WYATT V. TERHUNE - January 15, 2003 - Before the Circuit Judges - FIRST AMENDMENT /
RELIGION / EQUAL PROTECTION - Vacated and Remanded
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From: H Jones 
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 12:26 AM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Caselaw - Prisoners

Wyatt v. Terhune 
No. 00-16568 (01/02/03)
Before Circuit Judges Bright, B. Fletcher, and Fisher


Opinion (Fisher): Wyatt, a Californian prison inmate, and practicing Rastafarian, filed a 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 action against Terhune, a prison warden, challenging the California Department of Corrections' hair length regulation as a violation of his constitutional and statutory right to free exercise of religion and equal protection of law. A magistrate judge granted summary judgment to Terhune. In addition, the magistrate dismissed Wyatt's religious discrimination claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as the Act had been declared unconstitutional. The district court fully adopted the findings and recommendations of the magistrate judge. The district court also granted Terhune's motion to dismiss Wyatt's equal protection claim under Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for failing to exhaust the administrative remedies of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The Ninth Circuit held that the judicial notice process used by the magistrate was unfair and did not meet the requirements of the fair notice doctrine. Under the fair notice doctrine, the district court bears the responsibility of assuring that a pro se prisoner litigant receives meaningful notice of summary judgment procedures. In addition, the Ninth Circuit held that since the RFRA had been declared unconstitutional during Wyatt's appeal and Congress had enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to replace the void provisions of RFRA, on remand the district court should grant Wyatt leave to amend his complaint to include a claim under the RLUIPA. As an issue of first impression in the Circuit, the Ninth Circuit held that the PLRA exhaustion requirement is a defense, and not a pleading requirement, and must be raised by the defendant. The Ninth Circuit concluded that Terhune failed to meet this burden and therefore the district court erred in its dismissal of Wyatt's equal protection claim. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

Parrish v. Small
No. 01-56239 (01/07/03)
Before Circuit Judges Bright, Goodwin, and Tashima


Opinion (Bright): Parrish appealed the district court's denial of his habeas corpus petition. He claimed that his Constitutional rights were violated when he was improperly shackled throughout his trial. The Ninth Circuit (Court) found that there was not enough evidence in the record to support the district court's decision. The Court stated that the record would benefit from additional information about what was visible in the courtroom, what jurors could actually see, and what the trial participants recall. The Court also stated that Parrish should have been permitted to develop the record on the issue of the shackling's prejudice to his defense. Thus, the Court vacated the judgment in district court and remanded for an evidentiary hearing to determine what the jurors saw and whether such viewing was so inherently prejudicial that it threatened the fairness of the trial. VACATED AND REMANDED.