Sunday, December 28, 2008

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Shaw v. Norman, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102744 (ED TX, Dec. 19, 2008), a Texas federal magistrate judge refused to grant summary judgment for defendants and permitted an inmate to move forward with his 1st Amendment an RLUPA challenges to confiscation of his property by prison authorities. Plaintiff's prayer rug was taken because he did not have property papers for it; his Koran was taken because he had altered it with tape; and his prayer beads were taken because he was wearing them around his neck.

In Moore v. McCracken County, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102786 (WD KY, Dec. 19, 2008), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed a free exercise claim by a Muslim prisoner who complained about the delay he suffered in being given access to a diet consistent with his religious beliefs. The court held that plaintiff had not shown that he was inadequately nourished during the two months before he was placed on the list of prisoners to receive a no-pork diet.

In Rhodes v. Alameida, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103335 (ED CA, Dec. 12, 2008) involved objections by a Native American prisoner that certain of his religious artifacts were destroyed by prison officials. A California federal magistrate judge refused to grant summary judgment to defendants, finding that they had not demonstrated a legitimate governmental interest in the prison policy that calls for destruction of disallowed property of inmates who have not paid to have the property mailed to a family member or friend. (See prior related posting.)