Case: Brown v. Ray

7:09-cv-00180 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia

Filed Date: May 15, 2009

Closed Date: 2010

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On May 15, 2009 an inmate at Red Onion State Prison, a Virginia Department of Corrections Institution, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-2(A) in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Roanoke Division. The plaintiff, initially litigating the matter pro se, asked the court for injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief, claiming that the defendants had violated his constitutional right to freely exercise his religion while incarcerat…

On May 15, 2009 an inmate at Red Onion State Prison, a Virginia Department of Corrections Institution, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-2(A) in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Roanoke Division. The plaintiff, initially litigating the matter pro se, asked the court for injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief, claiming that the defendants had violated his constitutional right to freely exercise his religion while incarcerated. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the defendants had prevented him from practicing his religion by using their official positions at the prison to deny him access to a religious magazine that he claimed provided him with the only means to practice his religion. The plaintiff claimed that while the defendants had notified him that the magazine was being denied because of its potential to interfere with institutional security, the magazine was approved for delivery at other locations throughout the Virginia Department of Corrections. Furthermore, the plaintiff alleged that by disapproving entire issues of the magazine when only part of the magazine was potentially objectionable under the department's regulations, the department had not used the least restrictive means to achieve its interest.

On motion for summary judgment, the defendants argued that the plaintiff had not exhausted his administrative remedies as to 5 of his 6 claims as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), which requires a prisoner to exhaust his internal administrative remedies before that prisoner is allowed to bring a § 1983 action. As to the plaintiff's first claim, the defendants argued that they had not violated his First Amendment rights because the prison action was reasonably related to penological interests, namely the maintenance security and good order within the correctional institution.

On February 26, 2010 the court granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motions for summary judgment. As a first matter, the court held that the plaintiff had exhausted his administrative remedies, which enabled him to seek relief in the courts. However, the court found that the plaintiff was prevented from bringing a claim for damages against the defendants in their official capacities by the doctrine of absolute immunity. The court found that questions of material fact existed as to whether the defendants had substantially burdened the plaintiff's free exercise of his religion. Furthermore, the court found that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether or not the policy of failing to deliver the religious magazine satisfied a compelling state interest. The court next noted that even if the defendants were able to prove that the denial of the magazine vindicated a compelling state interest, the defendants had failed to prove that the means chosen to vindicate the compelling state interest were not the least restrictive available.

However, the court found that the law was not clearly established at the time so "that a reasonable person in the defendant's positions would have known that such conduct was in violation of such a right." Accordingly, the court found that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity in their personal capacities for damages and granted their motion for summary judgment as to that issue. Nevertheless, the court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the claim for injunctive relief brought by the plaintiff. It should be noted that the defendants had sought to have the issues of the magazine denied to the plaintiff put under seal during the course of the litigation, so as to not allow the plaintiff to see the material they contended constituted a threat to the security of the correctional institution. The court granted the motion to seal.

On November 23, 2010 the court entered a consent order making note that the parties to the case had reached a settlement in the matter. Accordingly, the court dismissed the action with prejudice. However, the court retained jurisdiction in order to enforce the parties' agreement. The docket does not reflect the terms of the settlement agreement. However, according to a report filled by the Virginia Attorney General with the Governor of Virginia, this case "caused the Department of Corrections to modify its procedures regarding publication review."

Summary Authors

Justin Benson (11/12/2011)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4408040/parties/brown-v-ray/


Judge(s)

Sargent, Pamela Meade (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Fogel, Jeffrey E. (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Vorhis, Richard Carson (Virginia)

Judge(s)

Sargent, Pamela Meade (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Fogel, Jeffrey E. (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Vorhis, Richard Carson (Virginia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Civil Docket

May 15, 2009 Docket
1-1

[Untitled]

May 15, 2009 Complaint
13

Answer

Aug. 31, 2009 Pleading / Motion / Brief
15

Opposing Affidavits

Sept. 14, 2009 Pleading / Motion / Brief
18

Memorandum in Support

Sept. 17, 2009 Pleading / Motion / Brief
26

Memorandum in Support

Oct. 5, 2009 Pleading / Motion / Brief
36

Opinion

Brown v Ray

695 F.Supp.2d 292

Feb. 26, 2010 Order/Opinion
50-1

Amended Complaint

Sept. 27, 2010 Complaint
60

Consent Order

Nov. 23, 2010 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4408040/brown-v-ray/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT pursuant to 42 USC 1983 against all defendants, filed by Kelvin E. Brown. (Attachments: # 1 Claims 1-6, # 2 envelope)(kab)

1 Claims 1-6

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2 envelope

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May 15, 2009 PACER
2

Inmate Account Report by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

May 15, 2009 PACER
3

Statement of Assets by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

May 15, 2009 PACER
4

Verified Statements with attachments by Plaintiff Kelvin E. Brown. (Attachments: # 1 2/23/2009 Grievance forms, # 2 3/19/09 grievance forms, # 3 Grienvance forms, log# 620-29039, # 4 Grievance forms 1/29/2009, # 5 Grievance forms dated 2/17/2009, # 6 Grievance forms stamped 1/26/2009, # 7 Grievance forms dated 3/23/09)(kab)

1 2/23/2009 Grievance forms

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2 3/19/09 grievance forms

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3 Grienvance forms, log# 620-29039

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4 Grievance forms 1/29/2009

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5 Grievance forms dated 2/17/2009

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6 Grievance forms stamped 1/26/2009

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7 Grievance forms dated 3/23/09

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May 15, 2009 PACER
5

MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis by Kelvin E. Brown.Motions referred to Michael F. Urbanski. (kab)

May 15, 2009 PACER
6

Order entered conditionally filing this action; Advising inmate as to 3 strikes rule of PLRA; Assessing a filing fee of $ 350.00 but granting IFP to the extent that he will not have to prepay the filing fee in full; Deferring all action in this case; Advising inmate to comply within the allotted time and to notify of changes in address or risk dismissal re 1 Complaint filed by Kelvin E. Brown. Signed by Magistrate Judge Michael F. Urbanski on 05/18/2009. (kab)

May 18, 2009 PACER
7

Consent to Fee by Plaintiff Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

May 27, 2009 PACER
8

Response re 6 Order Prisoner Condfil,. filed by Kelvin E. Brown. (Attachments: # 1 Attachments to response)(tvt)

1 Attachments to response

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May 28, 2009 PACER
9

Order entered Directing the Clerk to attempt service of process in the usual manner upon the named defendants re 1 Complaint filed by Kelvin E. Brown, 8 Response filed by Kelvin E. Brown. Signed by Magistrate Judge Michael F. Urbanski on 06/29/2009. (kab) (Entered: 06/30/2009)

June 29, 2009 PACER
10

REQUEST FOR WAIVER of Service sent to all defendants in C/O AG-PLU on 6/30/2009. Waiver of Service due by 8/29/2009.(kab)

June 30, 2009 PACER
11

NOTICE of Appearance by Richard Carson Vorhis on behalf of Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease (Vorhis, Richard)

July 27, 2009 PACER
12

WAIVER OF SERVICE Returned Executed by Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease. Tracy S. Ray waiver sent on 6/30/2009, answer due 8/31/2009; L. Fleming waiver sent on 6/30/2009, answer due 8/31/2009; T. Pease waiver sent on 6/30/2009, answer due 8/31/2009.(Vorhis, Richard)

July 27, 2009 PACER
13

ANSWER to Complaint by Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease.(Vorhis, Richard)

Aug. 31, 2009 RECAP
14

Order to Respond: Defendants are hereby directed to file any dispositive motions within fifteen (15) days. Responses due by 9/19/2009. Signed by Magistrate Judge Michael F. Urbanski on 09/02/2009. (kab)

Sept. 3, 2009 PACER
15

Response re 13 Answer to Complaint. filed by Kelvin E. Brown. (Attachments: # 1 "Documents of Exhausting Administrative Remedies", # 2 "All Forms of Disapproved Publications", # 3 "Ledger", # 4 "Documents to show I've done all I could do to result this matter"-- Part 1, # 5 "Documents to show I've done all I could to result this matter" - Part 2, # 6 "This is an issue of the publication that is being denied" and envelope)(kab)

1 "Documents of Exhausting Administrative Remedies"

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2 "All Forms of Disapproved Publications"

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3 "Ledger"

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4 "Documents to show I've done all I could do to result this matter&quo

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5 "Documents to show I've done all I could to result this matter"

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6 "This is an issue of the publication that is being denied" and envelo

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Sept. 14, 2009 RECAP
16

MOTION to Continue by Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease.Motions referred to Michael F. Urbanski. (Vorhis, Richard)

Sept. 17, 2009 PACER
17

MOTION for Summary Judgment by Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease. (Vorhis, Richard)

Sept. 17, 2009 RECAP
18

Brief / Memorandum in Support re 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment. filed by Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 1 of 8, # 2 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 2 of 8, # 3 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 3 of 8, # 4 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 4 of 8, # 5 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 5 of 8, # 6 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 6 of 8, # 7 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 7 of 8, # 8 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 8 of 8, # 9 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 1 of 7, # 10 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 2 of 7, # 11 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 3 of 7, # 12 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 4 of 7, # 13 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 5 of 7, # 14 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 6 of 7, # 15 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 7 of 7)(Vorhis, Richard)

1 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 1 of 8

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2 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 2 of 8

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3 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 3 of 8

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4 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 4 of 8

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5 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 5 of 8

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6 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 6 of 8

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7 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 7 of 8

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8 Affidavit F. Taylor - Part 8 of 8

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9 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 1 of 7

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10 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 2 of 7

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11 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 3 of 7

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12 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 4 of 7

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13 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 5 of 7

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14 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 6 of 7

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15 Affidavit Tracy S. Ray - Part 7 of 7

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Sept. 17, 2009 PACER
19

Roseboro Notice (kab)

Sept. 18, 2009 RECAP
20

ORDER granting 16 Motion to Continue. Responses due 10/05/2009. Signed by Magistrate Judge Michael F. Urbanski on 09/18/2009. (kab)

Sept. 18, 2009 PACER
21

Response re 17 MOTION for Summary Judgment, 18 Brief / Memorandum in Support filed by Kelvin E. Brown. (Attachments: # 1 Grievance forms, # 2 Enclosure A- VDOC OP "Incoming Publications", # 3 Enclosure B- "Inmate Grievance", # 4 envelope)(kab)

1 Grievance forms

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2 Enclosure A- VDOC OP "Incoming Publications"

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3 Enclosure B- "Inmate Grievance"

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4 envelope

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Sept. 24, 2009 PACER
22

CONSENT to Jurisdiction by US Magistrate Judge by Kelvin E. Brown, Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease. Case reassigned to Magistrate Magistrate Judge Michael F. Urbanski. (kab)

Sept. 28, 2009 PACER
23

ORDER TRANSFERRING CASE. Case transferred to Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent for all further proceedings. Magistrate Judge Michael F. Urbanski no longer assigned to case. Signed by District Judge Glen E. Conrad on 09/28/2009. (kab)

Sept. 28, 2009 PACER
24

MOTION to Seal by Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease. (Vorhis, Richard)

Oct. 5, 2009 RECAP
25

MOTION for Summary Judgment by Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease. (Vorhis, Richard)

Oct. 5, 2009 PACER
26

Brief / Memorandum in Support re 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment. filed by Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Benjamin A. Wright)(Vorhis, Richard)

1 Affidavit Benjamin A. Wright

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Oct. 5, 2009 PACER
27

Roseboro Notice (tvt)

Oct. 6, 2009 RECAP
28

MOTION to Appoint Counsel by Kelvin E. Brown. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit in Support, # 2 envelope)(kab)

1 Affidavit in Support

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2 envelope

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Oct. 7, 2009 PACER
29

ORDER denying 28 Motion to Appoint Counsel. Signed by Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent on 10/8/09. (ejs)

Oct. 8, 2009 PACER
30

RESPONSE in Opposition re 24 MOTION to Seal. filed by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

Oct. 16, 2009 RECAP
31

RESPONSE in Opposition re 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment. filed by Kelvin E. Brown. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Letters, # 3 copies of 2 front pages of "The Final Call"-- actual newspapers found in clerk's office, # 4 cover sheets and envelope)(kab)

1 Memorandum in Support

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2 Letters

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3 copies of 2 front pages of "The Final Call"-- actual newpapers found

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4 cover sheets and envelope

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Oct. 16, 2009 PACER
32

Prisoner Motion: "Motion for Rehearing En Banc" by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

Oct. 26, 2009 RECAP
33

Letter regarding payment of his filing fee by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

Dec. 7, 2009 PACER
34

ORDER denying 32 Prisoner Motion. Signed by Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent on 12/21/09. (ejs)

Dec. 21, 2009 PACER
35

Letter regarding monies deducted from inmate account by Kelvin E. Brown. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibits, # 2 envelope)(kab)

1 Exhibits

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2 envelope

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Feb. 1, 2010 PACER
36

OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent on 2/26/10. (Bordwine, Robin)

Feb. 26, 2010 RECAP
37

ORDER granting in part and denying in part 25 defendants' motion for summary judgment; granting in part and denying in part 17 defendants' motion for summary judgment; and granting the 24 the defendant's motion to file document under seal. Signed by Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent on 2/26/10. (Bordwine, Robin)

Feb. 26, 2010 PACER
38

Letter regarding status of case by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

May 10, 2010 PACER
39

Sealed Documents. (See Motion at 24 and order granting motion at 37 ). (eps)

May 12, 2010 PACER
40

Request for Copies by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

May 18, 2010 PACER
41

NOTICE of Hearing: Bench Trial set for July 15 and 16, 2010, at 9:00 AM in Big Stone Gap before Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent. (eps)

May 19, 2010 PACER
42

Response re 40 Request for Copies.. (kab)

May 20, 2010 PACER
43

Letter in response to response from Pro Se Law Clerk regarding copies of filings by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

May 26, 2010 PACER
44

Response re 43 Letter. Clerk sent copies of some requested documents to Mr. Brown on this date.. (kab)

May 26, 2010 PACER
45

NOTICE of Appearance by Jeffrey Edward Fogel on behalf of Kelvin E. Brown (Fogel, Jeffrey)

July 9, 2010 PACER
46

First MOTION to Continue Trial Date by Kelvin E. Brown. (Fogel, Jeffrey)

July 9, 2010 PACER
47

ORAL ORDER granting 46 Motion to Continue. Signed by Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent on 7/12/10. (eps)

July 12, 2010 PACER
48

Notice of Cancellation of Court Trial scheduled for July 15 and 16, 2010 (eps)

July 12, 2010 PACER
49

NOTICE of Hearing: Bench Trial reset for November 16 and 17, 2010, at 9:00 AM in Big Stone Gap before Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent. (eps)

July 23, 2010 PACER
50

First MOTION to Amend/Correct 1 Complaint by Kelvin E. Brown. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Proposed Amended Complaint)(Fogel, Jeffrey)

1 Exhibit Proposed Amended Complaint

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July 27, 2010 PACER
51

Order to Respond re 50 First MOTION to Amend/Correct 1 Complaint - Responses due by 8/11/2010. Signed by Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent on 7/28/10. (eps)

July 28, 2010 PACER
52

Response re 51 Order to Respond. filed by Tracy S. Ray, L. Fleming, T. Pease. (Vorhis, Richard)

Aug. 11, 2010 PACER
53

ORDER granting 50 Motion to Amend/Correct. Signed by Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent on 9/2/10. (ejs)

Sept. 2, 2010 PACER
54

AMENDED COMPLAINT against Rita Bibbins, Larry Collins, Lois Fegan, L. Fleming, Barbara Gentry, John M. Jabe, Linda Leatherwood, T. Pease, Tracy S. Ray, Benjamin Wright, filed by Kelvin E. Brown.(ejs)

Sept. 2, 2010 PACER
55

AMENDED ANSWER to 54 Amended Complaint by Rita Bibbins, Larry Collins, Lois Fegan, L. Fleming, Barbara Gentry, John M. Jabe, Linda Leatherwood, T. Pease, Tracy S. Ray, Benjamin Wright. (Vorhis, Richard)

Sept. 10, 2010 RECAP
56

Notice of Cancellation of Court Trial set for November 16 & 17, 2010 in Big Stone Gap (ejs)

Nov. 12, 2010 PACER
57

Letter for information regarding the settlement in this case by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

Nov. 18, 2010 RECAP
58

STIPULATION of Dismissal /Consent Order by Kelvin E. Brown. (Fogel, Jeffrey)

Nov. 19, 2010 RECAP
59

Letter from Judge Sargent to plaintiff regarding status of case. (Bordwine, Robin)

Nov. 19, 2010 RECAP
60

ORDER DISMISSING CASE. Signed by Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent on November 22, 2010. (tvt)

Nov. 23, 2010 PACER
61

Letter Request for Settlement Information by Kelvin E. Brown. (lmh)

Nov. 24, 2010 PACER
62

Letter reagarding balance of remaining court costs. by Kelvin E. Brown. (kab)

Jan. 11, 2011 PACER
63

Letter from Financial re 62 regarding the balance of fees owed. (erf)

Jan. 21, 2011 PACER
64

Letter

March 4, 2011 PACER
65

Letter

March 4, 2011 PACER
66

Notice of Change of Address

April 29, 2011 PACER
67

Letter

April 29, 2011 PACER

State / Territory: Virginia

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 15, 2009

Closing Date: 2010

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

An inmate in the custody of the State of Virginia

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Tracy S. Ray (Pound, Wise), None

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Free Exercise Clause

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

Unknown

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Issues

General:

Mail

Religious programs / policies

Type of Facility:

Government-run