United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL ; PLAINTIFF'S MOTION OPPOSING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TAKE DEPOSITIONS OF THE PLAINTIFFS; OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO DELAY SUCH DEPOSITIONS UNTIL AFTER A CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER HAS BEEN ENTERED AND THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS, INCLUDING A MOTION FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL AND DISCOVERY, HAE BEEN RULED UPON BY THIS COURT ; AND MOTION TO STAY DEPOSITION 
MONA K. MAJZOUB, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Michael Arnold,  then a prisoner at the Central Michigan Correctional Facility (STF) in St. Louis, Michigan,  filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Daniel Heyns (Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC)), Michael Martin (Special Activities Coordinator for MDOC), and Brad Purves (Food Service Director for MDOC), in their official capacities, alleging that Defendants have violated Plaintiff's rights under the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 (RLUIPA), by implementing MDOC Policy Directive (P.D.) 05.03.150, under which MDOC replaced all previously offered religious menus with a Vegan menu. (Docket no. 1.) Plaintiff, an Orthodox Jew, seeks a declaratory judgment finding that Defendants have violated the First Amendment and RLUIPA by "forcing the Plaintiff to eat a religious diet that does not comport with [his] beliefs. (Id. at 14-15.) Plaintiff does not seek monetary damages.
Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel (docket no. 46), Motion Opposing Defendant's Motion to take Plaintiff's Deposition or to Delay His Deposition (docket no. 49), and Motion to Stay Deposition (docket no. 55). Defendants filed a Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Stay Deposition. (Docket no. 56.) All pretrial matters have been referred to the undersigned for consideration. (Docket no. 40.) The Court dispenses with oral argument pursuant to E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(e). The Motions are now ready for ruling.
MDOC Policy Directive 05.03.150, which took effect on July 26, 2013, states in relevant part as follows:
The Department offers a religious menu to meet the religious dietary needs of prisoners. The Department will begin offering a Vegan menu which will replace all currently approved religious menus on the following dates for the listed facilities:
1. The week of September 15, 2013:... Central Michigan Correctional Facility.
The Vegan menu shall comply with Kosher and Halal religious tenets. A prisoner who believes the Vegan menu does not meet his/her religious dietary needs may request an alternative menu. An alternative menu will be developed and provided only with approval of the Deputy Director and only if it is determined that the Vegan menu does not meet the religious dietary needs of the prisoner. All religious menus shall meet the minimum nutritional standards set forth in PD 04.07.100 "Offender Meals". The Deputy Director or designee shall determine at which facilities religious meals will be offered.
MDOC PD 05.03.150 (PP). When this vegan menu took effect, Prisoners who ate from the "main line" would continue to have a variety of foods available to them, including meat and dairy.
In their Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that "[they] are Orthodox Jews" and that "[t]heir religious beliefs do not command them to practice vegetarianism or to be a Vegan." (Docket no. 1 at 8.) Specifically, they allege that they are required to follow "the mitzvah (commandment) to eat meat and keep kosher;" that a Vegan diet is not a Kosher diet; that even if a Vegan diet could be Kosher, it "will not actually be kosher... because of how the MDOC washes its trays and utensils;" and that "MDOC could make Kosher meat products (and dairy products such as cheese) products (sic) available to Jewish prisoners for purchase, but is has chosen not to." (Id. at 10, 13.) Plaintiffs also filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order or for Preliminary Injunction. (Docket no. 3.)
On December 4, 2013, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Docket no. 14.) Plaintiffs filed a Response (docket no. 15), and on March 3, 2014, the undersigned recommended that the Court dismiss Plaintiffs' claims with regard to the MDOC's washing of trays and utensils and Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment Claims; the undersigned further recommended that the Court deny Plaintiffs' Motion for TRO or Preliminary Injunction. (Docket no. 16.)
On June 24, 2014, the Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction and dismissed Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claims but allowed all of Plaintiff's RLUIPA claims to survive. (Docket no. 28.) Plaintiffs also filed a Motion for Appointment of an Expert Witness (docket no. 22), Motion for Discovery (docket no. 24), and Motion for ...