Harris v. Hill et al
ORDER adopting 11 Report and Recommendations, denying 9 Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Motion for Permanent Injunction, and denying 10 Motion for the court to issue an order telling the prison officials not to cut my hair. The United States is dismissed from this case as an improper party. Plaintiff's equal protection and retaliation claims are dismissed for failure to state a claim. Signed by Chief Judge J. Randal Hall on 09/15/2020. (thb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
BERNARD HILL, etaL,
After a careful de novo review ofthe entire record,the Court concurs with
the Magistrate Judge's August 27, 2020, Report and Recommendation, doc. 11,
to which the plaintiff has filed objections, doc. 14. The Court ADOPTS the
Report and Recommendation as its opinion. Doc. 11.
Plaintiff objects to the dismissal ofthe Unites States as a party because he
incorrectly believes that the state of Georgia and the Georgia Department of
Corrections are instrumentalities of the federal government. Doc. 14 at 1. In
support of this argument, he cites to a definition taken form a section of the
Federal Code governing Federal Debt Collection Procedures, which is irrelevant
to this action. Id.; see also, 28 U.S.C. § 3001(a) ("Except as provided in
subsection (b), the chapter provides the exclusive civil procedures for the
United States (1] to recover a judgment on a debt; or [2) to obtain, before
judgment on a claim for a debt, a remedy in connection with such claim."]}.
Even if this section were applicable, he has articulated no discernable argument
for why defining a state as "any of the several States, the District of Columbia,
the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern
Marianas, or any territory or possession of the United States," 28 U.S.C. §
3002(14], creates liability in the federal government for actions under the sole
authority of a state government. Plaintiffs position eschews the fundamental
concepts of federalism that have been a cornerstone of the American model of
government for more than two centuries. As such,his objection to the dismissal
of the United States as a party is overruled.
Plaintiff objects to the dismissal of his equal protection claims by
suggesting disparate treatment in that "other Protestant sects who get to have
baptisms and Muslims who get to grow beards and practice their religion." Doc.
14 at 2. This is essentially a reiteration of the argument dismissed by the
Magistrate Judge as insufficient to demonstrate that he and the identified other
religious practitioners were sufficiently similar. Doc. 11 at 10.
Even if the Court were to accept the overly general position that
individuals engaged in different religious practices are similarly situated, mere
disparate treatment without an invidious purpose is not enough to offend the
Equal Protection Clause. See E&T Realty v. Strickland, 830 F.2d 1107, 1114
(11th Cir. 1987], cert denied, 485 U.S. 961 (1988] (holding that intentional
discrimination is required for an equal protection claim). The closest that
plaintiff comes to alleging such intent is claiming that he was told that the
Georgia Department of Corrections does not formally acknowledge his faith.
Doc. 14 at 2. Without more, plaintiff has failed to sufficiently allege that not
excusing him from a policy applicable to the general prison population is an
invidious or intentional act of discrimination. As such, the plaintiffs objection
to the recommendation that his equal protection claim be denied is overruled.
Plaintiffs objection to the dismissal of his retaliation claims similarly
reiterates the arguments of his complaint. He alleges that his assignment to
lockdown was in response to a religious exercise and, therefore, was
retaliatory. Doc. 12 at 2. In support of this position, he points to exhibits
attached to his complaint. Id. He does not, however, address the Magistrate's
concerns that these documents suggest that the punishment was based on a
failure to follow instructions,insubordination,and the making of verbal threats,
not religious practice. Doc. 11 at 12-13 (citing doc.8 at 4). Nor does he contest
the application of the Eleventh Circuit's repeated holding that grooming
policies,such as the one challenged, do not infringe on a constitutional right. Id.
Therefore, his objection to the recommendation that his retaliation claim be
dismissed is overruled.
Plaintiffs final objections concern the Magistrate Judge's denial of his
various requests for injunctive relief. First, he objects to the Magistrate having
reconstrued the requests for injunctive relief to be against the Georgia
Department of Corrections, rather than the United States. Doc. 14 at 2-3. As
discussed above, this objection is fundamentally flawed as the United States is
not a proper party to this case, regardless of the nature of the relief sought.
Plaintiff's objections to the more substantive aspects of the Magistrate's
recommendation are also inadequate. The Magistrate Judge recommended that
the motions be denied as plaintiff failed to satisfy any of the necessary
requirements for the issuance of injunctive relief: (1) likelihood of success on
the merits; [2) risk of irreparable injury;  the balance of harms were the
relief granted; and (4] the impact on the public interest. Doc. 11 at 13-16. In
attempting to address these points, plaintiff offers only conclusory statements
without justification or explanation. Doc. 14 at 3. For example, as to the risk of
irreparable injury, plaintiff avers "[ijrreparable mental, emotional, spiritual,
and life[-]threatening injury will be suffered if reliefis not granted." Id. He does
not provide any explanation to as to what type of mental,emotional,or spiritual
injury might be suffered, nor does he suggest any reason that his life is
threatened. He also does not address the Magistrate's observation that any
potential spiritual injury has already been suffered and could not be corrected
by a subsequent injunction. Doc. 11 at 16. As such, plaintiffs conclusory
objections to the recommendation that the motions for injunctive relief be
denied are overruled.
Accordingly, the Court overrules plaintiffs objection and ADOPTS the
Report and Recommendation as its opinion. Doc. 11. The United States is
DISMISSED from this case as an improper party. Plaintiffs equal protection
and retaliation claims are also DISMISSED for failure to state a claim. The
motions for injunctive relief are DENIED. Docs.9 & 10.
SO ORDERED,this l^h day of Septei
>AL HALI/CHIEF JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
'HERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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