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Young v. McKee

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division

July 16, 2019

DEMARCUS T. YOUNG #753683, Plaintiff,
v.
KENNETH T. MCKEE, et al., Defendants.

          Hon. Paul L. Maloney, U.S. District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MAARTEN VERMAAT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Introduction

         This is a civil rights action brought by state prisoner Demarcus T. Young pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Young alleges that during his confinement at the Alger Correctional Facility, Defendants MDOC Deputy Director Kenneth T. McKee and Special Activities Coordinator David Leach refused to recognize Young's religion and provide Young with a religious meal.

         Young requests that the MDOC recognize “Truition” as a religion and provide him one meal at night consisting of 2600 to 3000 calories of organic and natural food. Young explains that Truition members consume only one meal per day.

         Young founded the Truition religion in 2009, and states that he is known as “Truition God Supreme, the wise soul of the universal TRUITION WORLD.” (ECF No. 78, PageID.825.) In June or July of 2016, Young requested that Defendants recognize Truition as a religion within the MDOC. (ECF No. 1., PageID.6-7.) On January 4, 2017, Young's request was denied by Defendant McKee, and on January 23, 2017, his request was denied by Defendant Leach. (Id. at PageID.7.)

         Young says he has followed Truition beliefs since he developed his religion. Young says he believes “in the universal absolute truth” and practices daily meditation. (ECF No. 78, PageID.820.) Young believes that all followers of Truition are “the true and living supreme beings Truition Gods and Goddesses of the Universe and that the holy Qu'ran and Bible [are] the true and proper guidance . . . [of] supreme beings.” (Id.) Young also celebrates the “Purification Day.” Young describes his religion as “simply the natural way of life and in fact is life.” (Id. at PageID.830.)

         Young requests that the MDOC recognize the Truition religion and provide Truition members with an appropriate religious meal. In addition, Young states that prisoners should be allowed a (1) Qu'ran or Bible, (2) meditation mat, (3) Truition flag to symbolize independence and sovereignty, (4) soldier's tag and badge, (5) Ring of Life, (6) Nationality Card/Identification Card, (7) birth certificate showing “re-birth . . . in the spirit of Truition” and (8) Truition Mane to symbolize wisdom and pure energy. (ECF No. 78, PageID.829.)

         Young asserts that Defendants violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the First Amendment, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). Young requests a declaratory ruling that Defendants violated his constitutional and statutory rights and that his beliefs are religious. Young further requests injunctive relief, including an order directing religious services and religious meals. Young also seeks punitive damages.

         Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 69) and Young has filed a motion to strike part of their supporting affidavits. (ECF No. 79.)

         The undersigned respectfully recommends that the Court (1) deny Young's motion to strike portions of Defendants' affidavits, and (2) grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         Motion to Strike

         Young asks this Court to strike statements in Defendants' affidavits because he argues that Defendants expressed their opinions, lied, and made hearsay statements. Young is free to disagree with Defendants' affidavits and present contradictory evidence that could create an issue of fact. However, Young fails to assert any valid reason to strike any relevant portion of Defendants' affidavits. Any affidavit statements used in this recommendation will be referenced.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there are no genuine issues as to any material fact in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Kocak v. Comty. Health Partners of Ohio, Inc., 400 F.3d 466, 468 (6th Cir. 2005). The standard for determining whether summary judgment is appropriate is “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. McGowan, 421 F.3d 433, 436 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). The court must consider all pleadings, depositions, affidavits, and admissions on file, and draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Adkins, 400 F.3d 293, 296 (6th Cir. 2005).

         Analysis

         1. RLUIPA

         Young asserts that it is “clearly undisputed” that his beliefs or practice are religious and sincerely held.[1] (ECF No. 78, PageID.824.) He argues that Defendants have substantially burdened his right to practice his religious beliefs. Young points to several reasons supporting his argument that his religious practice is substantially burdened by the denial of his request for MDOC recognition of his religion.

1. “[I]t is essential that the Truition body summons the source of higher intelligences as part of Truition rituals at least three times a month seeking pure energy wisdom and enlightment . . . .” (ECF No. 78, PageID.836.)
2. Denial of Truition services “forces him to choose between this vital tenant . . . of his religion.” (Id.)
3. He must meditate three times per month “as the Family of God harmonizing our absolute unity as the Truition body . . . .” (Id.)
4. He must “study and active[ely] demonstrate our absolute unity as the Family of God to enjoy the blessings and ...

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