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Rodriguez v. Dzurenda

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 29, 2019

PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES DZURENDA, Defendant.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. SUMMARY

         This case involves the religious freedom of an incarcerated person who practices Satanism.

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation (“R&R” or “Recommendation”) of United States Magistrate Judge Carla B. Carry (ECF No. 59) (“R&R”) relating to Defendant James Dzurenda's motion for summary judgment (“Summary Judgment Motion”) (ECF No. 37).[1] Plaintiff Pedro Rodriguez filed an objection (ECF No. 62), and Defendant responded (ECF No. 63). The R&R recommends granting Defendant's Summary Judgment Motion. (ECF No. 59 at 1.) For the reasons stated below, the Court sustains Plaintiff's objection and declines to adopt the R&R.

         Additionally before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for partial reconsideration (“Reconsideration Motion”) (ECF No. 49) of the Court's order (ECF No. 42) adopting Judge Carry's recommendation (ECF No. 29) to deny Plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction (ECF No. 15).[2] For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Plaintiff's Reconsideration Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND[3]

         Plaintiff is an inmate within the Nevada Department of Corrections (“NDOC”). (ECF No. 37 at 2; ECF No. 50 at 3.) At all times relevant to this case, he was housed at Ely State Prison (“ESP”). (ECF No. 37 at 2; ECF No. 50 at 3.)

         The NDOC Religious Practice Manual, Administrative Regulation (“AR”) 810.3, governs the regulation of the various religions inmates practice. (See ECF No. 37-7 (effective February 2, 2014, through September 4, 2017); ECF No. 37-8 (effective September 5, 2017, through present).) It is supplemented by the NDOC Faith Group Overview, AR 810.2, which lists recognized faith groups and the religious property individuals in those faith groups may possess. (See ECF No. 37-1 (effective January 2, 2014, through September 4, 2017); ECF No. 37-2 (effective September 5, 2017, through present).)

         Individuals who wish for NDOC to recognize additional faith groups or authorize new religious property must submit a Request for Accommodation of Religious Practices Form (“Doc 3505”) to the chaplain, who then submits the form to the Religious Review Team (“RRT”). (ECF No. 37-7 at 14.) The RRT will research the request and submit a recommendation to the designated Deputy Director. (Id.) The designated Deputy Director will consider the request and recommendation and render a final decision. (Id.)

         Plaintiff completed an NDOC Religious Property Request Form (not a Doc 3505 form) on December 29, 2010, requesting one “Baphomet amulet goathead/pentagram” and one “silver-plated brass chain.” (ECF No. 37-6 at 2.) The chaplain reviewed the request on December 30, 2010, and “recommend[ed] denial” to the warden because the request was “not authorized per AR 810.2.” (Id.) The warden denied the request on January 4, 2011. (Id.)

         Plaintiff completed another NDOC Religious Property Request Form on November 8, 2015, requesting one “pentagram amulet of Baphomet.” (ECF No. 50 at 202.) The chaplain reviewed the request on November 9, 2015, and recommended denial because “per AR 810-pentagram amulets are available via the canteen.” (Id.) The warden denied the request on November 10 or 18, 2015. (Id. (date partly illegible).)

         Plaintiff contends-and Defendant disputes-that he submitted three Doc 3505 forms requesting official recognition of Satanism between June 2015 and April 2016. (ECF No. 50 at 5; ECF No. 37 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that he did not receive a response to these forms. (ECF No. 50 at 5.) Defendant alleges that Plaintiff never submitted these forms. (ECF No. 37 at 3.)

         Plaintiff filed an informal grievance in June 2016, alleging that the chaplain failed to respond to kites over the past two months inquiring about his request for religious accommodations. (ECF No. 50 at 185.) The grievance was denied. (Id. at 188.) The denial noted that the chaplain did not remember receiving a Doc 3505 form but that another inmate submitted a similar request yet to be finalized by the RRT. (Id.) Plaintiff filed a first level grievance (id. at 183) and received a similar response (id. at 184). Plaintiff filed a second level grievance (id. at 180) and received a similar response (id. at 181). The response to the second level grievance issued on January 26, 2017. (Id.)

         Plaintiff's Complaint was signed on March 28, 2017 (ECF No. 1-1 at 14), and the Court received the Complaint on April 3, 2017 (id. at 1). After screening, the Court permitted Plaintiff to proceed on the two counts asserted in the Complaint against Defendant in his capacity as the director of NDOC: (1) First Amendment right to Free Exercise and Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection claims alleged in Count I; and (2) Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 (“RLUIPA”) claim in Count II. (ECF No. 6 at 6-7.)

         III. REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (ECF NO. 59)

         Judge Carry recommends granting Defendant's Summary Judgment Motion on the ground that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of limitations. (ECF No. 59 at 9.) Judge Carry reasoned that Plaintiff's claims accrued when he received the December 30, 2010 denial of his religious property request. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff primarily objects to Judge Carry's finding that his claims accrued in 2010. (See ECF No. 62 at 7.) Plaintiff does not object to Judge Carry's finding that a two-year statute of limitations applies to Plaintiff's § 1983 claims or that a four-year statute of limitations applies to Plaintiff's RLUIPA claim. (See id.)

         A. Legal Standards

         1. Review of Magistrate Judge's Report ...


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