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Knott v. McLaughlin

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

April 11, 2017

SHAWN JEROME KNOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
Warden GREGORY MCLAUGHLIN, Defendant.

         Proceedings Under 42 U.S.C. §1983 Before the U.S. Magistrate Judge

          ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION

          Charles H. Weigle United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is a motion to extend the discovery period filed on behalf of Defendant Gregory McLaughlin. (Doc. 26). In the motion, counsel for the Defendant informs the Court that an impending trial in a different case, along with upcoming deadlines in other cases, render problematic the scheduling of Plaintiff's deposition within the existing discovery period. The Defendant accordingly asks that discovery be extended for 45 days, or until June 6, 2018. For good cause shown, the Defendant's motion is hereby GRANTED. The discovery period will now expire on June 6, 2018. Dispositive motions are due by July 6, 2018.

         Also before the Court is a motion for preliminary injunction filed by pro se Plaintiff Shawn Jerome Knott, a prisoner currently housed at Macon State Prison. (Doc. 25). For the reasons discussed below, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's motion be DENIED.

         In this Section 1983 action, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Gregory McLaughlin, the Warden of Macon State Prison, proscribed congregational prayer services at Macon State Prison, thereby burdening Plaintiff's religious-exercise rights under both the First Amendment and RLUIPA. Plaintiff alleges that he is a Sunni Muslim, and that he has a religious obligation to participate in congregational prayer services lasting five to eight minutes, five times each day. Plaintiff further alleges that congregational prayer services previously were freely allowed at Macon State Prison. As relief, Plaintiff seeks a Court Order authorizing the resumption of congregational prayer services at Macon State Prison. See (Doc. 21, pp. 1-3). Plaintiff now seeks that same relief by means of his motion for preliminary injunction.

         Eleventh Circuit authority makes clear that preliminary injunctions are the “exception rather than the rule, ” and that preliminary injunctions are “extraordinary and drastic remed[ies] not to be granted unless the movant clearly establishes the burden of persuasion” as to the following four prerequisite factors: “(1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) that the order is necessary to prevent irreparable injury; (3) that the threatened injury outweighs the harm that the order would cause to the non-movant; and (4) that the order would not be adverse to the public interest.” Powers v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., 691 Fed.Appx. 581, 583 (11th Cir. 2017). “The chief function of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo until the merits of the controversy can be fully and fairly adjudicated.” Id.

         Plaintiff has failed to carry his burden with regard to all four of the prerequisite factors. With regard to the first factor, likelihood of success, this Court's prior determination that Plaintiff states a claim for relief is not sufficient to establish a likelihood of success on the merits. Cf. (Doc. 25, p. 4). With regard to the second factor, nothing in the record suggests that Plaintiff will suffer from irreparable harm by foregoing congregational prayer services during ordinary course of litigation. With regard to the third factor, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that the harm he may suffer during the pendency of litigation outweighs the harm the Defendant would suffer by altering Macon State Prison's administrative policies, particularly in light of the deference due to the Defendant. See, e.g., Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 85 (1987) (noting that prison administration is “peculiarly within the province of the legislative and executive branches, ” and that “[w]here a state penal system is involved, federal courts have … additional reason to accord deference to the appropriate prison authorities.”). Finally, and as the Defendant notes, this same rationale-deference to prison administrators-also suggests that the public interest would be disserved by granting Plaintiff a preliminary injunction in the present circumstances. See, e.g., Boglin v. Thomas, 2000 WL 1136132 at *4 (S.D. Ala. May 17, 2000).

         Accordingly, because Plaintiff has not carried his burden as to the four prerequisite factors, and because the record indicates that a preliminary injunction is not needed to preserve the status quo during the course of litigation, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction be DENIED. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the parties may serve and file written objections to this Recommendation, or seek an extension of time to file objections, WITHIN FOURTEEN (14) DAYS after being served with a copy thereof. The District Judge will make a de novo determination of those portions of the Recommendation to which objection is made. All other portions of the Recommendation may be reviewed for clear error. The parties are further notified that, pursuant to Eleventh Circuit Rule 3-1, “[a] party failing to object to a magistrate judge's findings or recommendations contained in a report and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) waives the right to challenge on appeal the district court's order based on unobjected-to factual and legal conclusions if the party was informed of the time period for objecting and the consequences on appeal for failing to object. In the absence of a proper objection, however, the court may review on appeal for plain error if necessary in the interests of justice.”

         SO ORDERED ...


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