Yellowbear, Jr. v. Lampert, No. 12-8048 (10th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff-Appellant Andrew Yellowbear, Jr. was convicted for the murder of his daughter. He brought suit against the Wyoming Department of Corrections for the alleged violation of his Constitutional and statutory rights, specifically, that the Department denied him access to the prison's sweatlodge that he might practice his religion. Prison officials insisted that the cost of providing the necessary security to take plaintiff from the special protective unit in which he was housed to the sweat lodge and back was "unduly burdensome." The district court discerned no violation and entered summary judgment against plaintiff. The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded: "Mr. Yellowbear has sought some access to a sweat lodge. The prison has refused any access. [. . .] As litigated to [the Court], the burden on Mr. Yellowbear's religious exercise is high (no access of any kind, ever, to a religious exercise) and the cost to the prison left undefined by the record and thus presumably low. In these circumstances, we don't doubt a reasonable trier of fact could find a RLUIPA violation."