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Newsome v. Fairley

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

September 27, 2018

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

          ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S [39], [40] OBJECTIONS; ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S [37] REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S [10], [11] MOTIONS FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDERS AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIONS

          HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         BEFORE THE COURT are Plaintiff Anthony Melvin Newsome's Objections [39], [40] to the Report and Recommendation [37] of United States Magistrate Judge John C. Gargiulo, entered in this case on August 3, 2018, regarding Plaintiff's Motions [10], [11] for Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions. Based upon a review of Plaintiff's Motions [10], [11], related pleadings, the record, and relevant legal authority, the Magistrate Judge recommended that Plaintiff's Motions [10], [11] be denied. R. & R. [37] at 1, 10.

         After thoroughly reviewing Plaintiff's Objections [39], [40], the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation [37], the record, and relevant legal authority, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Objections [39], [40] should be overruled and that the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation [37] should be adopted as the finding of the Court. Plaintiff's Motions [10], [11] for Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Anthony Melvin Newsome (“Plaintiff” or “Newsome”) filed his Complaint [1-1] in the Circuit Court of Greene County, Mississippi, on August 30, 2017. Since the time he filed his original Complaint [1-1], Plaintiff has been incarcerated with the Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution (“SMCI”) in Leakesville, Mississippi. See Compl. [1-1] at 13. Plaintiff's claims pertain to conduct that purportedly occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at SMCI, and during his earlier incarceration at a different facility, the Greene County Regional Correctional Facility (“GCRCF”) located in Lucedale, Mississippi. Plaintiff states that he was incarcerated at GCRCF from 2015 until he was transferred to SMCI on August 15, 2017. See Pl.'s Decl. [10-1] at 2; Am. Compl. [5] at 5.

         The original Complaint [1-1] advanced claims against Defendants Bobby Fairley, Terry Rogers, Eric Richard, Gia McLeod, and Eugene Wigglesworth[1] for alleged violations of: (1) the First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986; (2) the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq. (“RLUIPA”); (3) the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, et seq. (“RFRA”); and (4) the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701, et seq. Id. at 1, 3-4.

         On October 4, 2017, Defendants Fairley, Rogers, and Richard removed the case to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, see Notice of Removal [1] at 1-2, and Defendants McLeod and Wigglesworth subsequently joined in the removal, see Joinder [3] at 1. Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint [5], advancing the same claims against Defendants Fairley, Rogers, Richard, McLeod, and Wigglesworth. All Defendants have answered the Amended Complaint [5]. See Answers [8], [9].

         On December 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed two Motions [10], [11] for Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions. In his first Motion [10], “Plaintiff seeks a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to ensure that he receive[s] Religious accommodations and MDOC/state acknowledgement of the Natsarim Belief.” Mot. [10] at 1. Plaintiff specifically requests religious accommodation for a special diet, the “inherently essential rite[ ]” of immersion or baptism, and religious counseling. Id. In the second Motion [11], Plaintiff seeks an injunction related to an alleged inadequate prison law library, material, supplies, and legal assistance, confiscation or destruction of legal documents, and retaliatory transfer from GCRCF to SMCI purportedly for filing grievances. See Mot. [11] at 1-2. The vast majority of Plaintiff's allegations in his Motions [10], [11], relate to GCRCF officials and their conduct while Plaintiff was incarcerated at GCRCF, prior to his transfer to SMCI. Defendants Fairley, Rogers, and Richard argue that Plaintiff's Motions [10], [11] fail because he has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. See Resp. [14] at 2-10.

         On August 3, 2018, the Magistrate Judge entered a Report and Recommendation [37]. The Magistrate Judge determined that Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief regarding policies and procedures at GCRCF were moot, such that he was not entitled to a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction with respect to GCRCF employees Defendants Fairley, Rogers, and Richard. R. & R. [37] at 3. As for Plaintiff's claims against MDOC employees McLeod and Wigglesworth, the Magistrate Judge determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction on any of his claims because he had not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. Id. at 4-10. The Magistrate Judge recommended that Plaintiff's Motions [10], [11] for Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions be denied. Id. at 10.

         Plaintiff submitted Objections [39], [40] to the Report and Recommendation [37]. The first set of Objections [39] appears to relate to Plaintiff's claims regarding his allegations of denial of access to courts, retaliation, and insufficiency of the prison law library, and argues that Plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm if his Motion [11] for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction is not granted. See Objs. [39] at 2-15. Plaintiff also raises arguments regarding exhaustion and procedural default, see, e.g., Id. at 4-5, 8, 10-11, 14-15, which are not at issue at this time.

         In the second set of Objections [40], Plaintiff focuses on his religious accommodation claims, see Objs. [40] at 1-8, and maintains that he will suffer irreparable injury and that he has satisfied any exhaustion requirements, id. at 3. Plaintiff argues that the Court should apply the “‘least restrictive means' test, not ‘rational relation' standard of review.” Id. at 5. According to Plaintiff, Defendants have failed to present credible evidence to support their penological goals, such that his Motion [10] for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction should be granted. Id. at 7-8.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of review

         Because Plaintiff has submitted written Objections [39], [40] to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation [37], the Court “make[s] a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). “Such review means that this Court will examine the entire record and will make an independent assessment of the law.” Lambert v. Denmark, Civil No. 2:12-cv-74-KS-MTP, 2013 WL 786356, *1 (S.D.Miss. Mar. 1, 2013). In conducting a de novo review, the Court is not “required to reiterate the findings and conclusions of the magistrate judge.” Koetting v. Thompson, 995 F.2d 37, 40 (5th Cir. 1993).

         B. Relevant legal authority

         1. Temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions

         A temporary restraining order is a mechanism for affording relief for a limited time, when immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the movant before a party can be heard in opposition. See Esparza v. Bd. of Trustees, 182 F.3d 915, 1999 WL 423109, *2 (5th Cir. 1999) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b)). Where the adverse party has received notice, the provisions of Rule 65(b) do not control, and a court has discretion to consider more lasting relief in the form of a preliminary injunction. Id. Obtaining a temporary restraining order requires that an applicant meet a higher standard than that necessary for a preliminary injunction. Id. In this case, Defendants have received notice of Plaintiff's Motions [10], [11], such that the Court will consider his requests under the standard for preliminary injunctions. See id.

         A preliminary injunction is an “extraordinary remedy, ” which should only issue if the movant demonstrates the following: (1) a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits; (2) a substantial threat of irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted; (3) the threatened injury outweighs any harm that will result to the non-movant if the injunction is granted; and (4) the injunction will not disserve the public interest. La Union Del Pueblo Entero v. Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency, 608 F.3d 217, 219 (5th Cir. 2010). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has cautioned that a plaintiff is not required to prove his entitlement to summary judgment on his claims in order to show a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. Byrum v. Landreth, 566 F.3d 442, 446 (5th Cir. 2009).

         2. Requests for prospective and injunctive relief under the Prison Litigation Reform Act

         Because Plaintiff is incarcerated and proceeding in forma pauperis in this case, the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”), 18 U.S.C. § 3626, govern his claims. Of relevance here, the PLRA provides that:

[p]rospective relief in any civil action with respect to prison conditions shall extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right of a particular plaintiff or plaintiffs. The court shall not grant or approve any prospective relief unless the court finds that such relief is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right. The court shall give substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the relief. . . . .
In any civil action with respect to prison conditions, to the extent otherwise authorized by law, the court may enter a temporary restraining order or an order for preliminary injunctive relief. Preliminary injunctive relief must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary relief, and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct that harm. The court shall give substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the preliminary relief and shall respect the principles of comity set out in paragraph (1)(B) in tailoring any preliminary relief.

18 U.S.C. §§ 3626(a)(1)(A), (a)(2). Paragraph 1(B) provides that:

[t]he court shall not order any prospective relief that requires or permits a government official to exceed his or her authority under State or local law or otherwise violates State or local law, unless--
(i) Federal law requires such relief to be ordered in violation of State or local law;
(ii) the relief is necessary to correct the violation of a Federal right; and
(iii) no other relief will correct the violation of the Federal right.

         18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(B).

         3. R ...


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