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Redowl v. State

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division

March 19, 2019

TREY REDOWL, et al., Plaintiffs,
STATE OF IOWA, et al., Defendants.


          Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge


         This matter is before me on plaintiffs' pro se motion (Doc. No. 4) for emergency injunction ordering the release of funds from the Native American community institutional account (the Account) at Fort Dodge Correctional Facility (FDCF). Defendants have filed a resistance (Doc. No. 13) and plaintiffs have replied (Doc. No. 17). Also pending is individual plaintiff Raymond Cooper's pro se motion (Doc. No. 3) for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and plaintiffs' pro se motion (Doc. No. 14) to amend complaint.[1] Oral argument is not necessary. N.D. la. L.R. 7(c).


         Plaintiffs commenced this case on April 3, 2018 by filing a pro se complaint (Doc. No. 1) alleging various violations of their religious rights while incarcerated at FDCF. The plaintiffs did not pay the filing fee or request in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) (requiring filing fee). Instead, they stated that the filing fee would be provided by a separate mailing. See Doc. No. 1-1.

         On April 9, 2018, plaintiffs filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis by plaintiff Raymond Cooper. Doc. No. 3. Plaintiffs then filed a pro se motion for a preliminary injunction, stating:

The Native American community here at FDCF has an institutional account. This account accrues monies donated by the Native offenders for their use. On April 2, the Treasurer of the account, Plaintiff Bertucci, authorized expenditure of $350.00 filing fee, along with an attached letter to you, the Clerk of Court, stating that the filing fee was enclosed. This expenditure, including the letter addressed to your office, was seized by Treatment Director Netti Renshaw . . . She informed both Plaintiff Bertucci and myself, the lead plaintiff in this matter, that we, the Native American community at FDCF, could not pay the filing fee from our fund, despite this fund being financed by us.
We believe, therefore, that defendant Renshaw is intentionally interfering with our protected conduct of Court Access under the First Amendment . . . Plaintiffs are seeking a TRO for release of their funds to your office.

Doc. No. 4. I ordered defendants to respond to the motion for TRO. Doc. No. 6.


         Religious groups such as the Native American Community (NAC) at FDCF are permitted to maintain institutional accounts (the Account) to be used by group members to purchase items for the collective benefit of the group. Doc. No. 13-2 at 2. These accounts are typically used to purchase items such as books or supplies for worship, or to make donations. Id. Netti Renshaw, the treatment director at FDCF and a named defendant in this case, stated that she "was given a request by the Native American group to use their funds to pay for the filing fee to be assessed in the present action," and that she "rejected the request . . . [because] such purpose would not collectively benefit the members of the group to further their religious pursuit." Id. She also stated that the request was denied because "[t]he individual choice to pursue litigation is certainly allowed, but the funds of a religious group is not [sic] the purpose of such account." Id. Finally, Renshaw stated that she was concerned that not all plaintiffs in the lawsuit had contributed equally to the account and that some contributors to the account were not named plaintiffs. Id.

         Plaintiffs respond that pursuing litigation to right a violation of their religious rights is a proper use of the Account, and that the NAC unanimously authorized the use of funds for this purpose. Doc. No. 17 at 9, 10. Plaintiffs explain that not every member of the NAC is a member of the lawsuit because some members feared retaliation as a result of being named plaintiffs. Id. Plaintiffs also submitted a copy of the FDCF policy which sets out the rules under which prisoners may make donations for the support of their religion. The policy states:

Individual offender donations for the support of one's religion may be permitted consistent with IDOC policies AD-FM-11, Offender Funds and AD-GA-17, Acceptance of Gifts by Executive Branch Departments. Any donation shall be processed through the Associate Warden of Treatment/Designee, and Business Office.

Id. at 12 (Religious Programming, OP-RP-01).

         IV. STANDARDS

         A. TRO Standards

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 states, in relevant part: (a) Preliminary Injunction.

(1) Notice. The court may issue a preliminary injunction only on notice to the adverse party.
(2) Consolidating the Hearing with the Trial on the Merits. Before or after beginning the hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction, the court may advance the trial on the merits and consolidate it with the hearing. Even when consolidation is not ordered, evidence that is received on the motion and that would be admissible at trial becomes part of the trial record and need not be repeated at trial. But the court must preserve any party's right to a jury trial.
(b) Temporary Restraining Order.
(1) Issuing Without Notice. The court may issue a temporary restraining order without written or oral notice to the adverse party or its attorney only if:
(A) specific facts in an affidavit or a verified complaint clearly show that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the movant before the adverse party can be heard in opposition; and
(B) the movant's attorney certifies in writing any efforts made to give notice and the reasons why it should not be required.
(2) Contents; Expiration. Every temporary restraining order issued without notice must state the date and hour it was issued; describe the injury and state why it is irreparable; state why the order was issued without notice; and be promptly filed in the clerk's office and entered in the record. The order expires at the time after entry - not to exceed 14 days - that the court sets, unless before that time the court, for good cause, extends it for a like ...

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