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Newsome v. Fairley

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

August 3, 2018

ANTHONY MELVIN NEWSOME PLAINTIFF
v.
BOBBY FAIRLEY, et al. DEFENDANTS

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOHN C. GARGIULO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         BEFORE THE COURT are two Motions (ECF Nos. 10 & 11) for Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions filed by Plaintiff Anthony Newsome. Newsome seeks a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to acknowledge his belief system and ensure he receives religious accommodations (ECF No. 10). He also seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to provide an adequate law library and to locate and produce his civil action complaint (ECF No. 11). Having considered the submissions by the parties, the record, and relevant legal authority, the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge recommends that the Plaintiff's Motions for Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Newsome is a postconviction inmate in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), currently housed at the South Mississippi Correctional Institute (SMCI) in Leakesville, Mississippi. However, this case relates to events that allegedly occurred while Newsome was housed at the George County Regional Correctional Facility (ECF No. 5). He filed an initial complaint in the Circuit Court of Greene County, Mississippi on August 30, 2017 (ECF No. 1-1). The Defendants removed this case on October 4, 2017 (ECF No. 1), and filed an answer on October 17, 2017 (ECF No. 4). Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint on October 19, 2017 (ECF No. 5). He is seeking declaratory relief and compensatory and punitive damages from the following Defendants: Bobby Fairley, Warden at George County; Terry Rogers, Facility Administrative Assistant and “Inmate Legal Assistant Program Designee” at George County; Eric Richard, Chaplain at George County; Gia McLeod, Inmate Legal Assistance Program (ILAP) Director for the MDOC; and Eugene Wigglesworth, Chaplaincy Department Director for the MDOC (ECF No. 5).

         Newsome makes three claims. First, he contends that he was denied religious accommodations in violation of the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Newsome states that he is a member of the Natsarim Faith, [1] and therefore needed to celebrate Passover with a yeast free diet and participate in an immersion baptism. He contends that these requests were denied and that he was denied religious counseling. Second, Newsome contends that his right to access the courts was denied due to the inadequate law library and the confiscation, misappropriation, or destruction of his legal documents. Finally, he contends that after filing grievances concerning the above events, the defendants transferred him in retaliation (ECF No. 5).

         On December 14, 2017, Newsome filed two Motions for Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions (ECF Nos. 10 & 11). In his first motion, he states he “entitled to a temporary restraining order requiring the defendants to implement the Natsarim faith group as a legitimate religion . . . [and] grant religious accommodations . . .” (ECF No. 10-1). In his second motion, Newsome contends that he is entitled to another temporary restraining order “requiring the defendants to locate and produce [his] ‘civil action complaint' and provide adequate legal law services.” (ECF No. 11-1). Additionally, he seeks an order requiring the Defendants to provide safeguards for retaliatory transfers (ECF No. 11-3).

         Although Newsome did not file these two motions until December 14, 2017, he states that he was transferred to Greene County (SMCI) on August 15, 2017 (ECF No. 10-1). His address of record remains SMCI.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Claims Against George County Defendants

         Because Newsome has been transferred out of George County, his claim for injunctive relief regarding policies and procedures at George County is now moot. See Edwards v. Johnson, 209 F.3d 772, 776 (5th Cir. 2000). Therefore, Newsome is not entitled to a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction with respect to his religious claims or his access to courts claim against Fairley, Rogers, or Richard, as they are George County employees.

         B. Remaining Claims

         However, Newsome is also suing two MDOC employees, McLeod and Wigglesworth, and he contends that the “same actions” occur at SMCI. Additionally, it is unclear which Defendant or Defendants he is suing for the retaliatory transfer. Therefore, the undersigned will address these claims in full.

         1. Legal Standard

         Because Newsome is a prisoner pursuing a civil action seeking redress from a government employee, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies. The PLRA limits the availability of preliminary injunctive relief: such relief “must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary relief, and ...


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