United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Patuxent Institution, Warden Laura Armstead, Assistant Warden
Allen Gang, and former Correctional Officer Jason Anderson,
filed a motion to dismiss the complaint or for summary
judgment in response to Plaintiff's unverified civil
rights complaint. ECF No. 10. The motion is supported by
materials outside of the original pleadings, which have been
considered by the court. The motion will therefore be
construed as one for summary judgment. See Bosiger v.
U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007).
Plaintiff Corey Lee Dove was advised of his right to file an
opposition response to Defendants' motion and of the
consequences of failing to do so. ECF No. 12. The motion
remains unopposed. A hearing is deemed unnecessary for
determination of the pending matters. See Local Rule
105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons stated below,
Defendants' motion will be granted as to the claim
Corey Lee Dove, a prisoner committed to the custody of the
Maryland Division of Correction and, at all times relevant to
the complaint, confined at Patuxent Institution, raises a
First Amendment free exercise of religion claim. Mr. Dove
observes Native American Religious practices and states that
when he arrived at Patuxent he discovered there was no group
service in place for his chosen faith. ECF No. 1 at p. 2. Mr.
Dove states that, after speaking with the chaplain, Kenneth
Ingram, about starting such a service, it took over a month
for Ingram to get worship services in place for Mr. Dove and
other Native Americans to attend. Id. at p. 3.
Dove claims that during the wait for services to be
instituted, he and other Native Americans attempted to
observe their faith without the benefit of formal services.
However, Mr. Dove and his fellow observers were subject to
verbal harassment and disrespect from correctional officers
at Patuxent. Id. Examples of the objectional
behavior Mr. Dove claims he experienced included derisive
comments regarding their attire, “disrespectful noises,
” and generally being singled out by officers when they
became aware one of the inmates was Native American.
Id. Additionally, Mr. Dove describes as
disheartening the commentary made by officers who predicted
there would never be Native American services instituted at
response to the derogatory comments directed at them, Mr.
Dove and another Native American inmate, Jeremy Sykes, began
filing administrative remedy procedure complaints, known as
“ARPs, ” the month after they requested services
to be provided for their worship. Shortly thereafter, a place
was provided for services to be held, but Mr. Dove states
that the “facility found every way it could to hinder
our service.” Id. Officers not named in the
complaint would refuse to allow the attendees to go outside
in a timely manner, leaving no time for “sending
prayers out.” Id. Although Mr. Dove also filed
ARPs regarding these efforts, he claims nothing changed.
Dove's housing tier was locked-down from February 11 to
March 4, 2018, and he was not permitted to attend services
during this time despite the fact that the reason for the
lock-down “had nothing to do with [him].”
Id. During this period Mr. Dove's mother passed
away. Id. at p. 4. Mr. Dove explains that it is very
important to his faith to have a sacred ceremony “for
spirits passing over.” Id. Mr. Dove was denied
the opportunity to have such a ceremony after his mother and
one of his sisters passed away. Id.
donations to purchase supplies for religious services were sent
to Mr. Dove and the other participants in Native American
worship, officials at Patuxent did not allow them to receive
the donations. Id. Mr. Dove states that, when he and
the other congregants filed ARPs regarding the donations,
their complaints were denied on the basis that the donations
were not sent in correctly. Id. According to Mr.
Dove, however, all of the donations had been sent in the same
way since the start of the program - donations and orders of
supplies purchased by participants were sent to Chaplain
Ingram. Id. Mr. Dove states that as long as Ingram
knew about the incoming donations and supplies, the materials
were allowed, but the policy suddenly changed without a
change in the manner in which things were brought into the
summary, Mr. Dove claims that obstacles were placed in the
way of the free practice of his religion and that he and his
fellow participants were treated unfairly. Id. at p.
5. He acknowledges that Native American religious services
are disfavored due to the things needed for its practice but
asserts that it is not a valid basis for the treatment they
received. Id. He adds that he and Mr. Sykes were
transferred out of Patuxent on the same day in a
thinly-veiled attempt to end the Native American worship
services. Id. As relief, Mr. Dove seeks monetary
damages for the pain of losing the opportunity to participate
in appropriate worship services following the passing of his
mother and sister and an injunction requiring officials at
Patuxent to provide appropriate services for Native
Americans. Id. at p. 6.
court-ordered supplement to the complaint, Mr. Dove explains
that the individuals who were responsible for burdening his
free practice of religion were Warden Laura Armstead,
Assistant Warden Allen Gang, “Property OIC, ” and
Sgt. Anderson. ECF No. 4 at p. 2. He adds a claim that his
transfer to Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI) from
Patuxent was done in retaliation for filing complaints
concerning the conduct that interfered with Native American
religious services. Id. Mr. Dove specifically
alleges that Warden Armstead had a meeting regarding Native
American services and “told everyone to stop everything
about [the] service.” Id. at p. 4. Shortly
thereafter, Mr. Sykes and he were transferred to JCI.
Dove also states that his sister passed away on March 30,
2018, and his mother passed away on February 4, 2018. ECF No.
4 at p. 3. He explains that the religious service following
the death of a family member is to send prayers for the
family members to “enter the spirit world in the
correct gate.” Id. Because he was not allowed
properly to pray for his deceased family members, he states
that he will now live with guilt that his mother and sister
may “be stuck in a cold and lon[e]ly place.”
provide the following additional facts. On October 5, 2017,
Mr. Dove was transferred to Patuxent. On an unspecified date,
Mr. Dove's request for Native American Services was
approved by the chaplain. ECF No. 10-2 at p. 2. With regard
to the allegations raised in the complaint, Defendants rely
on their responses to Mr. Dove's ARP
complaints. ECF No. 10-2 at pp. 16-68. Each ARP
complaint and response is summarized below.
PATX0064-18, dated January 17, 2018, Mr. Dove complained that
Native American services had not started on time once during
the four months it had been held and that none of the
services were “proper.” ECF No. 10-2 at p. 17. He
explained that the delay in starting the service was a
problem because there is a lot of preparation required for
each service and if they are rushed it made it difficult for
them to stay grounded and focused during their prayers.
Id. at p. 18. The investigation into the complaint
consisted of the assigned officer, Cornae Shields, sending an
email to Chaplain Ingram asking for the time slots for Native
American services. Id. at pp. 19 and 21. Mr. Ingram
confirmed that services were scheduled for Wednesdays at 7
p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Id. at p. 21. From this information Officer Shields
concluded that: “[a]ccording to the time frames of the
inmate service, any off tier movement is contingent on any
mass movement or other daily movement throughout the
institution that require (sic) custody staff.”
Id. at p. 20. Shields recommended dismissal of Mr.
Dove's ARP complaint because of her view that he was not
being denied an opportunity to practice his religion.
Id. On February 12, 2018, Warden Armstead adopted
the recommended disposition and observed that “no
unlawful acts are being committed by Patuxent.”
Id. at p. 16.
PATX0250-18, filed on April 26, 2018, Mr. Dove complained
that Property Officer Anderson was abusing his authority when
he would not allow Mr. Dove to have a package mailed to him
that contained red felt. ECF No. 10-2 at pp. 28-29. According
to Mr. Dove, Officer Anderson told him there was a problem
with the package because inmates are not allowed to have
anything that is red. Id. at p. 29. During their
exchange, Mr. Dove attempted to explain to Anderson that the
Division of Correction Directives allowed inmates to have
“any color headgear.” Id. The
investigation into this complaint included an interview with
Officer Anderson who explained that the red felt contained in
the package was prohibited by Executive Directive Order
OPS.220.0004 prohibiting inmates from possessing dark blue,
black, red, or camouflage clothing or pieces of cloth.
Id. at pp. 23-24, see also p. 26, Exec.
Dir. OPS.220.0004.03 C.1.d. While the religious service
manual (OPS.140.0002) does allow religious headgear of any
color, the Executive Directive supersedes the religious
service manual. Id. at p. 24. Warden Armstead
dismissed the ARP complaint on May 18, 2018, noting the
Executive Directive and observing that Sgt. Anderson was
simply performing his duties properly. Id. at p. 22.
April 9, 2018, in ARP PATX0236-18, Mr. Dove complained about
donated items for worship not being distributed. ECF No. 10-2
at pp. 49-50. Mr. Dove states that for over two months
donated items were not released to the Native American group
for worship services and asked that property room staff be
instructed to forward all donated religious items to Chaplain
Ingram for distribution. Id. at p. 50. The
investigation into the complaint revealed that the donated
items were ordered by an individual on Mr. Dove's
visitor's list “or who are closely related to the
inmate (based o[n] addresses and zip codes.”)
Id. at p. 53. The donations were sent to Chaplain
Ingram but were not approved after the package was inspected
and found to contain “contraband and/or [items that]
posed a legitimate security concern.” Id.,
see also pp. 56-63 (invoices for items sent). On
that basis, the donations were held for further
investigation. Id. at p. 53. Based on that
information, Warden Armstead dismissed the ARP on August 7,
2018. Id. at p. 51.
13, 2018, Mr. Dove filed ARP PATX0298-18 complaining that
Native American religious services had been cancelled the day
before. ECF No. 10-2 at pp. 37-38. He explained that services
were cancelled because of a “code that was called at
9:28 a.m.” but that he and others had early set-up
passes for 8:30 a.m. Id. at p. 37. They were
required to stay in a bull-pen waiting for an escort for 55
minutes and the code for a fight was called at a time when
his group should have been outside worshipping already.
Id. at pp. 37-38. The investigation into this
complaint by Administrative Remedy Coordinator Cornae Shields
included an email to Captain Daniel Little inquiring whether
services had been cancelled on the day in question.
Id. at p. 42. Captain Little responded that religious
services were not cancelled that day, but that inmate
movement was on hold “while we contained the situation
on E3.” Id. Warden Armstead dismissed the
complaint on the basis that services were not cancelled.
Id. at p. 39. There is no indication that Mr. Dove
and other Native American inmates were permitted the full 90
minute period for worship following the delay. An appeal to
the Commissioner of Correction of Armstead's dismissal
resulted in an affirmation of her decision. Id. at
Defendants address the supplemental complaint, they do not
address Mr. Dove's claim that his ...