United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
BRADLEY V. JACKSON, Plaintiff,
MONTANA STATE PRISON, WARDEN MICHAEL FLETCHER, MARRISA BOSTWICK and TIFFANY MORRISON, Defendants.
L. CHRISTENSEN, CHIEF JUDGE
States Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston entered his Order
and Findings and Recommendations in this case on August 1,
2018, recommending the dismissal of Plaintiff Bradley V.
Jackson's ("Jackson") due process claim and the
dismissal of Montana State Prison as a defendant. (Doc. 6 at
9.) Jackson timely filed an objection. (Doc. 9.) Accordingly,
Jackson is entitled to de novo review of those findings and
recommendations to which he has specifically objected. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Absent objection, this Court
reviews findings and recommendations for clear error.
United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121
(9th Cir. 2003) (en banc); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140, 149 (1985). Clear error exists if the Court is left with
a "definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed." United States v. Syrax, 235 F.3d
422, 427 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). "A party
makes a proper objection by identifying the parts of the
magistrate's disposition that the party finds
objectionable and presenting legal argument and supporting
authority, such that the district court is able to identify
the issues and the reasons supporting a contrary
result." Montana Shooting Sports Ass 'n v.
Holder, 2010 WL 4102940, at *2 (D. Mont. Oct. 18, 2010)
Jackson is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis, Judge
Johnston reviewed his Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915 and § 1915A. Sections l9l5A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B)
require the Court to dismiss a complaint filed in forma
pauperis and by a prisoner against a government defendant
before it is served if it frivolous, malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from an immune defendant. Under this
standard, Judge Johnston found that Jackson failed to state a
due process claim and recommended that this claim be
dismissed. (Doc. 6 at 6.)
alleged that on multiple occasions he was told he could not
go to church if he wanted an education. He claims that
Defendants forced him to choose between school and church.
Jackson claims that this is a violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment. (Doc. 2 at 6.)
Johnston accurately laid out the proper legal standard for
determining if Jackson stated a viable claim for a due
process violation. (Doc. 6 at 5-6.) 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. Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221
(2005). 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). Judge Johnston
found that because "the due process clause ... does not
create a liberty interest in prison education or
rehabilitation classes," Jackson had failed to state a
due process claim. (Doc. 6 at 6.)
objects to the dismissal of his due process claim on the
basis that while Judge Johnston found that could not state a
due process claim in relation to prison education, Judge
Johnston did not decide whether Jackson could state a due
process claim for a violation of his "Right to Freedom
of Religion." (Doc. 9 at 1.) Because Judge Johnston did
not decide this issue explicitly, this Court will review this
claim de novo.
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) (internal quotation marks omitted). Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 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) (internal quotation
8(a)(2) 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." In order to satisfy the requirements in Rule 8,
a complaint's allegations must cross "the line from
conceivable to plausible." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
680. There is a two-step procedure to determine whether a
complaint's allegations cross that line. First, the Court
must identify "the allegations in the complaint that are
not entitled to the assumption of truth." Id.
at 679. 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 (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). Second, the Court must determine
whether the complaint states a "plausible" claim
for relief. Id. 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. 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. (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted).
Jackson's complaint liberally, as required, he has failed
to allege a due process violation. Erickson v.
Pardu, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Again, 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, 83 F.3d at 1088
(quoting Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484). It is well
settled that an inmate's religious freedoms may be
curtailed when justified and reasonably related to legitimate
penological interests. Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S.
78, 89 (1987). In light of this, and assuming the factual
allegations in Jackson's Complaint are true, the Court
cannot find that being forced to choose between attending a
religious ceremony and attending educational activities is an
"atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in
relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life."
Consequently, Jackson has failed to state a due process
ORDERED that Judge Johnston's Order and Findings and
Recommendations (Doc. 6) are ADOPTED IN FULL.
FURTHER ORDERED that Jackson's due process claim is
FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Montana State ...