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Tawwab v. Metz

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT


decided: April 11, 1977.

IMANNUN ABDUT TAWWAB (A/K/A ERIC CAESAR), NASSIR ABDUL SABUR (A/K/A IRVING DUNAWAY), DAWUD ABDULLAH RAHMAN, TARIQ ABDUR RAHMAN (A/K/A GRAHAM JOHNSON), ABBAS ABDUL RAQIB (A/K/A ROBERT YOUNG), KASIM ABDUL JABBAR (A/K/A HERSCHEL LEE ARMOUR), SALAH ABDUR RAHMAN (A/K/A LEVON JACKSON), ABDUL BASIR AL JABBAR (A/K/A LESTER R. TEPWAY), PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
PAUL W. METZ, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SUPERINTENDENT OF GREAT MEADOW CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, AND BENJAMIN WARD, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, MARSHALL MASON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CORRECTIONAL SERGEANT, GREAT MEADOW CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES

Eight appellants, all Sunni Muslims, formerly prisoners in the Great Meadow Correctional Facility, brought an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, James T. Foley, J., alleging violations by prison officials of various constitutional rights. The complaint was dismissed, and plaintiffs appeal. Vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss the complaint as moot.

Feinberg, Gurfein and Meskill, Circuit Judges.

Author: Per Curiam

This is a civil rights action brought, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 1981, 1983, by eight New York State prisoners of the Sunni Muslim faith. They complain that various regulations of Great Meadow Correctional Facility infringed rights guaranteed them under the First, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. The complaint seeks injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as damages. The action was brought in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. In a careful and thorough opinion, Judge Foley dismissed the complaint for failure to state claims upon which relief could be granted. We vacate the judgment and remand the case to the district court, with instructions to dismiss the complaint as moot.

Appellants complain of two policies of the prison. The first concerns classes in religious instruction and Arabic given by Sunni ministers not connected with the prison. Although the prison authorities allowed such classes, the number of inmates participating was limited to fifteen. The plaintiffs claim that this violates their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.*fn1

The second claim relates to the policy of the prison governing certain prisoners' access to their lawyers.*fn2 The complaint alleges that the authorities would allow only one prisoner at a time to see his attorney.*fn3 At argument, the attorney for respondent informed the Court that the policy of Great Meadow concerning attorney visitation had been changed, and that prisoners were no longer subject to the restriction in question. This change in policy is embodied in an official prison document which was handed up to the Court during oral argument. Accordingly, it is "absolutely clear that the allegedly wrongful behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur," United States v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Ass'n, Inc., 393 U.S. 199, 203, 21 L. Ed. 2d 344, 89 S. Ct. 361 (1968), and this claim for injunctive relief is moot.

It further appears that none of the appellants are presently at Great Meadow. Therefore, the demand for an injunction against the limitation on the size of classes is moot, and we do not reach the merits of the issue. See Mawhinney v. Henderson, 542 F.2d 1, 2 (2d Cir. 1976).

The judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the district court with instructions to dismiss the complaint as moot.*fn4


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