State of Oregon v. City of Rajneeshpuram/1985 04 26

Case summaryEdit

STATE OF OREGON Plaintiff, v. CITY OF RAJNEESHPURAM, a putative Oregon municipal corporation; WASCO COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Oregon; ROBERT M. BROWN, Sheriff of Wasco County; RAJNEESH FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL, a New Jersey corporation; RAJNEESH INVESTMENT CORPORATION, an Oregon corporation; RAJNEESH NEO-SANNYAS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNE, an Oregon corporation; MA ANAND SHEELA, individually; SWAMI PREM JAYANANDA, MA YOGA VIDYA, SWAMI KRISHNA DEVA, MA PREM ARCHAN, SWAMI DEVA SANDESH, MA PREM PATIPADA, MA DEVA JAYAMALA, MA SAT PRABODHI, MA PREM RIKTA, individually and as representatives of the class of all current residents of the City of Rajneeshpuram, Defendants

Civil No. 84-359 FR


1985 U.S. Dist.; 1 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 1258

April 26, 1985, Decided and Filed

COUNSEL: [*1] Dave Frohnmayer, William F. Gary, Robert W. Muir, Margaret Rabin, Mary A. Wilbur for Plaintiff.

Ma Prem Sangeet, Rajneesh Legal Services Corp., Bernard L. Smith for Defendants.

Ma ANand Sheela for Defendant Pro Se.





FRYE, Judge:

On December 14, 1984, defendants moved pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a) and 21 for an order joining certain state officials in their individual capacity as plaintiffs in this action. Plaintiff, State of Oregon, responded to defendants' motion to join parties by moving the court for an order staying defendants' motion to join parties and for a summary order determining that the court has no jurisdiction to grant defendants' motion to compel joinder of state officials for the purpose which defendants assert. On March 13, 1985, the court issued an order denying plaintiff's motion for a stay of defendants' motion to join parties and determining that this court has jurisdiction to compel joinder of state officials in order to enjoin them from violating federal law. The matter now before the court is defendants' motion to join parties.



On October 1, 1983, the Attorney General of the State of Oregon issued [*2] an opinion to an Oregon state legislator stating that in his opinion the courts would resolve issues of state and federal law by concluding that the distribution of state funds to the City of Rajneeshpuram would violate article 1, section 5 of the Oregon Constitution and the first amendment to the United States Constitution. That opinion states in part:

The questions asked arise out of actions purportedly occurring within the City of Rajneeshpuram. We have determined the existence of some facts, but other critical facts which could influence the answer to any one of the questions presented can only be assumed. In rendering opinions, the Department of Justice is precluded by law from acting as legal counsel for any Oregon city. The opinions stated are our predictions of how courts would resolve questions of state and federal law. Our opinion is given solely for the use and benefit of Representative McCracken [who requested the opinion].

On November 9, 1983 the Attorney General's Office, on behalf of the State of Oregon, brought this declaratory judgment action against defendants in state court, seeking a declaration that the incorporation, existence and operation of the City of [*3] Rajneeshpuram is unconstitutional under the Establishment of Religion Clause of the first amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendants removed the action to this court.

Defendants' affidavits establish that on January 10, 1984, state officials issued a NOTICE OF REVOCATION OF OPPORTUNITY TO RECEIVE FUNDS DISTRIBUTED PURSUANT TO SEC 18, CH 533, OL 1981 AND ORDER GRANTING OPPORTUNITY FOR CONTESTED CASE HEARING. That notice stated in part:

The authority of Rajneeshpuram to receive funds distributed pursuant to Secs 10 to 20, ch 533, OL 1981 is revoked immediately pursuant to the conclusions of Attorney General opinion 8148 dated October 6, 1983, as amplified by the letter (attached) from Deputy Attorney General William Gary, dated December 29, 1983. This revocation arises under the provisions of Oregon Constitution, Article I, Sections 205, and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The opinion concludes and additional factual investigation verifies that the interrelationship of public and corporate entities creates an unconstitutional mingling [*4] of secular and religious functions. The Oregon and United States Constitutions would be violated by the expenditure of state funds under these circumstances.

Defendants' affidavits further show that on January 24, 1984, a NOTICE OF INTENTION TO REVOKE ACCESS AS A CRIMINAL JUSTICE AGENCY TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND OTHER INFORMATION THROUGH THE LAW ENFORCEMENT DATA SYSTEM AND ORDER GRANTING OPPORTUNITY FOR CONTESTED CASE HEARING was issued to the City of Rajneeshpuram by state officials stating similar reasons as the prior notice. On August 6, 1984, the City of Rajneeshpuram received a letter stating that the constitutionality of the City of Rajneeshpuram would be an issue at a contested case hearing regarding the City's application for partial exemption to the Fire Marshal. That letter stated in part: . . . .An application for partial exemption under that statute has been received from the City of Rajneeshpuram and is in order for consideration but for the Opinion of the Attorney General No. 8148 of October 6, 1983, that the City of Rajneeshpuram may not exercise municipal powers under the Constitution of the state of Oregon, Art I, sections 2, 3, 4 nd 5, and the First Amendment of the [*5] U.S. Constitution.

Olin L. Greene, State Fire Marshal, will personally conduct the hearing. The main issue upon which you will be permitted the opportunity to make the record is whether or not the City of Rajneeshpuram may be recognized as a city for purposes of ORS 476.035(4). This is in light of the opinion of the Attorney General that the city as he believes it to be constituted, may not exercise municipal powers under the constitution of the state of Oregon and the U.S. Constitution. Because there may be issues of fact in connection with the basis for the opinion of the Attorney General, the burden will be upon you to present sufficient facts for the Fire Marshal to reach an opinion contrary to that previously reached by the Attorney General, assuming that to be your position. If the Fire Marshal concurs that the city is valid for purposes of submitting a partial exemption application, he will render a final decision at the hearing on the subject of the partial exemption application, the application being complete in all other respects.

Defendants now seek to join these state officials in this action as parties plaintiff, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a) and 21, on the grounds [*6] that (1) in the absence of these parties this court's exclusive jurisdiction is threatened; (2) complete relief cannot be accorded those before the court; and (3) the current parties will be subjected to multiple litigation and potentially inconsistent decisions. Defendants allege that the state officials they seek to join as parties plaintiff have revoked the City of Rajneeshpuram's emergency telephone funds; refused to train or certify any Peace Force officers of the City; publicly announced that the City's Peace Force is not valid; revoked the City's access to the National Crime Information Computer; denied the City the right to enforce the State Fire Code, and threatened to revoke the City's access to the Oregon Law Enforcement Data System. Defendants further allege that all actions taken by these state officials have been based upon the representations made by the Office of the Attorney General that the City of Rajneeshpuram is unconstitutional. Defendants contend that these actions and the accompanying offers of the state officials to administrative hearings to contest the actions deprive the defendants of a federal forum and subject them to the possibility of inconsistent and [*7] multiple litigation as to the constitutionality of the City. Plaintiff opposes the motion for joinder on the grounds that complete relief can be accorded those already parties, except for claims against the State of Oregon which are barred by the eleventh amendment; there is no threat, imminent or otherwise, that these state officials will adjudicate the constitutional issues without the consent of the defendants; and none of the state officials to be joined claim an interest relating to the subject of this action, other than the interest of the State of Oregon.

Applicable LawEdit


Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a) gives the trial court considerable discretion to decide whether to join a non-party and requires that several conflicting interests be balanced on a case-by-case basis. It provides in part:

(a) PERSONS TO BE JOINED IF FEASIBLE. A person who is subject to service of process and whose joinder will not deprive the court of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action shall be joined as a party in the action if (1) in his absence complete relief cannot be accorded among the parties.

There is no precise formula for determining whether a particular non-party should be joined [*8] under Rule 19(a). Underlying policies include plaintiff's right to determine whom he or she shall sue, avoiding multiple litigation, providing the parties with complete and effective relief in a single action, protecting the absentee and fairness to the other party. Bakia v. County of Los Angeles of State of Cal., 687 F.2d 299, 301 (9th Cir. 1982).

In addition, Fed. R. Civ. P. 21 provides in relevant part:

. . . Parties may be dropped or added by order of the court on motion of any party or of its own initiative at any stage of the action and on any terms as are just.

The scope of application of Rule 21 is extremely broad. The court can exercise its power to allow or to order joinder of any party whose presence is found to be necessary or desirable. See 7 C. Wright and A. Miller § 1683.

Analysis and ConclusionEdit


This court must determine whether it is appropriate, necessary, and fair to all parties to join certain state officials as parties plaintiff in this action. Because the matter before the court involves only the motion to join parties and not injunctive relief, the court need only decide whether there is a danger of multiple adjudication and inconsistent [*9] obligations, and not whether that danger is imminent.

State officials filed this action on behalf of the State of Oregon asking the court to determine whether the operation of the City of Rajneeshpuram is constitutional. Two months after filing the complaint state officials determined that the operation of the City of Rajneeshpuram is not constitutional and took actions against the City of Rajneeshpuram solely upon that ground. While asking the court to determine the facts and decide the issue, state officials took independent action based, for the most part, upon the Attorney General's opinion which assumed certain critical facts.

The City of Rajneeshpuram is entitled by Oregon law to an administrative hearing to contest the State of Oregon's actions. As a result, the parties must adjudicate the issue of the City of Rajneeshpuram's constitutionality in the administrative setting as well as in this court. The State of Oregon claims that the City of Rajneeshpuram's right to an administrative hearing does not present a conflict because the City of Rajneeshpuram can simply not exercise that right and can accept the state action. But this begs the question. The determinative issue is [*10] the need to resolve the question of the City of Rajneeshpuram's constitutionality in the appropriate forum consistently and completely.


The court finds that, under these circumstances, it is proper to add as parties plaintiff state officials who have taken or threaten to take state action based exclusively upon their resolution of the federal issue which is before the court in this action.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendants' motion to join additional parties is GRANTED.

DATED this 26 day of April, 1985.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).