Pouncil v. Tilton

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 11-21-2012
  • Case #: 10-16881
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Bennett for the Court; Circuit Judges Callahan and Bea
  • Full Text Opinion

A plaintiff’s 2008 claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the First Amendment, founded upon the denial of his requests for a conjugal visit with his wife, were based on an independent act, and therefore were not time-barred and “pursuant to the same regulation” of his previously denied request for a conjugal visit in 2002.

Madero L. Pouncil is serving a sentence of life imprisonment without parole (LWOP). In 2002, Pouncil requested a conjugal visit with his wife. His request was denied, because the State of California bars conjugal visits for LWOP prisoners. Pouncil filed a grievance, which was also denied. He divorced his wife and remarried in 2007. In 2008, his request for a conjugal visit with his second wife was denied. Pouncil filed a Complaint alleging that the denial of his requests for conjugal visits “violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the First Amendment,” because it prevented him from practicing Islam. As a Muslim, Pouncil claimed that he was required “to marry, consummate his marriage, and father children.” James Tilton, Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Complaint was time-barred because Pouncil’s claim accrued when he filed his grievance in 2002 and that the statute of limitations had run. Pouncil argued that his claims did not accrue until he remarried in 2007 and that his Complaint was related to the 2008 denial of conjugal visits. The magistrate judge granted the motion to dismiss. Pouncil appealed. Following the district court’s ruling that Pouncil’s claims were timely, Tilton appealed. The Ninth Circuit viewed Pouncil’s claims to be challenges to the 2008 denial. The Court reasoned that the 2008 denial was an independent violation of Pouncil’s rights, because his 2008 claims did not rely on his 2002 denial. The Court concluded that Pouncil’s 2008 claims resulted from individual decisions in the implementation of the conjugal visitation policy of LWOP prisoners. Thus, Pouncil’s 2008 claims were based on an independent act, and therefore were not time-barred and “pursuant to the same regulation” of his 2002 request. AFFIRMED.

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