Charest v. Jones et al (INMATE 2)
ORDER denying 1 Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, as further set out in order; further ORDERED that this case is REFERRED to the assigned Magistrate Judge for action or recommendation on all pretrial matters. Signed by Honorable Judge Mark E. Fuller on 5/16/2012. (wcl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
PATRICK J. CHAREST,
KENNETH JONES, Warden, STEPHEN
WALKER, Chaplain, et al.,
Case No. 2:12-cv-428-MEF-SRW
Patrick Charest, a prisoner at Bullock Correctional Facility, has filed a complaint
that contains what this Court construes as a motion for a temporary restraining order.
(Doc. # 1.) Charest alleges that the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) invited
a number of Christian chaplains to come speak to the prisoners housed at Bullock.
According to Charest, instead of giving the prisoners the option of attending the event,
the prison guards packed the inmates into the prison’s gymnasium and forced them to
listen to the religious speakers. Charest, a Jehovah’s Witness, says he found this deeply
offensive, and he alleges that forcing him to sit through the program violated his
constitutional rights. Hence the § 1983 action he has filed.
As for the temporary restraining order alluded to at the outset, the last line of
Charest’s complaint asks “for immediate protection” from retaliation by the ADOC.
From as best the Court can tell, Charest believes the guards at Bullock will retaliate
against him for filing his complaint, and so he wants a prophylactic order guarding
against this potential harm. Out of an abundance of caution, the Court will also construe
his complaint as asking for an order barring prison officials from forcing him to sit
through similar prison-sponsored religious gatherings in the future. Because Charest
brings suit as a pro se litigant, the Court must construe his complaint liberally. Alba v.
Montford, 517 F.3d 1249, 1252 (11th Cir. 2008). Thus, the portion of his action
construed as requesting a temporary restraining order will be treated under the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure as a Rule 65(b) motion for a temporary restraining order.
Rule 65 restricts a court’s ability to grant a temporary injunctive relief. To
overcome the rule’s restrictions, a plaintiff must make clear from “specific facts shown
by affidavit or by the verified complaint that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or
damage will result to the applicant.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(b). The Eleventh Circuit has held
that this requires the plaintiff to show the following: (1) a substantial likelihood of
success on the merits; (2) that irreparable injury will be suffered unless the injunction
issues; (3) that the threatened injury to the moving party outweighs whatever damages the
proposed injunction may cause the opposing party; and (4) if issued, the injunction would
not be adverse to the public interest. Palmer v. Braun, 287 F.3d 1325, 1329 (11th Cir.
2002).1 A temporary restraining order is “an extraordinary and drastic remedy not to be
Rule 65 also has a procedural component. But since Charest cannot meet the rule’s substantive
standards, the Court need not concern itself with addressing the procedural issues. See Moore v. Bentley,
12-cv-62, 2012 WL 204163, at *1 n.2 (M.D. Ala. Jan. 24, 2012).
granted unless the movant clearly establishe[s] the burden of persuasion” as to each of
these four elements. McDonald’s Corp. v. Robertson, 147 F.3d 1301, 1306 (11th Cir.
1998) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
Here, Charest has failed to shoulder his weighty burden. His failure to allege that
the prison will cause him any imminent harm dooms his claim as he cannot show that he
will suffer irreparable injury unless an injunction issues. Moreover, even if this Court
granted the requested relief, “it would be impossible to administer because [he] is seeking
a restraining order against alleged future retaliation.” Bieros v. Nicola, 857 F. Supp. 445
(E.D. Pa. 1994). Granting relief would thus require crafting an order preventing “persons
from doing something that is entirely speculative in nature,” id., given that the named
defendants have neither made retaliatory threats nor scheduled another religious
ceremony similar to the one of which Charest complains. Accordingly, Charest’s Motion
for a Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. # 1) is DENIED. It is further ORDERED that
this case is REFERRED to the assigned Magistrate Judge for action or recommendation
on all pretrial matters.
Done this the 16th day of May, 2012.
/s/ Mark E. Fuller
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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