United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
CHRISTOPHER E. KOCH, Plaintiff,
JOHN CARLISLE, et al., Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BERNARD M. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Christopher E. Koch, a state prisoner appearing pro se and in
forma pauperis, has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons
Act (RLUIPA) seeking redress for alleged violations of his
religious rights [Doc. No. 1]. Chief United States District
Judge Joe Heaton has referred the matter for proposed
findings and recommendations consistent with 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and (C). Pending before the Court is Defendants
John Carlisle and Hector Rios' Motion for Summary
Judgment [Doc. No. 40]. Plaintiff did not respond. For the
reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the
Defendants' Motion be granted.
is a state prisoner confined at the Lawton Correctional
Facility (LCF), a private prison operated pursuant to a
contract with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC).
Compl. at 1. Plaintiff alleges that he is “a
faithful and reliable member of the Satanic faith” and
has been for many years. Id. at 3, 6. According to
Plaintiff, Defendant Carlisle, the LCF Chaplain, and
Defendant Rios, the LCF Warden, were responsible for the
religious activities at LCF and both willfully and
arbitrarily denied him the right to worship and participate
in the ceremonies of the “Festival of the Winter
Solstice.” Id. at 3.
October 15, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a request for the
“Satanic / Left Hand Path Faith” to worship and
participate in the Festival of the Winter Solstice.
Id. at Ex. 3. On November 5, 2014, Defendant
Carlisle responded to the request stating: “Every
religious group on this facility must celebrate their
religious ceremonies on their designated nights, you are no
exception. You need to celebrate it on Dec. 17th
or 24th. Let me know.” Id. at 7,
Ex. 3. In response, Plaintiff filed a grievance to Defendant
Rios on November 10, 2014, asserting that Defendant
Carlisle's decision was not in accordance with ODOC's
policy. Id. at 7, Ex. 4. Plaintiff specifically
requested that he be allowed to have his religious festival
on its proper day and stated that “altering the date of
the rite is not in accordance with the event in the lunar
cycle.” Id. at Ex. 4. Defendant Rios'
Your grievance has been reviewed. Your allotted religious day
is Wednesday of every week. You must use one of the two days
given by the chaplain (December 17th or
24th). With all the other events going on during
that time frame, you must concede to the safety and security
of the facility. The facility is also doing visitation on the
21st of December which will preclude staff from
observing your festivities.
Id. at Ex. 5.
lawsuit followed, and the Court denied Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss [Docs. 22, 28, 29]. The Court then gave the
parties the opportunity to engage in discovery [Doc. No. 32]
and Defendants now proceed with their summary judgment
Standard of Review
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court
shall grant summary judgment “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-323 (1986). Once a moving
party shows it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,
the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to point out the
specific facts that create disputed factual issues. See
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
Plaintiff signed his Complaint under penalty of perjury,
Compl. at 12, so the Court may consider it an affidavit for
purposes of summary judgment. See Abdulhaseeb v.
Calbone, 600 F.3d 1301, 1311 (10th Cir. 2010). However,
while the Court liberally construes his pro se Complaint, he
must adhere to the same rules of procedure binding on all
litigants. See Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218
(10th Cir. 2007). Regarding those requirements, the Supreme
Court instructs that:
the plain language of Rule 56[ ] mandates the entry of
summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon
motion, against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can
be “no genuine issue as to any material fact, ”
since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential
element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders
all other facts immaterial.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.
evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must
consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences from those
facts in favor of that party. See Thomson v. Salt Lake
Cnty., 584 F.3d 1304, 1312 (10th Cir. 2009).