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Clover v. Smith

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 10, 2017

SEAN CLOVER, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Sean Clover, an Indiana inmate, brings this action alleging that, while he was incarcerated at the Correctional Industrial Facility (“CIF”), his right to practice his religion guaranteed by the First Amendment was violated when Friday Islamic Jummah prayer time was modified from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. to 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.[1] The remaining defendant, Chaplain Smith, moves for summary judgment and Clover has responded. For the following reasons, Smith's motion for summary judgment [dkt 28] is granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party must be believed and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's favor. Hemsworth v., Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007); Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”). However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490. Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).

         II. Facts

         During the time that Clover's claims in this case arose, he was incarcerated at CIF and Smith was the Chaplain at that facility. In August of 2015, Clover filed an informal grievance regarding the scheduling of Islamic Jummah. Jummah is an Islamic community prayer service, conducted on Fridays, which involves a sermon by an Imam, followed by a prayer.

         On August 25, 2015, Chaplain Smith responded to Clover's informal grievance noting that “all chapel movement is from 12-2:00 p.m. for all groups, ” and that he “consulted with Islamic Chaplain Aleem prior to and after scheduling Islam groups.”[2] In further investigation of his grievance, on September 9, 2015, Chaplain Smith indicated to Superintendent Wendy Knight that other facilities visited by Islamic Chaplain Aleem, including Miami Correctional Facility, Indiana State Penitentiary, and Pendleton Correctional Facility, have their Jummah services the same time as CIF.

         Chaplain Smith does not dispute that Clover's desire for a different time for Jummah is based on his sincerely held beliefs, but explains that CIF offers general services, intended to accommodate a wide variety of Muslim practices, and does not adopt the practices of any specific Muslim sect. Clover could continue to attend Friday services with the general Muslim community in corporate worship.[3] CIF weekly religious services balance the needs of corporate worship and accommodating a wide variety of Muslim practices and times when volunteers could be present at the facility.

         David Liebel is the Director of Religious and Volunteer Services for the IDOC. As the Director of Religious and Volunteer Services for the IDOC, he oversees religious and volunteer policies, and provides technical assistance to facilities. On September 15, 2015, Liebel responded to Clover's Level II Formal Grievance Appeal stating that “There are a variety of teachings and understandings of the proper time for Jummah, whether it may be combined with other prayers. It is impossible for the IDOC to accommodate every understanding, nor does the department attempt to state which view is correct.”

         Correctional Industrial Facility Policy and Operational Procedure 01-03-101, is the policy governing religious programs and worship services. Operational Procedure 01-03-101 provides the policy for approval of religious programs and worship services. It provides in part that: “Religious programs approved by the Facility Head/designee shall be scheduled in an equitable manner and with regard to facility security, order, resources, and manageability. Staff shall be assigned to supervise religious programs as needed to provide adequate security and orderliness.” The IDOC currently houses approximately 1, 150 Muslim offenders.

         The IDOC utilizes to calculate prayer times, which is endorsed by the Islamic Society of North America, and approved by Muslim staff chaplains at the IDOC. Clover can continue to attend Friday Jummah with the general Muslim community every week.

         III. Discussion

         Chaplain Smith moves for summary judgment on Clover's claim, arguing that he is entitled to qualified immunity. “Qualified immunity protects officers performing discretionary functions from civil liability so long as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights that a reasonable person would know about.” Mustafa v. City of Chicago, 442 F.3d 544, 548 (7th Cir. 2006). Analysis of the qualified immunity defense requires a consideration of: (1) whether the plaintiff's statutory or constitutional rights were violated and (2) whether the right was clearly established at the time. Id. “To be clearly established, a right must be sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he is doing violates that right.” Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 741 (2011). Courts may decide qualified-immunity cases on the ground that a defendant's action did not violate a clearly established right without reaching the question of whether a constitutional right was violated at all. See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).

         Smith argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity because there is no clearly established law that the rescheduling of prayer time at issue here violated Clover's First Amendment rights. Smith states that the scheduling of Jummah was based on a consideration of multiple factors, including the accommodation of other Muslim prisoners and volunteers to lead the service. It also included consultation with a Muslim Chaplain regarding the calculation of prayer times. Smith further points out that Clover was never excluded from ...

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