U.S. District Court, WDNY
Inmates — Religious Materials
Access to the Courts — Civil Matter
Joseph v. Fischer
Background: The plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, commenced an action alleging that the defendants had violated his right to practice his religion by illegally confiscating religious materials. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendants further denied him access to the courts with respect to the estate of his late relatives.
Ruling: The District Court granted in part and denied in part the defendant’s motion. The court found that, although the religious materials confiscated were generated by the plaintiff, the allegations were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. The plaintiff’s claims seeking damages from the individual defendants were dismissed on the grounds of qualified immunity. Finally, the court held that a prisoner’s right of access is limited to cases in which inmates attack their sentences, directly or collaterally. The plaintiff’s claims in Surrogate Court were unrelated to his own conviction.
Rodney Joseph pro se; Toni El. Logue of the New York State Office of the Attorney General for the defendants