United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
VAN MEERVELD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Michael Young, is a state prisoner incarcerated at the B.B.
“Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie,
Louisiana. He filed this pro se federal civil action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In this lawsuit, he
challenges a prison policy that prohibits inmates confined on
extended lockdown from receiving outside reading materials.
connection with his complaint, plaintiff filed a motion for a
temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Rec.
Doc. 13. Despite his request for a temporary restraining
order, his motion must be construed solely as one for a
preliminary injunction because the relief he seeks would
extend beyond the ten-day limit of a temporary restraining
order. Neal v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 76
Fed.Appx. 543, 545 (5th Cir. 2003).
the law of this Circuit, a plaintiff must make a clear
showing that his case satisfies the following four criteria
before he can receive a preliminary injunction: (1) a
substantial likelihood exists that he will succeed on the
merits of his claim; (2) a substantial threat of irreparable
harm exists if the injunction is not granted; (3) the
threatened injury outweighs any harm to the defendants if the
injunction is granted; and (4) the injunction will not
undermine the public interest. See Valley v. Rapides
Parish School Board, 118 F.3d 1047, 1051 (5th Cir.
1997); see also Ingebresten v. Jackson Public School
District, 88 F.3d 274, 278 (5th Cir. 1996); Doe v.
Duncanville Independent School District, 994 F.2d 160,
163 (5th Cir. 1993); Holland American Insurance
Co. v. Succession of Roy, 777 F.2d 992, 997 (5th Cir.
1985). A preliminary injunction is therefore an
“extraordinary remedy” which should be granted
only if the movant has clearly carried the burden of
persuasion on all four of the above prerequisites.
Mississippi Power & Light v. United Gas Pipe Line
Co., 760 F.2d 618, 621 (5th Cir. 1985). As a result,
“[t]he decision to grant a preliminary injunction is to
be treated as the exception rather than the rule.”
Id. Plaintiff has not established that the
extraordinary remedy is warranted in this case.
noted, this lawsuit challenges a prison policy that prohibits
inmates confined on extended lockdown from receiving outside
reading materials. The defendants argue that the challenged
policy is constitutional because it is reasonably related to
a legitimate penological goal: the maintenance of prison
discipline. They further note that a similar policy was
upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Beard v.
Banks, 548 U.S. 521 (2006), and that this particular
policy was previously upheld in this Court in Tyson v.
LeBlanc, Civ. Action No. 10-1174, 2010 WL 5375955 (E.D.
La. Nov. 19, 2010) (Wilkinson, M.J.), adopted, 2010
WL 5376330 (E.D. La. Dec. 15, 2010) (Berrigan, J.),
aff'd, 431 Fed.Appx. 371 (5th Cir. 2011). In
light of those precedents, the undersigned cannot say that
there is a substantial likelihood that plaintiff will
ultimately succeed on the merits of his claim, at least to
the extent that he is challenging the prohibition on
nonlegal, nonreligious leisure reading materials.
their motion for summary judgment, the defendants state that
plaintiff's claim “does not involve a denial of
access to legal or religious material - the plaintiff simply
claims a denial of leisure reading material.”
Rec. Doc. 32-3, p. 3 (emphasis in original). That is not
technically accurate. It is true that plaintiff does not
expressly mention legal or religious materials in his
original complaint. However, he does so in his other filings.
example, in his motion for a preliminary injunction, he
mentions legal publications: “In this case, the
complete prohibition on secular and legal newspapers; secular
and legal magazines and secular and legal books prevents the
plaintiff and other offenders from receiving suitable access
to social, political, esthetic, moral and other ideas which
are central to the development and preservation of individual
identity and are clearly protected by the first
Amendment.” Rec. Doc. 13, p. 2. Again in his proposed
Order, he asks the court to order defendants to show cause
why a preliminary injunction should not issue as a result of
defendants “unreasonably abridging Rayburn Correctional
Center's Maximum Custody offenders of all access to buy
and receive free secular and legal newspapers, secular and
legal magazines, and secular and legal books.”
Id. at pp. 8-9. Likewise, in his opposition to the
defendants' motion for summary judgment, which he filed
last month, plaintiff specifically alleges that he was also
denied “legal publication[s]” and “legal
periodicals.” Rec. Doc. 38, p. 4.
same opposition, plaintiff also mentions the denial of
religious materials for the first time. He declares under
penalty of perjury that he was denied “Jewish religious
reading material from Michael D. Evans Ministries.”
Id. Further, he provides a “Publications
Notice of Rejection” which indicates that a publication
from that source was in fact rejected by prison officials
pursuant to USOPP #34. Id. at p. 19. In his
statement of disputed facts, he also suggests that
“Rayburn allows only Christian materials and has
refused plaintiff Jewish material” and that
“Rayburn allow[s] Christian offender chaplains to bring
Christian newspapers, books, newsletter and other Christian
reading material to offenders on level one and level two but
Rayburn do[es] not allow Jewish, Wicca or other faiths to
pass out such reading material.” Id. at pp.
pro se cases, the Court must consider the
“complaint under the less stringent standards
applicable to pro se litigants” and is
“required to look beyond the [plaintiff's] formal
complaint and to consider as amendments to the complaint
those materials subsequently filed.” Howard v.
King, 707 F.2d 215, 220 (5th Cir. 1983). Accordingly,
the Court construes plaintiff's claim to encompass legal
and religious publications, as well as publications of a
purely leisure nature.
at this point, plaintiff's allegations concerning the
legal and religious publications are cursory at best. Without
more specificity and supporting evidence showing precisely
how the denial of the particular publications at issue have
adversely impacted his access to the courts and/or the
exercise of his religion, the Court simply cannot say that,
even with respect to those publications, plaintiff has at
this point met his burden to establish that there is a
substantial likelihood that he will ultimately succeed on the
merits on those aspects of his claim.
for the following reasons, the Court finds that plaintiff has
likewise failed to carry his burden with respect to the
remaining three criteria for a preliminary injunction.
plaintiff is clearly frustrated by the policy limiting his
access to publications, he has not alleged, much less shown,
that a substantial threat of irreparable harm exists
if a preliminary injunction is not granted.
on the record currently before it, this Court also cannot say
that the purported injury to plaintiff resulting from the
policy outweighs the harm to the defendants if the injunction
is granted or that the injunction would not undermine the
contrary, as noted, the defendants have alleged that the
policy is necessary as a means to maintain prison discipline.
Prison officials are granted a high degree of deference on
such matters concerning prison administration. See
Overton v. Bazzetta, 539 U.S. 126, 132 (2003) (“We
must accord substantial deference to the professional
judgment of prison administrators, who bear a significant
responsibility for defining the legitimate goals of a