United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON EMERGENCY MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
JaQure Al-Bukhari, currently incarcerated at Northern
Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this
case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his
amended complaint Al-Bukhari claims that the defendants
violated of his First Amendment right to freely exercise his
religion and his rights under the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc, by denying him various religious
accommodations. Al-Bukhari has now filed this motion for a
temporary restraining order, asking the Court to order the
defendants to remove his leg shackles while he showers, allow
the water in his cell to run for five minutes at a time to
accommodate ritual washing, and to permit him to buy Halal
items from the commissary. For the reasons that follow, the motion
is confined at Northern Correctional Institution
(“Northern”). As a practicing Muslim, Al-Bukhari
is required to perform Wudu, or ritual cleaning. The water in
the sinks at Northern automatically shuts off after one
minute and cannot be restarted for four minutes. This is not
sufficient time for Al-Bukhari to complete the Wudu.
Al-Bukhari also is required to perform Al-Ghusl, a religious
bath. Inmates at Northern are required to shower wearing
shackles. Al-Bukhari contends that he cannot perform Al-Ghusl
alleges that the defendants will not provide him Halal food
and will not permit him to purchase Halal food from the
commissary or allow his family to purchase it for him from an
approved vendor. As a result of disciplinary sanctions for
his many disciplinary infractions, Al-Bukhari has lost
commissary privileges until November 2020.
courts may grant interim injunctive relief in the form of a
preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order
“where a plaintiff demonstrates irreparable harm and
meets one of two related standards: either (a) a likelihood
of success on the merits, or (b) sufficiently serious
questions going to the merits of its claims to make them fair
ground for litigation, plus a balance of the hardships
tipping decidedly in favor of the moving party.”
Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians v. New York State
Dep't of Fin. Servs., 769 F.3d 105, 110 (2d Cir.
2014) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). When
the moving party seeks mandatory relief that “alters
the status quo by commanding some positive act, ” as
opposed to prohibitory relief that simply maintains the
status quo, however, the burden is higher. Cacchillo v.
Insmed, Inc., 638 F.3d 401, 406 (2d Cir. 2011) (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted). The court should not
grant mandatory injunctive relief absent “a clear
showing that the moving party is entitled to the relief
requested, or where extreme or very serious damage will
result from the denial of preliminary relief.”
Id. (citation omitted). Here, Al-Bukhari seeks
mandatory relief requiring the defendants to make changes to
the prison administration and to override valid disciplinary
sanctions. Thus, he must meet the higher standard.
officials must be afforded broad discretionary authority
because the “operation of a correctional institution is
at best an extraordinarily difficult undertaking.”
Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 566 (1974). Prison
officials must balance their responsibilities for maintaining
internal order and discipline, securing the correctional
facilities, and rehabilitating the inmates. The problems
faced by prison officials are “complex and intractable,
” and “not readily susceptible of resolution by
decree.” Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396,
405 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Thornburgh v.
Abbott, 490 U.S. 401 (1989); see also Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 482 (1995) (reiterating that
federal courts should “afford appropriate deference and
flexibility” to state prison officials). The Prison
Litigation Reform Act also imposes restrictions on
preliminary injunctive relief. Any relief must be
“narrowly drawn” and “extend no further
than necessary to correct the harm;” it must be
“the least intrusive means necessary to correct the
harm.” 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2).
contends that the defendants have denied him permission to
purchase Halal food from the commissary or an outside vendor.
He argues that, as a practicing Muslim, he must eat Halal
food. In opposition to this motion, the defendants have
submitted the declarations of three Imams, all of whom state
that the Common Fare menu offered by the Department of
Correction is Halal. See Docs. ## 16-3, ¶¶
4-5; 16-6, ¶¶ 4-5; & 16-15, ¶¶ 6-20.
Thus, Al-Bukhari can meet his religious dietary requirements
by registering for the Common Fare menu. He has not done so.
See Docs. ## 16-3, ¶ 5; 16-6, ¶ 5. See
also, Vega v. Lantz, 2009 WL 3157586, at *8 (D. Conn.
Sept. 25, 2009) (Common Fare menu includes no items forbidden
by Muslim religion). Because Al-Bukhari has an available
vehicle to meet his religious dietary requirements, he cannot
demonstrate irreparable harm if his motion is denied.
states that the water in his cell is on a timer. Water runs
for one minute and then will not run again for four minutes.
He argues that he cannot perform Wudu, a ritual washing in
one minute. The Imams concur. See Docs. ## 16-3,
¶ 6 & 16-6, ¶ 6 (“Both Imam Salem and
[Imam Usman] agree that 60 seconds may be too short for a
complete Wudu”). However, the Imams suggested a way to
complete wudu with the current water availability. They
recommended that Al-Bukhari fill two cups with water before
starting the Wudu. The minute of running water plus the two
cups of water would be sufficient to complete the ritual.
See Docs. ##16-3, ¶ 7; 16-6, ¶ 7. In
addition, Captain Jackson submitted a declaration suggesting
that, as an alternative to filling cups with water,
Al-Bukhari could cover the drain in the sink as other inmates
do when taking a sponge bath or washing clothing. In this
way, Al-Bukhari could accumulate a sufficient amount of water
to complete the Wudu. See Doc. #16-7, ...