United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
KARDERRICK M. PIPKIN
LA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL
ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
M. Pipkin is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana
Department of Corrections. In My 2016, he was arrested and
jailed at the Caddo Correctional Center (CCC) awaiting trial.
In August 2017, he was sentenced and transferred to the legal
custody of the Lomaana Department of Carrections (DOC). [Rec.
Doc. 1, 3');">p. 3] He is currently incarcerated at the Bossier
Medium Correctional Center, Plain Dealing, Louisiana. On
September 1, 2017, he filed a civil right complaint pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the Louisiana
Department of Corrections39; grooming policies,
specifically the policies governing haircuts, and seeking
injunctive relief to preclude the DOC from enforcing those
policies against him. For the following reasons, the Motion
for Temporary Restraining Order is GRANTED.
asserts that he is a Nazirite Christian who took the vow of
the Nazirite, as shown in Judges 13-16, the story of Samson.
Nazirites believe that dreadlocks are their strength and
connection to God. [Rec. Doc. 1, 3');">p. 3] This belief is based
upon the words of the angel of God, "And no razor shall
come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to
God." Id. (citing Judges 13:5 (NKJV)).
2016, Plaintiff was arrested and incarcerated at the Caldwell
Correctional Center, were they have a "no hair cut"
policy. [Rec. Doc. 1 -2, p.2] In August 2017, Plaintiff was
sentenced to five and a half years at hard labor, in
connection with a plea of guilty to attempted possession of a
firearm and transferred to DOC custody. He is currently
incarcerated at the Bossier Parish Medium Correctional
Facility, where they have, and plan to enforce, a hair cut
policy that would require Plaintiff to cut his dreadlocks.
[See Rec. Doc. 1-3, p. 1]
filed the instant Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining
Order because he faces the threat of imminent, irreparable
harm from the Bossier Parish Sheriff s Office, who intends to
enforce the hair cut policy on September 15, 2017. [Rec. Doc.
1-2, p.2] Plaintiff asserts that undergoing the haircut would
force him to violate his religious beliefs and that he could
incur physical harm from the forcible procedure. Id.
seeking a temporary restraining order or preliminary
injunction must establish the following elements: (1) there
is a substantial likelihood the party will prevail on the
merits; (2) a substantial threat exists that irreparable harm
will result if the injunction is not granted; (3) the
threatened injury outweighs the threatened harm to the
defendants; and (4) the granting of the preliminary
injunction will not disserve the public interest. Karaha
Bodas Co. v. Perusahaan Pertambangan Minyak Dan Gas Bumi
Negara; 335 F.3d 357');">335 F.3d 357, 363 (5th Cir. 2003) (citing
Canal Auth. v. Callaway, 2d 567');">489 F.2d 567, 572 (5th Cir.
191 A)); Affiliated Prof39;I Home Health Care Agency v.
Shalala, 164 F.3d 282');">164 F.3d 282, 285 (5th Cir. 1999). Relief
should be granted only if the party seeking relief has
clearly carried the burden of persuasion as to all four
elements. Karaha Bodas Co., 335 F.3d at 363.
Injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy which requires
the applicant to unequivocally show the need for its
issuance. Valley v. Rapides Par. Sch. Bd., 118 F.3 d
1047, 1050 (5th Cir. 1997).
matter, plaintiff has shown a substantial likelihood of
success on the merits, given the the Fifth Circuit39;s
recent holding in Ware v. La. Dep39;t of Corr.,
866K3d263 (5th Cir. 2017). In that matter, the Court found
that an inmate, who had dreadlocks as part of his Rastafari
religion, was entitled to recovery in his RLUIP A suit
because the correctional facility failed to show that its
policy prohibiting dreadlocks, which substantially burdened
the inmate39;s sincere religious beliefs, was the least
restrictive means of serving a compelling interest, hi
particular, the facility failed to show that the grooming
policies served a compelling interest because the policies
were under-inclusive as they did not apply to a significant
portion of the inmates in the facility39;s legal custody.
The Court also found that the facility failed to show that
the policy was the least restrictive means of serving this
interest since its evidence that budget and staffing cuts
warranted the policy was ambiguous and there was no evidence
that the facility was unique among others that did not
prohibit dreadlocks. Thus, the likelihood of success on the
merits weighs in favor of plaintiff as to his request to wear
the second factor, the haircut policy places a substantial
burden on plaintiffs exercise of his religious beliefs.
See Ware, 866 F.3d at 269. Although the harm may not
be irreparable, any continued enforcement of it amounts to at
least some harm that need not be endured. See Garner v.
Kennedy, 13 F.3d 237');">713 F.3d 237, 241 (5th Cir. 2013) (noting that
"it is not seriously contested" that a policy
requiring a Muslim inmate to shave his beard "impose[s]
a substantial burden on . . . religious exercises").
respect to the third factor, Ware rejects the
argument that there is any harm to the Louisiana DOC if it is
ordered not to enforce the hair cut policy as to Plaintiff.
See Ware, 866 F.3d at 273-74. To the contrary, were
the DOC to stop such enforcement, it would free itself of
present and future lawsuits on this issue. See Strong v.
Livingston, No. 2:12-CV-106, 2013 WL 6817095, at *11-12
(S.D. Tex. Oct. 17, 2013).
regarding the fourth factor, granting the requested relief
would not disserve the public interest. Indeed, the Fifth
Circuit has held that "injunctions protecting First
Amendment freedoms are always in the public interest."
Opulent Life Church v. City of Holly Springs, 697
F.3d 279, 298 (5th Or. 2012) (quoting Chr ...