Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Greenhill v. Clarke

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

December 6, 2019

ALFONZA HARDY GREENHILL, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
HAROLD W. CLARKE, Director of the State of Virginia Department of Corrections; A. DAVID ROBINSON, Chief of Corrections Operations of the State of Virginia Department of Corrections; EARL BARKSDALE, Warden of Red Onion State Prison, Defendants - Appellees. DAN PACHOLKE, former corrections official; JEANNE WOODFORD, former corrections official; PHIL STANLEY, former corrections official; DICK MORGAN, former corrections official; ELDON VAIL, former corrections official; PROFESSORS AND PRACTITIONERS OF PSYCHIATRY, PSYCHOLOGY, AND MEDICINE; MUSLIM ADVOCATES; RECONSTRUCTIONIST RABBINCAL ASSOCIATION; INTERFAITH ALLIANCE FOUNDATION, Amici Supporting Appellant.

          Argued: October 31, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, at Roanoke. James P. Jones, District Judge. (7:16-cv-00068-JPJ-RSB)

         ARGUED:

          Daniel Mark Greenfield, NORTHWESTERN PRITZKER SCHOOL OF LAW, Chicago, Illinois, for Appellant.

          Toby Jay Heytens, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF VIRGINIA, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          David M. Shapiro, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, NORTHWESTERN PRITZKER SCHOOL OF LAW, Chicago, Illinois, for Appellant. Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, Victoria N. Pearson, Deputy Attorney General, Laura H. Cahill, Assistant Attorney Counsel, Matthew R. McGuire, Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Michelle S. Kallen, Deputy Solicitor General, Brittany M. Jones, John Marshall Fellow, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF VIRGINIA, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.

          Elizabeth Hagerty, Claudia Pare, Washington, D.C., Allen P. Pegg, HOGAN LOVELLS U.S. LLP, Miami, Florida, for Amici Former Corrections Officials Dan Pacholke, Jeanne Woodford, Phil Stanley, Dick Morgan, and Eldon Vail. Michael P. Doss, SIDLEY AUSTIN LLP, Chicago, Illinois, for Amici Professors and Practitioners of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Medicine. Johnathan J. Smith, Sirine Shebaya, Matthew W. Callahan, MUSLIM ADVOCATES, Washington, D.C., for Amici Muslim Advocates, The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and Interfaith Alliance Foundation.

          Before NIEMEYER and AGEE, Circuit Judges, and Thomas S. KLEEH, United States District Judge for the Northern District of West Virginia, sitting by designation.

          NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge.

         Proceeding pro se, Alfonza Greenhill, an inmate at Red Onion State Prison in Pound, Virginia, commenced this action against officials of the Virginia Department of Corrections (the "VDOC") under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA") and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, alleging that the VDOC was denying him the ability to practice central tenets of his Muslim religion. Specifically, he alleged that the VDOC had denied his request to participate, directly or by television, in a Friday prayer service known as Jum'ah and interfered with his ability to maintain a beard of approximately four inches in length. The VDOC justified its actions with respect to Jum'ah services by noting that Greenhill is committed to restrictive housing because of an extensive record of disciplinary infractions, and therefore, as a matter of policy, he is denied the "privilege" of television access. It also acknowledged that Greenhill has been unwilling to participate in its "Step-Down Program," which is designed to encourage him to earn a reduction in restrictions and through which he could earn access to a television, allowing him to participate in Jum'ah every Friday through the prison's closed-circuit broadcast. With respect to the length of Greenhill's beard, the VDOC defended its grooming policy as necessary to promote safety, security, and sanitation. Recently, however, it adopted a new grooming policy that supplants the policy Greenhill challenged in the district court.

         The district court accepted the VDOC's justification for denying Greenhill television access and found that its then-existing grooming policy did not substantially burden Greenhill's religious exercise. Accordingly, it granted summary judgment to the VDOC.

         Because we find the VDOC's stated justifications for denying Greenhill access to Jum'ah and interfering with his ability to maintain a four-inch beard invalid under both RLUIPA and the First Amendment, we vacate the district court's judgment and remand for further proceedings.

         I

         Greenhill is serving a 15-year sentence for committing various crimes, including assault, robbery, and the illegal use of a firearm, and he is currently incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison. Because of numerous and ongoing disciplinary violations, Greenhill has been classified as a Security Level S inmate - a classification given to inmates with a "pattern of excessive violent disciplinary charges reflecting inability to adjust to a lower level of supervision." Accordingly, he is segregated from the general prison population. The VDOC operates a "Step-Down Program," which incentivizes inmates to transition to less restrictive security levels by offering increasingly greater privileges for good behavior, but Greenhill has refused to participate in the Program. As a result of his refusal, as well as additional disciplinary issues, Greenhill has been assigned to Special Management-Zero ("SM-0") status, which, as the Program's most restrictive level, relegates inmates to what amounts to solitary confinement and imposes the greatest limitations on their activities.

         As an SM-0 inmate, Greenhill is confined alone to a small cell with limited daily exercise time and restricted contacts with others. Under VDOC policies, he is not eligible to hold a job, participate in group activities, or keep a personal television in his cell. To advance to less restrictive levels under the Step-Down Program, Greenhill would have to "(i) [e]liminate disciplinary infractions[;] (ii) [m]eet a set of responsible behavior goals[; and] (iii) [p]articipate in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.