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De La Torre v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 6, 2018

Andres De La Torre, Plaintiff,
Charles L Ryan, et al., Defendants.



         Pending before the Court are Plaintiff Andres De La Torre's Motion to Compel Discovery (doc. 16), and two Motions for Amendment of Scheduling Order (docs. 14, 19). Each motion is fully briefed. (Docs.16, 18, 20; Docs. 14, 15; Docs. 19, 21.)

         Plaintiff's seeks an order compelling Defendants to answer discovery requests. There is a factual dispute as to whether Defendants received the discovery requests. The Court will order Defendants to answer the requests. Plaintiff's Motions for Amendment seek the extension of deadlines and the increase of limits to discovery. The Court finds that Plaintiff has been diligent, and has shown good cause to extend the deadlines, but not the limits, of discovery. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motions for Amendment will be granted in part.

         I. Background.

         On April 26, 2017, Plaintiff filed a pro se Civil Rights Complaint. (Doc. 1.) In its July 10, 2017, Screening Order (doc. 6), the Court provided the following relevant summary of Plaintiff's claims:

In his four-count Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his rights under the First Amendment; the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc-2000cc-5; the Equal Protection Clause; and the Due Process Clause have been violated. . . Plaintiff is seeking injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief.
In Count One, [1] Plaintiff alleges that his rights under the First Amendment were violated by Defendants' refusal to provide him with a Halal diet, a Kosher diet, or “any diet remotely consistent with Islam's dietary restrictions.” (Doc. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff asserts that when he requested a religious diet, Defendant Harris required him to take a religious test. (Id. at 3-4.) In the course of administering this test, Harris allegedly “challenged the legitimacy of Islam, ” “cast aspersions on [Plaintiff's] religious sincerity, ” and interrogated Plaintiff about aspects of his religion irrelevant to dietary restrictions. (Id. at 4.) At the conclusion of the test, Harris purportedly told Plaintiff that he would not approve Plaintiff's diet request, but would provide Plaintiff's test results to Defendant Kingsland for further consideration. (Id.) Kingsland subsequently denied Plaintiff's diet request, claiming that Plaintiff had not established a religious reason for his request. (Id.) Plaintiff provided “documentation of the chaplains' clear violation of his [First] Amendment rights” and a copy of the Ninth Circuit's decision in Shakur v. Schriro [514 F.3d 878 (9th Cir. 2008)] to Defendants Mooney and Ryan, but instead of remedying the situation, Mooney and Ryan approved the chaplains' actions. (Id.)
In Count Two, Plaintiff relies on the facts alleged in Count One to assert a claim under RLUIPA. (Id. at 5.)
In Count Three, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' refusal to grant him a religious diet violated his equal protection rights. (Id. at 6.) He states that Defendants “singled [him] out for disparate treatment” because he is “Mexican and newly converted, rather than Black or Arab and raised Muslim.” (Id.) According to Plaintiff, there was no legitimate reason for the denial of his religious diet request because he is in the same situation and satisfied the same requirements as other Muslim inmates whose religious diet requests were approved. (Id.) Specifically, he claims to have submitted a written request, provided a written statement setting forth the reason for his request, specified the scripture verses that set forth the Quran's dietary requirements, and answered every question posed by Defendant Harris during the religious test. (Id.)
In Count Four, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Ryan created a policy intended to “subvert and circumvent” First Amendment religious protections and that Defendants Mooney, Kingsland, and Harris made a “calculated choice” to follow an unconstitutional course of action. (Id. at 7, 8.) He asserts that the ADC Department Order (DO) governing religious diets, DO 904.04-1.5, is incomprehensible and incomplete. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, the policy does not set forth clear criteria for obtaining a religious diet, nor does it contain any mention of the “multi-page questionnaire religious tests” that are used by prison chaplains to “arbitrarily judge religious sincerity and discriminate against non-Christian religions.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims that some Muslim inmates' requests for a religious diet are denied even though they cite the same reasons for their requests as inmates who have been granted a religious diet. In addition, Plaintiff claims that the unwritten custom of “interrogating inmates about their religion” and “attacking [inmates'] beliefs” was approved by Defendant Ryan and is “so well-settled and widespread that policymaking officials [and] prison administrators have actual knowledge of it.” (Id.)
Plaintiff claims that he has suffered religious suppression, monetary loss, mental and emotional anguish, and “physical dete[ri]oration” as a result of Defendants' conduct.

(Doc. 6 at 3-5.)

         II. Pro se parties.

         The United States Supreme Court has made clear that federal “judges have no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants[, ]” because requiring trial judges to explain the details of federal procedure or act as the pro se's counsel “would undermine [federal] judges' role as impartial decisionmakers.” Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 226-227 (2004). A pro se litigant “does not have a constitutional right to receive personal instruction from the trial judge on courtroom procedure” and that “the Constitution [does not] require judges to take over chores for a pro se [litigant] that would normally be attended to by trained counsel as a matter of course.” Id. (citing Martinez v. Court of Appeal of Cal., Fourth Appellate Dist., 528 U.S. 152, 162 (2000)). Although pro se pleadings may be held to less stringent standards than those prepared by attorneys, Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir.1998) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 ...

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