from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable
Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge.
Representing Appellant: Steve C.M. Aron and Alexander J.
Mencer, Aron & Hennig, LLP, Laramie, Wyoming. Argument by
Representing Appellees: Bridget L. Hill, Attorney General;
Michael J. McGrady, Deputy Attorney General; Daniel E. White,
Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. White.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
JonMichael Guy, an inmate in the custody of the Wyoming
Department of Corrections (WDOC), sued the WDOC under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, seeking to require that it recognize
Humanism as a religion. He sought declaratory and injunctive
relief, and also sought monetary damages from the WDOC's
Director, Robert O. Lampert, and its Deputy Administrator,
Julie Tennant-Caine, in their individual capacities. After he
filed his complaint, the WDOC officially recognized Humanism
as a religion. As a result, the district court dismissed Mr.
Guy's complaint. In addition, the district court denied
Mr. Guy's motion for attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. §
1988 because Mr. Guy was not a "prevailing party."
We rephrase Mr. Guy's issues:
1. Does the voluntary cessation exception to the mootness
doctrine apply in Wyoming?
2. Does the district court's conclusion that Mr. Guy
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies require
3. Were Mr. Lampert and Ms. Tennant-Caine entitled to
4. Did Mr. Guy preserve his argument that the Defendants'
certificate of service, attached to their motion to dismiss,
5. Was Mr. Guy a "prevailing party" under 42 U.S.C.
Mr. Guy is a WDOC inmate housed at the Wyoming Medium
Correctional Institution (WMCI) in Torrington. On December 8,
2017, Mr. Guy and the American Humanist Association (AHA)
filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
Wyoming Department of Corrections. He also sued the Director of
the WDOC, Robert O. Lampert, and his Deputy Administrator,
Julie Tennant-Caine, in their official and individual
capacities. Mr. Guy alleged that the WDOC refused to allow
practicing Humanists to "form a Humanist study group to
meet on the same terms that Defendants authorize inmates of
theistic religious traditions, and other religions, to meet;
and . . . to allow inmates to identify as Humanists for
assignment purposes." He claimed that the WDOC's refusal
violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United
States Constitution, and Article I, Sections 2, 6, 7, 18, and
19, of the Wyoming Constitution. He sought "injunctive
and declaratory relief and [monetary] damages[.]"
Mr. Guy raised two claims that are relevant to this
appeal. In the first claim, he sought monetary
damages against Mr. Lampert and Ms. Tennant-Caine in their
individual capacities. He sought $120, 000 for violation of
his civil rights, unspecified additional damages for
"emotional distress, shame, humiliation, loss of
enjoyment of life and mental anguish," and
"exemplary and punitive damages."
In his second claim, Mr. Guy sought declaratory and
injunctive relief. He requested an injunction to preclude the
• Depriving him of his freedom of religion;
• Preventing him from associating with other Humanist
practicing inmates; and
• Favoring some religions over others.
addition, he asked the district court to order that the
Defendants recognize Humanism as a religion, permit a
Humanist study group, and prohibit discrimination against all
Humanist inmates. Finally, Mr. Guy sought a declaratory
judgment affirming his right to practice Humanism, declaring
that exclusion of Humanism violates the constitution, and
declaring that the Defendants violated Mr. Guy's
On December 29, 2017, after Mr. Guy had filed his complaint,
the WDOC executed a "Director's Executive
Order" that formally recognized Humanism as a religion
and added Humanism to the WDOC's "Handbook of
Religious Beliefs and Practices." It also recognized
three Humanist holidays. On January 23, 2018, the Defendants
filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. They argued the
executive order mooted Mr. Guy's claims seeking
recognition of Humanism. They also argued his
"allusions" to specific Humanist practices, such as
fire ceremonies, a Humanist diet, and a Humanist study group,
in addition to being improperly pleaded, were not ripe for
review because Mr. Guy did not request that the WDOC permit
these practices before filing suit. Finally, Mr. Lampert and
Ms. Tennant-Caine argued they were entitled to qualified
immunity as to Mr. Guy's claim for monetary damages.
The district court granted the Defendants' motion. The
court relied on the WDOC's executive order that added
Humanism to the list of recognized religions to find Mr.
Guy's claims were moot. It concluded the mootness
doctrine extinguished Mr. Guy's request for declaratory
and injunctive relief and his demand for monetary damages
against Mr. Lampert and Ms. Tennant-Caine. The court rejected
Mr. Guy's argument that the voluntary cessation exception
to the mootness doctrine applied because that exception had
not been adopted in Wyoming. It did not address whether
Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on Mr.
Guy's claim for monetary damages because of its
conclusion that this claim was also moot.
After the court dismissed his complaint, Mr. Guy sought to
recover his attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. §
1988(b). That statute permits the "prevailing
party" in a case under § 1983 to recover "a
reasonable attorney's fee." The district court
denied the motion because Mr. Guy was not a "prevailing
party." Mr. Guy appealed both of ...