " substantial" if it puts " substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs, " Thomas v. Review Bd. of Indiana Empl. Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707, 101 S.Ct. 1425, 67 L.Ed.2d 624 (1981), or " coerce[s] him into acting contrary to his religious beliefs." Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Ass'n, 485 U.S. 439, 450, 108 S.Ct. 1319, 99 L.Ed.2d 534 (1988). When assessing whether a burden on a particular religious exercise is substantial, the Court does not consider whether a RLUIPA claimant is able to engage in alternative forms of religious exercise; its focus remains on whether the burden on the specific exercise at issue is substantial. Trapp v. Roden, 473 Mass. 210, 215, 41 N.E.3d 1 (2015), quoting Holt v. Hobbs, 135 S.Ct. 853, 862, 190 L.Ed.2d 747 (2015).

          With respect to what government interests are " compelling, " courts make such determinations on a case-by-case basis. In the prison context, " [a] prison's interest in order and security is always compelling." Blake v. Howard, n.16, 26 Mass.L.Rptr. 335 (2009), citing Spratt, 482 F.3d at 39 (" [D]eference is due to institutional officials' expertise in this area"). See also Hudson v. Dennehy, 538 F.Supp.2d 400, 409 (D.Mass. 2008) (" RLUIPA should be applied with particular sensitivity when security concerns are legitimately at issue"). However, " merely stating that there is a compelling interest does not fully satisfy the government's burden on this element of RLUIPA." Blake, Id. n.16, 26 Mass.L.Rptr. 335, quoting Spratt, 482 F.3d at 39.

          To prove that they employed the " least restrictive means" of burdening the plaintiffs' religious exercise in each instance, the defendants must show that they " lack[ ] other means of achieving [their] desired goal without [placing] a substantial burden" on the religious exercise. Cruz v. Collins, 46 N.E.3d 114, 89 Mass.App.Ct. 1108 (2016) (Rule 1:28). " A prison cannot meet its burden to prove least restrictive means unless it demonstrates that it has actually considered and rejected the efficacy of less restrictive measures before adopting the challenged practice." Trapp, 473 Mass. at 218, quoting Spratt, 482 F.3d at 41. The defendants cannot rely on conclusory statements that they employed the least restrictive means of achieving their interests " among available, effective alternatives." Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 542 U.S. 656, 666, 124 S.Ct. 2783, 159 L.Ed.2d 690 (2004). " The least-restrictive-means standard is exceptionally demanding[.]" Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2751, 2780, 189 L.Ed.2d 675 (2014). In fact, " [r]equiring a State to demonstrate . . . that it has adopted the least restrictive means of achieving [a compelling] interest is the most demanding test known to constitutional law." City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507, 534, 117 S.Ct. 2157, 138 L.Ed.2d 624 (1997).

         The Court's analysis, guided by this well-developed burden-shifting standard, will proceed as to each religious exercise. The plaintiffs' claims are predicated on the DOC's prohibition of the following religious exercises: (1) worship in a Messianic synagogue; (2) participation in inmate-led group worship; (3) access to the Holy Diet; (4) observance of several holy days; and (5) access to books and other religious materials appurtenant to Messianic worship.

         A. Messianic Synagogue

         The plaintiffs aver that the lack of access to a designated space to pray and congregate substantially burdens the practice of the CFB faith. Conversely, the defendants posit that the burden is not substantial because inmates are allowed to engage in prayer, religious study, and read Scripture in their cells. The complaint claims that prayer and study in the cells is plagued by distractions, making such religious practice impractical. The plaintiffs profess that daily " Messianic Synagogue attendance is essential to meet CFB religious discipleship requirements of central significance to the religious exercise of CFB Members."

         " Since [the plaintiffs are] completely barred from praying in a Messianic Synagogue, an exercise that [they] sincerely believe[ ] is necessary for the practice of [their] religion, it is arguable that [they] ha[ve] been forced to 'modify [their] behavior and to violate [their] beliefs.'" LeBaron v. Spencer, 527 Fed.Appx. 25, 29 (1st Cir. 2013), quoting Spratt, 482 F.3d at 38. See also Farrow v. Stanley, (D.N.H. 2004) (finding that prison's refusal to provide a sweat lodge imposed a substantial burden on the plaintiff's religion where use of such a lodge was established as a widely practiced Native American religious exercise). The defendants cite each inmate's ability to pray and study in their respective cells as proof that their religious exercise is not substantially burdened. They do so without addressing the plaintiffs' contention that gathering for prayer in a Messianic synagogue is a central tenant of the CFB faith. The plaintiffs have met their burden of showing that the defendants' denial of a Messianic synagogue substantially burdens their religious exercise.

         Claiming a compelling governmental interest, the defendants maintain that the other religious and secular programs available to inmates make it impossible to accommodate the plaintiffs' requests without infringing on the space available to other inmate groups. The prison also lacks the financial resources to construct a Messianic synagogue on the grounds of the prison. See Paper #140.1, Ex. 6, ¶ 13.

          A host of cases repeatedly emphasize that prison officials' interests in effective and cost-efficient administration of their facilities are compelling. See e.g., Cutter, 544 U.S. at 723 (" due deference [must be afforded] to the experience and expertise of prison and jail administrators in establishing necessary regulations and procedures to maintain good order, security and discipline, consistent with consideration of costs and limited resources"; Sossamon v. Lone Star State of Tex., 560 F.3d 316, 332 (5th Cir. 2009) (" Effective and affordable prison security at the chapel is a compelling governmental interest"); Baranowski v. Hart, 486 F.3d 112, 125 (5th Cir. 2007) (holding that policy " related to maintaining good order and controlling costs" serves compelling governmental interest). However, " cost alone is [not] an absolute defense to an otherwise meritorious RLUIPA claim." Holt, 135 S.Ct. at 867 (Sotomayor, J., concurring). See 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-3(c). Nevertheless, the logistical and practical administrative concerns cited by the defendants related to affording the plaintiffs a designated Messianic synagogue are significant. The Court, affording the requisite deference to the defendants, finds that the defendants have a compelling interest in an effective resource allocation. See Cutter, 544 U.S. at 723.

         The defendants bear the burden of demonstrating that they considered less restrictive alternatives. Washington v. Klein, 497 F.3d 272, 284 (3rd Cir. 2007); Willis v. Commissioner, Ind. Dept. of Corr., 753 F.Supp.2d 768, 779-80 (S.D.Ind. 2010). To support their position, the defendants only produced the affidavit of Sean Medeiros, Superintendent of MCI-Norfolk, which states that MCI-Norfolk cannot designate a room in one of its program buildings for the sole purpose of housing a Messianic synagogue. It claims that the DOC is left with only one less restrictive alternative to a complete ban on group religious practice--a policy permitting group worship only when a Messianic Judaism volunteer is available.

         " Although it is not their burden, [the plaintiffs] have provided a . . . less restrictive alternative[ ] that DOC could . . . exercise[ ], or attempt[ ] to exercise." Willis, 753 F.Supp.2d at 779-80. Specifically, the plaintiffs counter that there are empty classrooms in two program buildings that could be designated as synagogue space. They also claim that an empty and unused room in the " CSD building" previously used for urine testing would accommodate a synagogue. See First Amended Complaint, ¶ ¶ 80-81. These averments contradict the defendants' assertions and create a dispute of material fact whether the defendants have employed the least restrictive means in denying the plaintiffs a designated worship space. Although the defendants have presented an affidavit that states that the prison does not have the space to accommodate a designated synagogue, in the absence of supporting evidence, the affidavit is conclusory and does not suffice to dissolve the question of fact the plaintiffs' assertions create. See Beerheide v. Suthers, 286 F.3d 1179, 1189 (10th Cir. 2002) ([W]hile [courts must] defer to the expertise of prison officials, that deference is not absolute. In order to warrant deference, prison officials must present credible evidence to support their stated penological goals") (emphasis in original); Lovelace v. Lee, 472 F.3d 174, 192 (4th Cir. 2006) (" There is no basis in this case for a court to . . . declare the least restrictive means test satisfied without any substantive explanation from prison officials"). " Where a prisoner challenges the prison's justification, prison officials must set forth detailed evidence, tailored to the situation before the court, that identifies the failings in the alternatives advanced by the prisoner." Warsoldier v. Woodford, 418 F.3d 989, 1000 (9th Cir. 2005), quoting May v. Baldwin, 109 F.3d 557 564-65 (9th Cir. 1997) (emphasis in original). The defendants have not satisfied this evidentiary showing. Summary judgment for the defendants is therefore denied.

         This does not entitle the plaintiffs to summary judgment on this claim, however. There exists a question of fact as to whether there are means available to the defendants less restrictive than the total preclusion of group worship for CFB members. The plaintiffs have not presented unrebutted evidence that there are less restrictive means available to the defendants to protect their compelling interests. In the absence of such evidence, a factfinder is entitled to disbelieve the plaintiffs' rebuttal of the defendants' argument that their existing policies are the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest. See LaPlante v. Massachusetts Dept. of Corr., 89 F.Supp.3d 235, 247 (D.Mass. 2015). " Thus, both [the plaintiffs'] and the [d]efendants' motions for summary judgment are denied . . ." Id. See also Murphy v. Missouri Dept. of Corr., 372 F.3d 979, 989 (8th Cir. 2004).

         Finally, as to this issue, the plaintiffs petition the Court for a TRO to require the defendants to provide space for use as a Messianic synagogue while this action proceeds. See Paper #141 and 142. Entitlement to such an order requires the plaintiffs to demonstrate the elements for a restraining order set out above (i.e., a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, a risk of irreparable harm, demonstration that the balance of each party's respective hardships tips in their favor, and some showing that the order will not adversely affect the public). Tri-Nel, 433 Mass. at 219.

          In the context of claims made under RLUIPA, a plaintiff need only establish that the defendant substantially burdened their religious exercise in order to satisfy the " likelihood of success" requirement. Kikumura v. Hurley, 242 F.3d 950, 961 (10th Cir. 2001). The plaintiff has done so with respect to the claim for a synagogue. The implication of constitutional rights in the plaintiffs' claims is sufficient to fulfill the irreparable harm requirement. See Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373, 96 S.Ct. 2673, 49 L.Ed.2d 547 (1976) (" The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitute irreparable injury"); Jolly v. Coughlin, 76 F.3d 468, 482 (2nd Cir. 1996) (irreparable harm requirement satisfied when constitutional rights are implied in the analysis).

         Ultimately, however, the Court does not believe that a TRO is appropriate where the balance of equities tips in the defendants' favor in light of the " wide ranging deference" afforded to prison officials in the administration of their facilities. Wetzel v. Edwards, 635 F.2d 283, 288 (4th Cir. 1980); Cryer v. Clarke, 2012 WL 6800791, *16 (D.Mass. 2012). At trial, the defendants will have the burden of showing that their denial of designated synagogue space was the least restrictive means of accomplishing their compelling interests, but at this juncture, deference to the defendants' resource concerns tip the balance of hardships in the defendants' favor. See id. Moreover, with respect to the fourth element, the public interest is better served when prisons are run efficiently and run by prison officials, not courts. See Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 85, 107 S.Ct. 2254, 96 L.Ed.2d 64 (1987). The plaintiffs' motion for a TRO establishing such a synagogue at MCI-Norfolk, Paper #141, is denied.

         B. Group Prayer

         The plaintiffs allege two substantial burdens on the plaintiffs' religious exercise with respect to group prayer. First, the defendants prohibit inmates from proselytizing religion to other inmates. Second, the defendants have failed to locate a Messianic Jewish volunteer to lead members of the CFB in worship.

         1. Inmate-Led Worship

         The Court believes that the plaintiffs have demonstrated that these burdens on their religious exercise are substantial. The practice of teaching and leading in prayer is central to the exercise of faith in the CFB. First Amended Complaint, ¶ 85. Members are required to attend synagogue and " partake of daily ritual communion[.]" Id., ¶ 86. The Court reemphasizes its holding that the plaintiffs' ability to conduct individual, in-cell prayer and study does not render the prohibition on group prayer insubstantial where assembly of all religious members to one place for worship is a central tenant of the faith. See Crawford v. Clarke, 578 F.3d 39, 43-44 (1st Cir. 2009) (finding bar on weekly " Jum'ah" group prayer substantial where such practice was ...


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.