United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, WITH
Honorable Paul L. Maloney, Judge
lawsuit, Plaintiff Leonard Bradford, a prisoner under the
control of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC),
asserts claims arising from the MDOC's denial of his
request for a pendant, a Circle Seven Charm worn by members
of the Morrish Science Temple of American Reincarnate
(MSTAR). This matter comes before the Court on a
Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 118) issued by the
magistrate judge, who recommends denying the cross motions
for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 108 and 110). Defendants filed
objections (ECF No. 119) and Plaintiff filed a response (ECF
being served with a report and recommendation (R&R)
issued by a magistrate judge, a party has fourteen days to
file written objections to the proposed findings and
recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b). A district court judge reviews de novo the portions of
the R&R to which objections have been filed. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Only those objections
that are specific are entitled to a de novo review under the
statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th
Cir. 1986) (per curiam). The Court has reviewed the motions,
the R&R, the objections and response.
magistrate judge recommends dismissing, as moot,
Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Patison. (R&R at
2 PageID.645.) Neither party objects to this recommendation.
Because Patison is no longer with the MDOC, Plaintiff cannot
obtain any relief from Patison. The recommendation to dismiss
Patison is ADOPTED.
magistrate judge found conflicting evidence (A)
"regarding whether allowing plaintiff to possess the
Circle Seven Charm places him in a real position of authority
over other prisoners, and [(B)] whether it poses a real
rather than an exaggerated threat to prison security."
(R&R at 12 PageID.655.)
Whether Possessing a Circle Seven Charm Puts Plaintiff in a
Position of Authority Over Other Prisoners. For this factual
conclusion, he magistrate judge found a genuine issue of
object, asserting a lack of a genuine dispute that possession
of the charm would give Bradford some authority over other
prisoners. Plaintiff contends the charm does not establish a
hierarchy and that Bradford's authority to determine who
could get a charm was limited.
this recommendation, the R&R is ADOPTED AND SUPPLEMENTED.
To be clear, the magistrate judge accurately described the
evidentiary record on this point as mixed. This factual
conclusion, however, was not precisely what Defendants argued
in their motion. Accordingly, the Court will supplement the
factual conclusions in the R&R.
argued that the charm should be prohibited as a security
interest. Defendants explained that, for security reasons,
prisoners are not allowed to have authority, not even limited
authority, over each other. (ECF No. 109-4 Leach Aff.
PageID.528.) If Plaintiff were permitted to possess the
charm, then the charm must be made available to all members
of MSTAR. But, Plaintiff has testified that he would be able
to have some influence on the decision whether a prisoner has
demonstrated the required knowledge to be recognized as an
adept, and thus entitled to possess the charm.
remains a genuine issue of material fact whether possession
of the charm by any MSTAR member would constitute symbol of
rank or hierarchy. The testimony in the record establishes
that all members of MSTAR would be entitled to the charm, but
only after being made a sheik or being recognized as an
adept. (ECF No. 111-1 Bradford Dep. at 35 PageID.557.) In
both cases, the individual seeking the charm has demonstrated
certain knowledge and has learned certain rituals.
(Id. at 36-37 PageID.557-58.; ECF No. 111-2
Anderson-Bey Dep. at 20 PageID.570.) However, achieving the
status of adept and possessing the charm does not impute rank
or authority over others. (Anderson-Bey Dep. at 20
PageID.570.) And, only an MSTAR grand sheik would have the
authority to order a member to stop wearing the charm.
(Anderson-Bey Dep. at 25 PageID.571.)
is no genuine dispute of material fact that Plaintiff would
have some influence on the determination that a prisoner
would be recognized as adept by MSTAR. Testimony in the
record establishes that Plaintiff possesses a certificate
from MSTAR designating him as an imam, or local teacher.
(Bradford Dep. at 30 PageID.556 and at 50 PageID.561.) As a
local teacher, Plaintiff acts as the imam or "spiritual
head" of whatever prison community he is in."
(Id. at 30 PageID.556.) Finally, testimony in the
record establishes that Plaintiff, as the local teacher,
would have some input on the decision whether an individual
meets the criteria for wearing the charm, although MSTAR
officials outside the prison make the final decision, they
would trust Plaintiff's judgment. (Id. at 37
Court, therefore, supplements the R&R with the following
factual conclusions. First, there is no genuine issue of
material fact that possession of the Circle Seven Charm can
be a symbol of hierarchy for MSTAR members. The charm is
available to all members of MSTAR only after they have
obtained and demonstrated certain knowledge and
understanding. Although all members may be entitled to the
charm, that entitlement comes only when conditions are
although there is evidence that the charm is a hierarchical
symbol, the record is mixed as to whether possession of the
charm imputes any authority over other prisoners.
Plaintiff's authority over other prisoners would not
arise from his possession of the charm, but because he is the
individual who has influence over the decision about who
should become an adept. There is no genuine issue of material
fact that Plaintiff, as the local teacher, would have some
influence over the decision whether a member of MSTAR has met
those conditions. Without personal knowledge of the
individual, the MSTAR officials outside the prison deciding
who can get the charm would have to rely on Plaintiff's
Whether Allowing Prisoners to Possess a Circle Seven Charm
Poses a Threat to Prison Security. The magistrate judge found
a genuine issue of material fact on this conclusion. Although
the MDOC asserted prison security as a compelling state
interest, the magistrate judge concluded the MDOC did not
provide any evidence that a complete ...