Williford v. People of California

Citation352 F.2d 474
Decision Date03 December 1965
Docket NumberNo. 19160-19163.,19160-19163.
PartiesRobert Louis WILLIFORD, Appellant, v. PEOPLE of the State OF CALIFORNIA, Robert A. Heinze, Warden, Folsom State Prison, et al., Appellees. Amos X. BRISTER, Appellant, v. PEOPLE of the State OF CALIFORNIA, Robert A. Heinze, Warden, Folsom State Prison, et al., Appellees. Ivory X. GUIDRY, Appellant, v. PEOPLE of the State OF CALIFORNIA, Robert A. Heinze, Warden, Folsom State Prison, et al., Appellees. George X. MORRIS, Appellant, v. PEOPLE of the State OF CALIFORNIA, Robert A. Heinze, Warden, Folsom State Prison, et al., Appellees.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)

Robert Townsend, San Jose, Cal., for appellants.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen. of Cal., Doris H. Maier, Asst. Atty. Gen., Edsel W. Haws, Deputy Atty. Gen., Sacramento, Cal., for appellees.

Before POPE, HAMLEY and KOELSCH, Circuit Judges.

HAMLEY, Circuit Judge.

The plaintiffs in these four actions are California state prisoners, inmates of Folsom State Prison. Each seeks damages from Warden Robert A. Heinze, the State of California, and "John Does," for asserted violations of the Civil Rights Act, Rev.Stat. § 1977 et seq. (1875), 42 U.S.C. § 1981 et seq. (1964). Federal jurisdiction is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 1343 (1964). The basis of liability in each case is the alleged systematic harassment of plaintiffs in the exercise of what is termed the "Islamic" religion, embraced by them as Black Muslims.

In each case defendant Heinze moved under Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss the action, asserting several grounds for such relief. At the same time, and in the alternative, Heinze moved pursuant to Rule 56, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for a summary judgment dismissing the action. In support of the latter motion, Heinze submitted a number of affidavits and exhibits. The respective plaintiffs filed countering affidavits and exhibits.

In the case in which Robert Louis Williford is plaintiff the district court entered a memorandum opinion and order disposing of both motions. Williford v. California, N.D.Cal., 217 F.Supp. 245. The motion for summary judgment was denied on the ground that since there are certain genuine issues of material fact, Rule 56(c), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, precludes the granting of such a motion. The motion to dismiss the action under Rule 12(b) was granted on the ground that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

On the same day, the district court entered orders in the other three cases dismissing them under Rule 12(b) for the reasons set forth in the Williford opinion. These orders do not expressly dispose of the alternative motions for summary judgment; but in view of the adoption of the Williford opinion in each case, we assume that, as in Williford, and for the same reason, the district court denied the alternative motions.

Appellants argue that the actions should not have been dismissed under Rule 12(b) because in acting on that motion the district court did not accept as true the factual allegations of the complaint, but relied upon certain additional or conflicting information in the affidavits and exhibits filed in support of the motion for summary judgment.

Williford's amended complaint, which is typical of the complaints in all four cases, sets forth the following factual allegations: defendants formed a conspiracy under color of state law, to oppose and obstruct the lawful execution and administration of plaintiff's right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. As a result of this restraint and conspiracy, plaintiff is confined to a segregated unit of the prison, with the loss of credits and good time and is the victim of insults, racial prejudice and other punishments. No other inmates are given solitary confinement for praying to God, or subject to punishment for the practice of their religious beliefs.

Appellants are correct in asserting that, in passing upon the Rule 12(b) motion, the court did not limit itself to the factual allegations of the complaints. The court gave credence to those parts of the defendants' affidavits and exhibits, filed in support of the motion for summary judgment, tending to show, contrary or in addition to any allegation of the complaints that: (1) the nature of the Muslim beliefs is such that Black Muslims are prevented from coöperating with prison officials and other inmates; (2) to allow all Black Muslims to engage in the practice of their services would be detrimental to the administration of the prison and would present a serious threat to the maintenance of order; (3) the disallowance of all Muslim action in the prisons is substantially more feasible than would be a piecemeal investigation of each individual circumstance of which complaint might be made.

In passing on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the facts set forth in the complaint must be assumed to be true and complete, and affidavits and other evidence may not be considered. See Land v. Dollar, 330 U.S. 731, 735, 67 S.Ct. 1009, 91 L.Ed. 1209, n. 4. It follows that the dismissal of the action under Rule 12(b) (6) cannot be sustained on the ground relied upon by the district court.

If, however, the amended complaint, considered apart from all other materials, fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted, then we should sustain the dismissal under Rule 12(b) (6), notwithstanding the fact that the district court...

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