United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
BRADLEY V. JACKSON, Plaintiff,
MONTANA STATE PRISON, WARDEN MICHAEL FLETCHER, MARRISA BOSTWICK and TIFFANY MORRISON, Defendants.
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
JOHNSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Bradley Jackson filed a Complaint alleging his constitutional
rights were violated when he was forced to choose between
school and church. (Doc. 2.) While Mr. Jackson does not have
a constitutional right to education, if other inmates were
allowed to leave school to attend religious ceremonies and
that option was denied to Mr. Jackson, he has potentially
stated an equal protection and/or First Amendment claim.
Defendants Fletcher, Bostwick, and Morrison will be required
to respond to these claims. Montana State Prison and Mr.
Jackson's due process claim will be recommended for
SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A
Jackson is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis so the
Court must review his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§
1915, 1915A. Sections 1915A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B) require the
Court to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis and/or
by a prisoner against a governmental defendant before it is
served if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
complaint is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis
either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A case is malicious if it was
filed with the intention or desire to harm another.”
Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). A
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted if a plaintiff fails to allege the
“grounds” of his “entitlement to
relief.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007) (quotation omitted). Rule 8(a)(2) requires a
complaint to “contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a
complaint “that states a claim for relief must contain
. . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). In order to satisfy the requirements in Rule 8 a
complaint's allegations must cross “the line from
conceivable to plausible.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 680 (2009).
is a two-step procedure to determine whether a
complaint's allegations cross that line. See Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556; Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662. First, the Court must
identify “the allegations in the complaint that are not
entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679, 680. Factual allegations are not entitled to the
assumption of truth if they are “merely consistent with
liability, ” or “amount to nothing more than a
‘formulaic recitation of the elements' of a
constitutional” claim. Id. at 679, 681. A
complaint stops short of the line between probability and the
possibility of relief where the facts pled are merely
consistent with a defendant's liability. Id. at
the Court must determine whether the complaint states a
“plausible” claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
679. A claim is “plausible” if the factual
allegations, which are accepted as true, “allow[ ] the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at
678. This inquiry is “a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. at 679
(citation omitted). If the factual allegations, which are
accepted as true, “do not permit the court to infer
more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint
has alleged-but it has not “show[n]”-“that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id.
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally
construed,' and ‘a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.' “
Erickson v. Pardu, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); cf. Fed. Rule Civ.
Proc. 8(e) (“Pleadings must be construed so as to do
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Jackson is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel. He is
proceeding in forma pauperis. He is incarcerated at Montana
Jackson names the following Defendants: Montana State Prison
(“MSP”), Warden Michael Fletcher, Marrisa
Bostwick and Tiffany Morrison. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 5.)
Jackson alleges that on multiple occasions he was told he
could not go to church if he wanted an education. He claims
Defendants forced him to choose between school and church.
(Doc. 2 at 6.) Mr. Jackson attached a letter to his Complaint
wherein he explains he was not allowed to take part in his
ceremonial religious right (pipe ceremony) while in school.
He claimed the prison education instructor placed him in a
position of choosing either school or his religious
activities. He alleges he was forced to make this choice
while the instructor gave special permission for others
practicing a different religion the freedom to attend both
education and their religious ceremonies. (Doc. 2-1.)
Montana State Prison
State Prison is a state agency protected from monetary
damages by immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the
United States Constitution. The United States Supreme Court
has interpreted the Eleventh Amendment to mean that absent
waiver, neither a State nor an agency of the State acting
under its control may “be subject to suit in federal
court.” Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority v.
Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139, 144 (1993). Montana
State Prison is not a proper defendant in this action and
should be dismissed.
Jackson lists a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claim in his
Statement of Claims. (Doc. 2 at 6.) The Due Process Clause
protects against the deprivation of liberty without due
process of law. Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221
(2005). In order to state a cause of action for a deprivation
of due process, a plaintiff must first identify a liberty
interest for which the protection is sought. Id. The
Due Process Clause does not confer a liberty interest in
freedom from state action taken within a prisoner's
imposed sentence. Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 480 (1995).
A prisoner has a liberty interest protected by the Due
Process Clause only where the restraint “imposes
atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation
to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Keenan v.
Hall, 83 F.3d 1083, 1088 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Sandin, 515
U.S. at 484).
process clause of the United States Constitution does not
create a liberty interest in prison education or
rehabilitation classes. Hernandez v. Johnston, 833 F.2d 1316,
1319 (9th Cir. 1987) citing Rizzo v. Dawson, 778 F.2d 527,
531 (9th Cir. 1985). As such, Mr. ...