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Wood v. Yordy

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 3, 2014

LANCE CONWAY WOOD, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
KEITH YORDY, Ex-Deputy Warden at Idaho State Correctional Institution (ISCI); STEVE NELSON, Ex-Deputy Warden at ISCI; JAY CHRISTENSEN, Deputy Warden at ISCI; ERIC MACEACHERN, Deputy Warden at Idaho Correctional Institution of Orofino (ICIO); TODD MARTIN, Deputy Warden of ICIO; BILL FINELY, Sergeant of ISCI; SANDRA MARTIN, Ex-Correctional Officer CIO of ICIO; LAWANDA THOMASON, Ex-Lieutenant at ICIO; MIKE LUDLOW, C/O at ISCI; LESLIE PETERSEN, Coordinator at ISCI, Defendants-Appellees

Argued and Submitted, University of Idaho Law School: October 1, 2013.

Page 900

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Idaho. D.C. No. 1:07-cv-00350-EJL. Edward J. Lodge, District Judge, Presiding.

Warren Postman (argued) and Shay Dvoretzky, Jones Day, Washington, D.C., for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Michael J. Elia (argued) and Brady J. Hall, Moore & Elia, LLP, Boise, Idaho, for Defendants-Appellants.

Before: Mary M. Schroeder, Sidney R. Thomas, and N. Randy Smith, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Schroeder.

OPINION

Page 901

SCHROEDER, Senior Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff Lance Wood is an Idaho state prisoner with an apparent penchant for romantic (but, as all parties stress, not sexual) relationships with prison guards. When prison authorities found that he was utilizing chapel facilities for such purposes, they curtailed his opportunities for chapel access. He filed this action against individual prison officials under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (" RLUIPA" ), claiming they had imposed an unwarranted burden on his exercise of religion. The issue of first impression in this circuit is whether he may seek damages against prison officials in their individual capacities. We agree with the unanimous conclusion of all of the other circuits that have addressed the issue that such a claim may not be maintained. This is principally because RLUIPA was enacted pursuant to Congress's constitutional powers under the Spending Clause, and the individual defendants are not recipients of any federal funds. See, e.g., Stewart v. Beach, 701 F.3d 1322, 1335 (10th Cir. 2012).

Wood also claims a violation of his First Amendment rights, alleging the defendants acted in retaliation for an earlier suit, in which he prevailed on appeal in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 due process claim arising out of one of his prison guard relationships. Wood v. Beauclair, 692 F.3d 1041 (9th Cir. 2012). There is, however, insufficient evidence to create a material issue of fact as to a retaliatory motive.

We therefore affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

BACKGROUND

Wood is currently serving a life sentence in Idaho prisons. The relationship that led to Wood v. Beauclair began in 2003 in the Idaho Correctional Institute-Orofino (" ICIO" ). He was later transferred to the Idaho State Correctional Institution (" ISCI" ) where he is currently housed.

Wood, who characterizes himself as a very religious person, began soon after his transfer to engage in many activities in the prison chapel. These included working as a janitor, attending services, and volunteering in various capacities. In the course of investigating the relationship with Correction Officer Taylor-Martin underlying the Wood v. Beauclair litigation, the Deputy Warden of ISCI, Keith Yordy, discovered that Wood may also have been involved in an improper relationship with an ISCI officer, Cheryl Davis, and that Wood was using the prison chaplain, Les Petersen, as a go-between to ...


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