CRAIG C. RALSTON, Plaintiff - Appellee,
CHAPLAIN HOSEA CANNON, Defendant-Appellant.
FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
COLORADO (D.C. NO. 1:14-CV-00247-CBS)
C. Cooperstein, Assistant City Attorney, Denver City
Attorney's Office, Denver, Colorado, for Appellant.
Katayoun A. Donnelly, Azizpour Donnelly LLC, Denver,
Colorado, Court-appointed pro bono counsel for Appellee.
MORITZ, KELLY, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, Circuit Judge.
Ralston, a Denver Detention Center ("DDC")
prisoner, brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights
suit against Hosea Cannon. Ralston alleged Cannon, the official
charged with "coordinating, directing[, ] and monitoring
the religious activities" of DDC inmates, violated his
First Amendment right to free exercise by denying his request
for a kosher diet. Cannon moved for summary judgment on the
basis of qualified immunity, asserting his conduct was, at
most, negligent and, thus, did not rise to the level of a
First Amendment violation. The district court denied
Cannon's request for qualified immunity. The district
court concluded it was clearly established that a kosher-meal
accommodation is necessary if Ralston has an honest belief
the accommodation is important to his free exercise of
religion. Importantly, the district court further concluded
the record, read in the light most favorable to Ralston, was
sufficient to allow a reasonable juror to find Cannon
consciously or intentionally interfered with Ralston's
right to free exercise by denying the kosher-diet request.
appeals the district court's order denying his request
for qualified immunity. Each aspect of Cannon's appeal,
however, amounts to a challenge to the district court's
determinations of evidentiary sufficiency. Accordingly, this
court lacks jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal.
Johnson v. Jones, 515 U.S. 304, 319-20 (1995)
(holding that appellate courts lack interlocutory
jurisdiction in qualified-immunity based appeals from the
denial of summary judgment to review "whether or not the
pretrial record sets forth a 'genuine' issue of fact
for trial"); Lewis v. Tripp, 604 F.3d 1221,
1225 (10th Cir. 2010) ("[T]he Supreme Court [has]
indicated that, at the summary judgment stage at least, it is
generally the district court's exclusive job to determine
which facts a jury could reasonably find from the
evidence presented to it by the litigants.").
Accordingly, we dismiss Cannon's appeal
for lack of appellate jurisdiction.
A. Factual Background
district court noted that the following generalized factual
background was undisputed:
Craig Ralston, a member of the Messianic Jewish faith, was
arrested and booked into Denver Detention Center
("DDC") on December 20, 2013. At all relevant times
to this claim, Hosea Cannon served as the Program Director
and Chaplain for Denver Sheriff's Department. Chaplain
Cannon's job responsibilities involve "coordinating,
directing and monitoring the religious activities and
services of inmates of all faiths represented by the inmate
population, " which include special diet requests.
During the booking process, Mr. Ralston completed the
"Intake Pre-Classification Questionnaire" and
apparently circled "NO" to the question "Does
your religious affiliation require a special diet?" Soon
after booking, Mr. Ralston filed a step one grievance
requesting a kosher diet in accordance with his religious
beliefs as a Messianic Jew. On January 2, 2014, Chaplain
Cannon denied the request based on Mr. Ralston's response
to the question concerning dietary restrictions and
"Chaplain Cannon's prior correspondence with a
Messianic Jewish consultant who [advised] that the DDC's
standard, non-pork, non-shellfish diet met the dietary
requirements of Messianic Jewish inmates." On January
28, 2014, Mr. Ralston submitted a "Religious Special
Diet Application, " which included information
pertaining to his current religious affiliation as well as
"some background as to his religious history and
upbringing." That same day, Mr. Ralston filed this
action in the United States District Court for the District
of Colorado. On February 4, 2014, Chaplain Cannon approved
Mr. Ralston's application for a kosher diet.
Dist. Ct. Order at 2 (record citations omitted).