United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Abdul Wali Saleem, is a prisoner confined at South Woods
State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He is proceeding
pro se with a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. At this time, the Court must screen the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)
and 1915A to determine whether it should be dismissed as
frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from suit. For the
reasons stated in this Opinion, the Court will permit the
complaint to proceed in part.
Court will construe the allegations of the complaint as true
for the purpose of this Opinion. Plaintiff names the
following individuals as Defendants: (1) Administrator Willie
Bonds; (2) unknown officers(s) of the South Wood State Prison
mail room staff; and (3) an Islamic chaplain, Dr. Yusef.
to the brief allegations in the complaint, at some point
prior to August 26, 2016, Unknown Officer opened Plaintiffs
incoming mail, which contained “pictures depicting
homosexuals.” (ECF No. 1, at 6). Unknown Officer then
showed the pictures to, among other people, Defendant Yusef,
an Islamic chaplain at the prison. On August 26, 2016,
officers turned Plaintiff away from prayer services at the
direction of Defendant Yusef.
Plaintiff wrote to the commissioner's office, the special
investigation division, and the prison administrator,
Defendant Bonds. Plaintiff does not elaborate on the contents
of those writings, the results thereof, or whether anyone is
still denying Plaintiff access to religious services.
now raises Fourth Amendment search and First Amendment free
exercise claims against the Defendants, alleging that the
opening of his mail violated the Fourth Amendment and that
the refusal to allow him to join prayer service violated the
First Amendment. The complaint only requests compensation for
the past, not present, violation of his right to practice his
religion. (ECF No. 1, at 5-7). As for injunctive relief,
Plaintiff seeks the termination of Unknown Officer's
employment and separate prayer services for Shiite Muslims.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
courts must review complaints in civil actions in which a
plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). District courts may sua
sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, is
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. See Id. According to the
Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, “a
pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions' or
‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.'” 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007).
survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim,  the complaint must allege
“sufficient factual matter” to show that the
claim is facially plausible. See Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the [alleged]
misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Moreover,
while courts liberally construe pro se pleadings,
“pro se litigants still must allege sufficient
facts in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala
v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir.
2013) (citation omitted).
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
violations of his civil rights guaranteed under the United
States Constitution. To succeed on a § 1983 claim, a
plaintiff must allege two things: first, a violation of a
right under the Constitution, and second, that a
“person” acting under color of state law
committed the violation. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988); Piecknick v. Com. of Pa., 36 F.3d
1250, 1255-56 (3d. Cir. 1994).
Claims Against Unknown Officer
argues that Unknown Officer violated Plaintiffs Fourth
Amendment rights when he opened Plaintiffs mail. (ECF No. 1,
at 4). The Supreme Court has held, however, that “the
Fourth Amendment proscription against unreasonable searches
does not apply within the confines of the prison cell,
” Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526 (1984).
Numerous courts, including from this District, have held that
Hudson also applies to searches of a prisoner's
incoming mail. See, e.g., Ali-X v. All the Employees of
the Mail Room Staffs, No. 12-3147, 2016 WL 5660459, at
*4 (D.N.J. Sept. 28, 2016) (collecting cases); Cooper v.
Atl. Cty. Justice Facility, No. 15-575, 2015 ...