Allah v. Commonwealth of Virginia et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge James P. Jones on 5/9/2017. (tvt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, ET
Case No. 7:16CV00002
By: James P. Jones
United States District Judge
Infinite Allah, Pro Se Plaintiff.
Infinite Allah, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that prison employees wrongfully searched
and confiscated legal files and religious materials related to his prior civil action.1
Upon review of Allah’s Complaint, I conclude that the action must be summarily
dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim.
This Opinion is issued in response to the remand by the court of appeals on the
ground that my previous dismissal of the Complaint, Allah v. Virginia, No.
7:16CV00002, 2016 WL 3911989 (W.D. Va. July 15, 2016), was not a final disposition
of the case because I did not address allegations that the defendants had searched Allah’s
incoming “legal mail outside of his presence.” Allah v. Virginia, No. 16-7021, 2017 WL
1200972, at *1 (4th Cir. Mar. 31, 2017) (unpublished). Accordingly, I have included in
this Opinion my prior determinations, as well as a resolution of the remaining allegations
as specified by the court of appeals.
Allah is an inmate at Augusta Correctional Center (“Augusta”). He is an
adherent of the Nation of Gods and Earths (“NGE”), a belief system that Allah
claims as a religion.
The Virginia Department of Corrections (“VDOC”),
however, has classified NGE inmates as a prison gang, officially referred to as a
Security Threat Group. VDOC policies restrict NGE inmates from meeting
communally, prohibit them from wearing NGE-related clothing, and prohibit
inmates from receiving or possessing copies of NGE publications and writings.
Allah, through counsel, brought a § 1983 action in this court in 2012, seeking
VDOC recognition of NGE as a religion, accommodation of his NGE religious
practices, and permission to possess NGE publications and writings. After a bench
trial, I rejected Allah’s claims. Allah v. Virginia, No. 2:12CV00033, 2014 WL
1669331 (W.D. Va. Apr. 28, 2014), aff’d, 601 F. App’x 201 (4th Cir.)
(unpublished), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 255 (2015).
According to Allah’s current Complaint, on November 18, 2013, a letter
arrived at Augusta from the court to Allah, returning to him some pro se materials
that he had mailed to this court for consideration in the prior Case No.
2:12CV00033. The letter informed Allah that pleadings in the case should be filed
with the court only “by his then attorney of record.” Compl. ¶ 47, ECF No. 1.
Allah states that he “was given [an opportunity] to sign the Legal mail Logbook as
receiving said legal mail, but he never received physical possession of it, upon the
defendants reading and confiscation thereof in his presence.” Id. at ¶ 20. When
Allah filed a grievance about the incident, the response was that “[a]ccording to
Sgt. Wilhelm, Investigator[,] the mailing did contain gang material which was
confiscated.” V.S. 7, Ex. 1, ECF No. 6. Allah describes the items confiscated on
November 18, 2013, as a “handwritten dissertation, thesis, and . . . other created
works by [Allah].” 2 Compl. ¶ 54, ECF No. 1. Allah estimates the monetary value
of these items at $40,525.74, and complains that the confiscation prevented him
from seeking copyright protection. Id. at ¶¶ 52, 56(a).
Allah also alleges that while the direct appeal in his prior case was pending,
he ran short of funds to continue to retain the attorney who had represented him up
to that point in the case. The attorney shipped the entire case file to Allah, and it
arrived at Augusta on December 30, 2014, in two medium-sized boxes “clearly
marked” as “legal package[s].” Id. at ¶ 49. “The defendants never provided
Allah’s grievance appeal about the confiscation of the November 2013 mailing
described the contents of the mailing in more detail. It contained a letter to me as
presiding judge, Allah’s pro se closing argument about the evidence presented at the
evidentiary hearing in October 2013, a list of NGE groups, documents drafted by Allah
and others that described NGE beliefs, an Asiatic calendar, and other legal materials. V.S.
9, Ex. 1, ECF No. 6.
[Allah] with notice of its receipt until May 23, 2015, after it was opened outside of
his presence and seized.”3 Id. at ¶ 17.
According to Allah, the two boxes of case-related materials that officials
searched and seized contained copies of court filings the attorney had prepared, as
well as “strategic assessment(s) of research into the legal and anthropological
particulars (expert witness’ deposition and writings on the subject at hand) [of]
plaintiff’s constitutional and spiritual standing in his civil action.” Id. at ¶ 18.
Allah provides a list of the “confiscated legal personal intellectual properties,”
including numerous NGE publications and Allah’s letters and written arguments to
the court about his NGE beliefs. Id. at ¶ 50. Allah alleges that the seized materials
have both monetary and sentimental value to him.
The defendants in this new civil action are Lieutenant Peters, Sergeant
Wilhelm, the prison itself, and the Commonwealth. Allah’s Complaint alleges
violations of his First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights
related to the search of legal mail outside of his presence, as well as to the seizure
of certain documents sent from the court and Allah’s former attorney. Liberally
Allah alleges that as a result of the delayed notice that his legal packages had
been received and confiscated in December 2014, he did not believe the assurances from
his prior attorney that the packages had been shipped. Allah says that “this lack of
information caused a divisive relationship between him and [his prior] attorney, which
was only reconciled upon the attorney mailing him the certified FedEx® receipts of the
mailing that was signed as received at [Augusta] on Dec[ember] 30, 2014.” Compl. ¶ 49,
ECF No. 1.
construed, his allegations suggest the following possible claims: (1) By searching
and confiscating Allah’s legal materials, the defendants violated his constitutional
rights (a) to substantive and procedural due process; (b) to engage in confidential
communications with counsel; and (c) to access the court; (2) The defendants
confiscated Allah’s materials in retaliation for his prior lawsuit; and (3) Allah is
entitled to recover physical possession of, or reimbursement for, his personal
property through this action in detinue under Virginia law. As relief on Claims
One and Two, Allah seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
The court is required to dismiss any action or claim filed by a prisoner
against a governmental entity or officer if the court determines the action or claim
is “frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.”
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). A court should not summarily dismiss an action for
failure to state a claim, however,
unless after accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff’s
complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from
those facts in the plaintiff’s favor, it appears certain that the plaintiff
cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to
De’Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003). 4 Thus, before serving
Allah’s case on any of the defendants, I must determine if his allegations state any
claim for relief.
Allah brings his federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1983, a statute that permits
an aggrieved party to file a civil action against a person for actions taken under
color of state law that violated his constitutional rights. See Cooper v. Sheehan,
735 F.3d 153, 158 (4th Cir. 2013). For the reasons stated, I conclude that Allah
has no actionable constitutional claim arising from his allegations and that all his
federal claims must be summarily dismissed with prejudice under § 1915A(b)(1).
Further, I decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Allah’s state law
action in detinue and will dismiss this claim without prejudice. See 28 U.S.C.
A. Federal Rights Not Implicated.
Allah has no legal basis for § 1983 claims against the Commonwealth or the
prison itself, because “neither a State nor its officials acting in their official
capacities are ‘persons’ under § 1983.” Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491
U.S. 58, 71 (1989). This rule also applies to “governmental entities that are
considered ‘arms of the State’ for Eleventh Amendment purposes.” Id. at 70.
Because Augusta is properly considered an arm of the Commonwealth of Virginia,
I have omitted internal quotation marks, alterations, and citations throughout this
opinion, unless otherwise noted.
it cannot be sued under § 1983. Therefore, I will summarily dismiss as frivolous
Allah’s constitutional claims against the Commonwealth and Augusta. Peters and
Wilhelm, for actions taken in their individual capacities, are subject to suit under
§ 1983. For different reasons, however, Allah also states no actionable claim
As another preliminary matter, Allah had no Fourth Amendment protection
against having his incoming legal mail opened and searched or read by prison
officials. Simply stated, “the Fourth Amendment proscription against unreasonable
searches does not apply within the confines of the prison cell.” Hudson v. Palmer,
468 U.S. 517, 526 (1984).
The Supreme Court has further held that an inmate has no protected right
under the Sixth Amendment to communicate confidentially or otherwise with his
attorney in a civil case. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 576 (1974) (“As to the
Sixth Amendment, its reach is only to protect the attorney-client relationship from
intrusion in the criminal setting.”). Instead, the Sixth Amendment provides a
criminal defendant a right to the effective assistance of counsel, including “the
ability to speak candidly and confidentially with counsel free from unreasonable
government interference.” Denius v. Dunlap, 209 F.3d 944, 953 (7th Cir. 2000).
“[A]n individual enjoys no protection provided by the Sixth Amendment until the
instigation of criminal proceedings against him.”
Id. Because the incoming
mailings at issue in this lawsuit bore no relationship to a criminal prosecution
Allah was defending through counsel, the Sixth Amendment did not protect him
against prison officials’ searching, reading, or confiscating communications from
counsel or from the court.
B. Opening and Inspecting of Legal Mail.
In Wolff v. McDonnell, the Supreme Court found limited protection under
the First and Fourteenth Amendments for inmates’ incoming legal mail. 418 U.S.
at 575. The Court noted:
While First Amendment rights of correspondents with prisoners may
protect against the censoring of inmate mail, when not necessary to
protect legitimate governmental interests, this Court has not yet
recognized First Amendment rights of prisoners in this context.
Furthermore, freedom from censorship is not equivalent to freedom
from inspection or perusal. . . . Finally, the Fourteenth Amendment
due process claim based on access to the courts, has not been
extended by this Court to apply further than protecting the ability of
an inmate to prepare a petition or complaint. Moreover, even if one
were to accept the argument that inspection of incoming mail from an
attorney placed an obstacle to access to the court, it is far from clear
that this burden is a substantial one. We need not decide, however,
which, if any, of the asserted rights are operative here, for the question
is whether, assuming some constitutional right is implicated, it is
infringed by the procedure now found acceptable by the State.
Id. at 575-76. The Court then proceeded to find constitutionally acceptable a state
procedure that required incoming legal mail to be opened and inspected, but not
read, in the presence of the inmate, so long as the mail was specially marked as
privileged and as originating from an attorney who had previously identified
himself and his attorney-client relationship with a particular inmate to prison
officials. Id. at 576-77. More precisely, the Court found that the mail policy
challenged in Wolff was “all, and perhaps even more, than the Constitution
requires.” Id. at 577.
Allah is not challenging the constitutionality of the VDOC’s general policy
for handling inmates’ incoming legal mail. Indeed, the current version of the
VDOC policy available online appears very similar to the policy approved in
See VDOC Operating Procedure (“OP”) 803.1(IV)(C)(1)(d)(ii). 5
policy states: “All incoming legal correspondence shall be opened and searched
for contraband only in the presence of the offender to whom it is addressed.” Id.
The definition of contraband includes “[a]ny correspondence, documents,
drawings, jewelry, symbols, or property of any type that contains or indicates gang
identifiers, language, or information.” OP 803.1(III). Correspondence “received
from verified attorneys” and federal court falls within the VDOC policy definition
of legal mail. Id. As the policy itself is not under challenge, I will address only the
constitutionality of Augusta officials’ opening and inspecting of Allah’s mailings.
Allah admits that when Augusta officials received the court’s letter to Allah
in November 2013, they followed the VDOC policy by notifying Allah and
opening and searching the mailing for contraband in his presence. Because the
Va. Dep’t of Corr., Operating Procedure 803.1, Offender Correspondence (eff.
Jan. 1, 2015), http://www.vadoc.virginia.gov/about/procedures/documents/800/803-1.pdf.
VDOC then classified NGE as a gang, the NGE writings in that mailing qualified
as contraband under VDOC policy. To identify them as contraband, officials had
to read them in sufficient detail to recognize NGE identifiers. Under Wolff, this
“perusal” of the mailing for contraband neither violated neither Allah’s First
Amendment right against censorship nor any constitutionally protected right to
confidential communications with counsel or access to the courts, since the mailing
was from the court. 418 U.S. at 576; Altizer v. Deeds, 191 F.3d 540, 548 (4th Cir.
1999) (finding practice of opening and reading all inmates’ outgoing legal mail to
search for contraband did not violate their constitutional rights). Moreover, Allah
received notice of the mailing, was present to observe its inspection and
confiscation as gang material, and had an opportunity to file grievances and
appeals about these events. See Mullane v. Cen. Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339
U.S. 306, 313 (1950) (stating that the Due Process Clause “require[s] that
deprivation of life, liberty or property . . . be preceded by notice and opportunity
for hearing appropriate to the nature of the case”). Thus, I find no procedural due
process claim here. For the stated reasons, I will summarily dismiss as frivolous
Allah’s § 1983 challenges to prison officials’ opening and inspection of the
November 18, 2013 mailing.
Taking Allah’s allegations as true, Augusta officials opened and inspected
the December 2014 packages from his attorney without timely notice to Allah and
outside his presence.
While such actions may have violated VDOC policies
governing legal mail and packages, a violation of a state prison policy, without
more, is not a ground for a federal civil rights action. See Jackson v. Sampson, 536
F. App’x 356, 357 (4th Cir. 2013) (unpublished) (holding that “prison officials’
failure to follow internal prison policies are not actionable under § 1983 unless the
alleged breach of policy rises to the level of constitutional violation”).
Moreover, Allah does not allege that the officers’ inspection of the
documents in the December 2014 packages had any particular adverse impact on
his ability to continue litigating his prior lawsuit pro se and the record reflects that
he pursued the case through certiorari proceedings in the Supreme Court.
Officials’ opening of an inmate’s legal mail outside his presence on one occasion,
with no evidence of a pattern or practice of doing so and no evidence of adverse
effects on the inmate’s litigation, does not rise to the level of a First or Fourteenth
Amendment violation. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351-52 (1996) (holding
that inmate claim of denial of access to court requires showing of actual injury to
legal claim); Guajardo-Palma v. Martinson, 622 F.3d 801, 806 (7th Cir. 2010)
“the interception of
communications with his lawyer is subject to harmless-error analysis; and this
must be true, and is, in prisoners’ civil litigation as well”). 6
Allah’s efforts to have these lawfully prohibited items mailed to him under
the guise of legal materials from his attorney suggest an intent to regain possession
of the items despite the prison’s contraband policy. As I will discuss further,
officials’ actions to prevent him from doing so were reasonably related to
legitimate penological interests in control of prison gangs, and belated notice of the
materials’ arrival and confiscation satisfied due process in this case.
C. Confiscation of Legal Mail.
“[I]nmates retain at least some constitutional rights despite incarceration,”
but those rights must be balanced against state interests in maintaining prison
safety and security. Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 223 (1990). Whatever
constitutionally protected right Allah had against having prison officials read or
confiscate his incoming mail from counsel or otherwise related to his civil lawsuit,
that right must be balanced against the prison’s legitimate interests in preventing
If Allah were challenging a practice or policy of opening and inspecting
inmates’ incoming mail from attorneys outside the inmate client’s presence, my analysis
of his claim would be more in-depth. See Jones v. Brown, 461 F.3d 353, 359 (3d Cir.
2006) (holding that “[a] state pattern and practice, or . . . explicit policy, of opening legal
mail outside the presence of the addressee inmate interferes with protected
communications, strips those protected communications of their confidentiality, and
accordingly impinges upon the inmate’s right to freedom of speech”). Because Allah
does not allege more than one instance of his mail from counsel being opened or
inspected outside his presence, however, I find no need for a discussion of the
constitutional requirements for prison legal mail policies.
gang-related materials from entering the prison environment.
standard for determining the validity of a prison regulation claimed to infringe on
an inmate’s constitutional rights is to ask whether the regulation is ‘reasonably
related to legitimate penological interests.’” Id. at 223.
To determine whether the prison officials’ reading or confiscation of Allah’s
lawsuit materials withstands scrutiny under this reasonableness standard, I must
consider these three factors:
First, there must be a valid, rational connection between the prison
regulation and the legitimate governmental interest put forward to
justify it. Second, a court must consider the impact accommodation
of the asserted constitutional right will have on guards and other
inmates, and on the allocation of prison resources generally. Third,
the absence of ready alternatives is evidence of the reasonableness of
a prison regulation.
Id. at 224-25 (citing Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89-91 (1987)).7 Under these
factors and my decisions in Allah’s prior case, I find it evident that the defendants’
searches and confiscations of Allah’s incoming legal materials in November 2013
and December 2014 were reasonably related to legitimate prison interests in safety
The Turner decision also discussed another factor: “[W]hether there are
alternative means of exercising the right that remain open to prison inmates.” 482 U.S. at
90. “Where other avenues remain available for the exercise of the asserted right, courts
should be particularly conscious of the measure of judicial deference owed to corrections
officials in gauging the validity of the regulation.” Id. Allah has no other means to
possess his NGE written materials. Under the other Turner factors, however, I conclude
that Allah’s constitutionally protected interests in his NGE materials are outweighed by
legitimate prison interests in security, whether or not Allah retains some other means to
exercise the rights he asserts.
First, in April 2014, I determined that prison officials had compelling
security reasons to prohibit inmates from possessing NGE materials in their cells
and could lawfully do so. My factual findings included the following:
NGE has acted as a prison gang that would pose a threat to the safety
and security of VDOC prison facilities if treated as other religious
groups. Inmates affiliated with NGE have a demonstrated history of
violence and racism.
NGE materials are often handwritten, and can vary from copy to copy.
Whether handwritten or typed, most contain racist and/or violent
sentiments. Additionally, most contain codes that have the potential
to aid inmates in passing messages that circumvent safety and security
in the prison.
Allah, 2014 WL 1669331, at *2. After extensive discussion of Allah’s claims and
the evidence presented at the bench trial, I made the following conclusions of law
regarding possession of NGE materials:
Due to the inability of VDOC to review all handwritten NGE
materials, and the frequency with which typed and handwritten NGE
materials contain codes, racist sentiments, and/or violent sentiments,
the decision of VDOC to ban such NGE materials is the least
restrictive means of furthering a compelling state interest in prison
Id. at *11. I denied relief under § 1983 and granted judgment for the defendants,
and the Fourth Circuit affirmed my decision. Allah, 601 F. App’x at 205 (“[W]e
discern no reversible error. We are therefore content to affirm the judgment on the
. . . Opinion of the district court.”).
Second, under the constitutional standard in Turner, I also conclude that
based on my factual findings and legal rulings in Allah’s previous case, the search
and seizure of Allah’s incoming legal mail related to that lawsuit and containing
NGE materials were lawful. Allah brought the claims in his prior lawsuit under the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc to
2000cc-5 (“RLUIPA”), rather than under the First Amendment.
To defeat a
RLUIPA challenge to a particular prison policy, VDOC must “prove its policy
furthers a compelling governmental interest by the least restrictive means.”
Incumaa v. Stirling, 791 F.3d 517, 525 (4th Cir. 2015). Thus, RLUIPA requires a
higher degree of proof from prison officials on the effects of accommodating an
inmate’s religious practices than does the First Amendment. See, e.g., Lovelace v.
Lee, 472 F.3d 174, 198 n.8 (4th Cir. 2006) (“RLUIPA adopts a more searching
standard of review than that used for parallel First Amendment claims, strict
scrutiny instead of reasonableness.”). As a result, when a prison policy withstands
scrutiny under the RLUIPA standard, as I have found that the VDOC’s prohibition
on possession of NGE materials does, that policy also survives a constitutional
challenge under Turner without further discussion. See, e.g., Utt v. Brown, No.
5:12-CT-3132-FL, 2015 WL 5714885, at *9 (E.D.N.C. Sept. 29, 2015) (finding
that policy held to withstand RLUIPA’s strict scrutiny was also “reasonably related
to legitimate penological interests” so as to withstand constitutional challenge).
Based on the foregoing, Allah has no actionable claim that prison officials’
searching, reading, or confiscating of his incoming legal mail items violated his
constitutionally protected rights. My prior ruling upholding under RLUIPA the
VDOC’s policies prohibiting possession of NGE materials establishes that those
policies are lawful under the Constitution and as applied to Allah’s NGE materials.
Thus, I conclude that those rulings rendered in Allah’s prior lawsuit foreclose any
free speech, search and seizure, access to courts, and substantive due process
claims in this civil action. Indeed, to hold otherwise would be to allow Allah to
make an end run around my prior ruling, as affirmed by the court of appeals, that
prison officials may lawfully prohibit him from possessing his NGE materials and
D. Procedural Due Process.
Allah’s procedural due process claim related to the confiscation of his
materials fails for a different reason:
he has no federally protected property
interest in possessing his NGE materials in a VDOC prison. An inmate’s claim
under § 1983 that state officials deprived him of his property without due process
involves two questions: whether the inmate had a protected right to the property
with which the state interfered and whether the procedures attendant to that
deprivation were constitutionally adequate to prevent wrongful deprivations. See
Ky. Dep’t of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 460 (1989). “Property interests . . .
are not created by the [federal] Constitution. Rather they are created and their
dimensions are defined by existing rules . . . such as state law[s] . . . that support
claims of entitlement” to the property. Bd. of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577
“Prison administrators have broad discretion in the management of
correctional institutions.” Bannan v. Angelone, 962 F. Supp. 71, 73 (W.D. Va.
1996). Thus, when other rights like free exercise, free speech, and substantive due
process are not infringed, as in Allah’s circumstances here, prison officials may
“constitutionally disallow the possession of personal property” items without
implicating inmates’ federal due process rights. Id. at 74.
Allah cannot point to any entitlement or protected interest he has under state
law or VDOC regulations to possess his NGE materials in prison. On the contrary,
as discussed, VDOC policies prohibit inmates’ possession of NGE materials.
Therefore, Allah has no state-created, protected interest in possession of the
confiscated materials and, consequently, had no federal right to procedural
protections prior to their confiscation. Moreover, as officials did provide him with
notice and an opportunity to challenge the search and confiscation, he has received
the key elements of procedural protection in any event. Mullane, 339 U.S. at 313.
E. Access to Courts.
As discussed, Allah fails to state a cognizable claim that he has been denied
access to the court because he fails to allege that the defendants’ actions “hindered
his efforts to pursue a legal claim” concerning “conditions of confinement.”
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351, 356.
Moreover, if a prison regulation satisfies the
reasonableness standard described in Turner, application of that regulation will
survive constitutional scrutiny even if it results in actual injury to an inmate’s
litigation efforts. Id. at 362.
For these reasons, I cannot find any viable access to courts claim arising
from Allah’s alleged inability to seek copyright protection for his lawfully
confiscated NGE manuscripts. As the Supreme Court has held, the right to access
does not guarantee inmates the wherewithal to transform themselves
into litigating engines capable of filing everything from shareholder
derivative actions to slip-and-fall claims. The tools it requires to be
provided are those that the inmates need in order to attack their
sentences, directly or collaterally, and in order to challenge the
conditions of their confinement. Impairment of any other litigating
capacity is simply one of the incidental (and perfectly constitutional)
consequences of conviction and incarceration.
Id. at 355 (emphasis omitted).
Finally, I will also summarily dismiss Allah’s § 1983 retaliation claim for failure to
state a claim. Prison officials may not retaliate against an inmate for exercising his
constitutional right to access the court. Hudspeth v. Figgins, 584 F.2d 1345, 1347
(4th Cir. 1978). However, to state a § 1983 claim here, Allah must present more
than conclusory allegations of retaliation. Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 74 (4th Cir.
Specifically, he must allege facts showing that his exercise of his
constitutional right was a substantial factor motivating the allegedly retaliatory
action. See, e.g., Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274,
Allah can make no such showing. In this case, it is clear from his own
allegations that prison officials confiscated the materials at issue because they were
NGE materials that could be lawfully withheld from Allah under the courts’
rulings in his prior lawsuit. In short, prison officials clearly confiscated Allah’s
NGE materials not because he pursued the prior lawsuit, but because that prior
lawsuit was decided against him. Such actions do not provide grounds for a
§ 1983 retaliation claim.
For the reasons stated, I will summarily dismiss Allah’s § 1983 claims in
this lawsuit with prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a
claim. I am satisfied that even “drawing all reasonable factual inferences from [the
factual allegations in the Complaint] in the plaintiff’s favor, it appears certain that
the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to
relief” regarding the search and confiscation of his NGE materials. Edwards v.
City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999). In light of my ruling, I also
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Allah’s state law claim in
detinue, see 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), and will dismiss this claim without prejudice.
A separate Final Order will be entered herewith.
DATED: May 9, 2017
/s/ James P. Jones
United States District Judge
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