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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Jeffrey Balawajder, a follower of the Hare Krishna religion, has been an inmate in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison system since 1989. In October 1999, Balawajder filed a request asking the department to allow him to practice his religion, which he asserted was substantially burdened by the Department Administrative Directive 3.72 (AD 3.72). AD 3.72 provides that except for certain noncombustible items, “the total volume of an offender’s property must be placed in [a] closable storage container” not to exceed two cubic feet in size. Balawajder stated in his affidavit supporting the request that as a follower of the Hare Krishna religion, he is required to study the Hare Krishna scriptures, which consist of “several hundreds of volumes of books.” According to Balawajder, AD 3.72 substantially burdened his practice of the Hare Krishna religion by preventing him from possessing the “hundreds of volumes of Hare Krishna scriptures” needed to practice his religion. In May 2000, Balawajder filed a grievance with the department that was denied. Balawajder appealed the denial, but his appeal was denied in June 2000. Balawajder subsequently filed this suit pursuant to the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, contending that AD 3.72 imposed a substantial burden on his free exercise of religion that was neither in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest nor the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. The department filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that as a matter of law, AD 3.72 furthers a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. Balawajder also filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that as a matter of law, the storage space limitation in AD 3.72 does not further a compelling governmental interest and is not the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. On Oct. 15, 2002, the trial court granted the Department’s motion for summary judgment and denied Balawajder’s motion for summary judgment. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The department’s motion for summary judgment asserts that the compelling interests in restricting the amount of storage space were 1. “limiting the amount of property an inmate may possess,” 2. “not awarding any inmate special privileges or preferential treatment,” and 3. “allowing prison chaplains to perform their normal duties attending to prisoner’s spiritual needs, rather than processing inmate requests for more storage space and making individual determinations about which inmates get how much space, and dealing with inmate complaints over this issue.” The department attached two affidavits as its summary judgment evidence. The first affidavit contains the minutes of the Religious Practice Committee, with its summary recommendation that “[w]e have a compelling governmental interest in denying this demand.” The second affidavit is executed by Don Kaspar, the director of the chaplaincy department. The court characterizes the department’s evidence as “meager.” The evidence does not address the specific burdens that would be imposed by reviewing requests for additional space, nor does it address AD 3.72′s exceptions that allow additional storage space for legal and educational materials. AD 3.72 does not limit the number of additional storage containers allowed for legal and educational materials so long as the prisoner demonstrates compliance with the requirements allowing for these exceptions. Balawajder contends that these exceptions are evidence that the department does not have a compelling interest to limit his storage space for religious materials in a manner different from legal or educational materials. Additional storage space for educational materials is allowed while an inmate is taking educational courses, but the department imposes no limit on the length of time that an inmate is allowed to take courses. Furthermore, an inmate is allowed additional storage space for legal materials as long as a continued need for such materials is present. Balawajder also challenges the department’s claim that it has a compelling interest in not awarding any inmate special privileges or non-uniform treatment. Balawajder’s opposition to the department’s motion for summary judgment sets forth examples of non-uniform treatment of certain inmates by the department. Balawajder challenges the Department’s claim that the exception proposed by him would cause an administrative burden on prison chaplains. Pursuant to AD 3.72, the law library supervisor must review and document the continued need for additional storage space for legal materials at least every 90 days. Balawajder contends that the administrative burden on the chaplain would be no different than the administration of legal materials and thus that the Department does not have a compelling interest in relieving the administrative burden on chaplains. The court concludes that in response to the department’s motion for summary judgment, Balawajder presented sufficient evidence to raise a fact question as to whether AD 3.72 furthers the department’s compelling interests. Although Balawajder rebutted the presumption that favors A.D. 3.72, the court concludes that he did not conclusively establish that A.D. 3.72 violates TRFRA because the following fact questions remain: 1. whether the department has a compelling interest in not allowing additional storage space for religious materials to the extent that it allows additional storage space for legal and educational materials, and 2. whether the department has a compelling interest in preventing the administrative burden of determining the eligibility of inmates for additional space for religious materials. OPINION:Alcala, J.; Keyes, Alcala and Bland, J.J.

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