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Brooks v. Roy

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

January 14, 2014

Wesley Eugene Brooks, Plaintiff,
Tom Roy, David Crist, Terry Carlson, Nenette Larson, Bruce Reiser, Douglas Panser, James Schaffer, and John/Jane Does 1-10, Defendants.

F. Clayton Tyler and Karen E. Mohrlant, F. Clayton Tyler PA, 331 2nd Avenue South, Suite 230, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401; and Karin Ciano, Karin Ciano Law PLLC, 310 4th Avenue South, Suite 5010, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415, for Plaintiff.

Angela Behrens, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 900, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101, for Defendants.




This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Objections [Doc. No. 44] to United States Magistrate Judge Janie S. Mayeron's December 7, 2012, Report and Recommendation ("R&R") [Doc. No. 43]. The Magistrate Judge recommended that (1) Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 9] be granted; (2) Counts 1, 2, and 3 of the Complaint [Doc. No. 1] be dismissed with prejudice; and (3) the remaining state law claims be dismissed with prejudice. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Objections are overruled and the Court adopts the R&R in its entirety.


As the Magistrate Judge's R&R documents the factual and procedural background of this case, the Court incorporates it by reference. Plaintiff Wesley Eugene Brooks, a member of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community, is currently serving a six-year sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault ("MCF-FRB") for first-degree Driving While Impaired. Plaintiff was ordered to complete chemical dependency treatment via the New Dimensions program at MCF-FRB, which he began on November 14, 2011.

The New Dimensions program uses cognitive behavior therapy to help reframe cognitive distortions. (Aff. of Jennifer Nemecska ¶ 4 [Doc. No. 23].) During a typical week, program participants have daily group therapy for two hours (except on Tuesdays), and they individually meet with therapists as needed to assess treatment planning. (Id.) Participants also attend lectures on various topics, such as drug education, criminal and addictive thinking, release and reintegration, socialization, and values. (Id.) On a monthly basis, program therapists assess each client's progress. ( Id. ¶ 5.) During this review, each therapist presents a client's case and discusses the following: a client's attitude toward treatment; a client's openness to addressing treatment barriers and problems; a client's willingness to identify the existence of a drug and crime issue; and how willing a client is to change and become a productive member of society. ( Id. ¶ 5.)

Jennifer Nemecska, Plaintiff's primary therapist in the New Dimensions Program, states that Plaintiff resisted treatment from the outset: regularly arguing with staff, denying his need for treatment, and inadequately completing treatment assignments. ( Id. ¶ 7.) During his first few weeks in treatment, Plaintiff used his assignments to address unrelated issues and to complain about the lack of a treatment program specific to Native Americans. (Id.)

Plaintiff perceives the New Dimensions program to involve religious aspects, but this belief is unfounded. (Nemecska Aff. ¶ 13 [Doc. No. 23].) As part of treatment, offenders are encouraged to participate in "pro-social" activities. (Id.) These activities are meetings that occur in an offender's living unit or other buildings on the MCF-FRB campus. (Id.) Offenders are encouraged to attend two pro-social activities each week. (Id.) They can choose from religious programming at the facility, various "anonymous" programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, and other meetings like Alternative to Violence and Restorative Justice. (Id.) Plaintiff's participation in Native American activities offered to MCF-FRB's general population counts as a pro-social activity. (Id.) Other Native-American offenders have completed the New Dimensions program successfully. (Id.)

Plaintiff has submitted several Offender Kite Forms to prison staff about his treatment program and how it allegedly conflicts with his Native American beliefs. (Offender Kite Forms [Doc. No. 29-1].) These forms include:

• November 23, 2011 - Plaintiff sent a kite to Ms. Nemecska, asking why his participation in Native American ceremonies did not count as "prosocial [sic] activities" while in treatment. Ms. Nemecska responded that it was at the therapist's discretion, and that religious activities could count as one of the two pro-social requirements of treatment. ( Id. at 1.)
• December 5, 2011 - Plaintiff sent two kites to Ms. Nemecska, asking why he had been placed at the "decision table" about a "thinking report" he drafted, and whether the primary purpose of the treatment program was behavior modification. Ms. Nemecska responded that the treatment program was not challenging his core beliefs, and the purpose of the treatment program was to change his behavior. ( Id. at 2-3.)
• January 3, 2012 - Plaintiff sent a kite to Mr. Houff, the previous director of the New Dimensions chemical dependency treatment program, asking about the process for transferring to a Native American treatment program. Mr. Houff responded that he did not know of any Native American program at Minnesota Department of Corrections ("MDOC"), and staff had told him that they could incorporate Native American specific curriculum into his treatment. Mr. Houff also stated that if Plaintiff was not satisfied by this response, Plaintiff's next step was to contact Douglas Panser, Associate Director of Behavioral Health for MDOC. ( Id. ...

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