APPEAL FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO.
35CV-15-184], HONORABLE JODI RAINES DENNIS, JUDGE
A. WOMACK, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
Muntaqim, an inmate of the Arkansas Department of Correction
(ADC), appeals the denial of his motion for preliminary
injunction. The circuit court denied the motion on the basis
that Muntaqim failed to demonstrate both irreparable harm and
a likelihood of success on the merits. We affirm.
Procedural and Factual Background
is a professed member of the Nation of Islam (NOI), an
alternative branch of the Islamic faith. He filed the
underlying suit against numerous ADC officials under,
inter alia, the Free Exercise Clause of First
Amendment to the United States Constitution and the federal
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(RLUIPA). Muntaqim contends that prison officials have
unlawfully withheld a number of issues of The Final
Call, a weekly periodical published by the NOI, and have
unconstitutionally prohibited him from leading NOI services.
He moved for a preliminary injunction against ADC's
publications policy as applied to NOI material and against
ADC's religious services policy so that he may lead NOI
services in prison.
the second interlocutory appeal related to Muntaqim's
motion for preliminary injunction. See Muntaqim v.
Hobbs, 2017 Ark. 97, 514 S.W.3d 464. In the first
appeal, we reversed and remanded with instructions for the
circuit court to conduct a hearing on the motion.
Id. During the hearing on remand, Muntaqim testified
that he has consistently received The Final Call and
other NOI material since 2015. He alleged that he had
periodically been denied issues of The Final Call
between 2013 and 2015 while incarcerated at a different unit.
The court also heard testimony about the weekly Islamic
prayer services offered to prisoners and Muntaqim's
refusal to attend because of the presence of orthodox
Muslims. ADC officials testified about the publication and
religious service policies and their general application
within the prison.
court issued a written order denying Muntaqim's motion
for preliminary injunction. It held that Muntaqim failed to
show any irreparable harm if the ADC policy prohibiting
publications that promote violence remained in effect. The
court also determined that Muntaqim failed to demonstrate a
likelihood of success on the merits. It held that Muntaqim
seeks to overturn judicial precedent recognizing the
legitimate penological interests in the safety and welfare of
prisoners, prison staff, and visitors. But he failed to offer
any authority supporting his claims. While the court
recognized that Muntaqim's claims were brought under the
First Amendment and RLUIPA, its analysis was limited to the
First Amendment. Muntaqim did not request any findings
related to the RLUIPA claims. This appeal followed.
Standard of Review
preliminary injunction is an "extraordinary remedy . . .
reserved for extraordinary circumstances." Drummond
Citizens Ins. Co. v. Sergeant, 266 Ark. 611, 621, 588
S.W.2d 419, 424 (1979). When determining whether to grant a
preliminary injunction, circuit courts must consider two
factors: (1) whether irreparable harm will result in the
absence of an injunction; and (2) whether the moving party
has demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits.
See Muntaqim, 2017 Ark. 97, at 3, 514 S.W.3d at 467.
A party seeking a preliminary injunction bears the burden of
demonstrating both factors. See Smith v. Am. Trucking
Ass'n, Inc., 300 Ark. 594, 596, 781 S.W.2d 3, 4
only reverse a decision to deny a preliminary injunction for
abuse of discretion, which occurs when the decision is made
"thoughtlessly and without due consideration."
Muntaqim, 2017 Ark. 97, at 3, 514 S.W.3d at 467. Any
factual findings that lead to the circuit court's
conclusions of irreparable harm and likelihood of success on
the merits will not be set aside unless clearly erroneous.
Baptist Health v. Murphy, 365 Ark. 115, 121, 226
S.W.3d 800, 806 (2006). The decision to issue a preliminary
injunction rests within the sound discretion of the circuit
court, and not in the discretion of this court. Id.
Accordingly, we will not delve into the merits of the case
further than necessary to determine whether the circuit court
exceeded its discretion. Id. The sole question
before this court is whether the circuit court departed from
the rules and principles of equity in making the order, and
not whether we would have made the order. Id.
circuit court held that Muntaqim failed to demonstrate a
likelihood of success on the merits because the challenged
ADC policies are consistent with judicial precedent
recognizing the legitimate penological interests of prison
safety and security. As previously stated, the circuit
court's decision was premised on an analysis of
Muntaqim's claims brought under the Free Exercise Clause
of the First Amendment. The First Amendment is made
applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.
See Myers v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2011
Ark. 182, at 10, 380 S.W.3d 906, 912.
United States Supreme Court has recognized that prisoners
retain protections afforded by the First Amendment.
O'Lone v. Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 348 (1987).
These rights are limited, however, by the fact of
incarceration and valid penological objectives, such as
deterrence of crime, rehabilitation of prisoners, and
institutional security. Id. Accordingly, a policy
that impinges on a prisoner's constitutional rights is
valid if it is "reasonably related to legitimate
penological interests." Id. at 349. Prison
security has been recognized as "the most compelling
government interest in a prison setting." Murphy v.
Mo. Dep't of Corr., 372 F.3d 979, 983 (8th Cir.
first address the mail policy. It is well settled that a
prison may prohibit incoming publications deemed to be
"detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline
of the institution or if it might facility criminal
activity." Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401,
416 (1989). A policy that allows for censorship of incoming
publications deemed likely to incite prison violence is
related to the legitimate ...