Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Sareini v. Burnett, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34525 (ED MI, March 31, 2011), a Michigan federal district court permitted a Muslim plaintiff to move ahead with his complaint that prison authorities cross-contaminate the vegetarian meal option offered to inmates. However it rejected his claim that his rights were violated when he was denied a halal diet and not permitted to possess certain religious items. The court also rejected a claim that prisoner banquet restrictions prevented accommodation of Muslim religious holidays. The magistrate's recommendation is at 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142414, Dec. 23, 2010.

In Hennis v. Tedrow, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34705 (WD PA, March 31, 2011), a Pennsylvania federal district court rejected claims by a practitioner of "orthodox Nazarite vow Rastafarianism" that his rights were violated when he was told to cut his dreadlocks, and was denied vegetarian meals during a lock down. The court dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies his claim that he was deprived of his religious headgear.

In Inzunza v. Moore, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34610 (ND TX, March 31, 2011), a Texas federal magistrate judge rejected an inmate's complaint that House of Yahweh members are not permitted to worship together as a separate religious group. There is no outside volunteer presently available to lead the services.

In Brown v. Graham, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34345 (ND NY, March 31, 2011), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34383, March 30, 2011), and dismissed an inmate's complaint that his rights were violated when on one occasion he was deprived of a kosher meal.

In Hemphill v. Jones, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35040 (ED OK, March 31, 2011), an Oklahoma federal district court rejected a claims by an adherent of nations of Gods and Earths that his rights were violated when on one occasion his vegetarian/ non-pork food tray was cross contaminated, and when a package containing religious items-- vials of oil and home made soap-- was diverted for inspection and never delivered to him.

In Corouthers v. Flowers, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35004 (ND FL, March 16, 2011), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate's claim for $30,000 in damages and mandatory injunctive relief. Plaintiff objected to Muslim prison chaplains calculating the dates of Ramadan using a calendar rather than the actual sighting of the moon.

In Hartmann v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36409 (ED CA, March 24, 2011), a California federal district court dismissed a claim against the Secretary of the California Corrections Department complaining that prisons do not employ Wiccan chaplains. The complaint lacked allegations that connected the Secretary to the challenged policy.

In Kirksey v. Frank, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36297 (D HI, March 31, 2011), an Hawaii federal district court rejected a Muslim inmate's claim that he was denied a diet consistent with his religious belief and was denied access to religious items.

In Brady v. Marsh, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36685 (ED CA, March 28, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate's complaint that while in the Solano County jail he was not provided with a kosher diet or a Torah.

In Cacciaguidi v. State, (ID App., April 5, 2011), an Idaho appeals court rejected an inmate's claim that her free exercise rights were violated when the staff of a drug rehabilitation program did not permit her to say "God" in therapeutic community proceedings. It also rejected her claim that her free exercise rights were violated by not being able to defend herself against false charges from other participants in the therapeutic community.

In Sisneroz v. Whitman, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37240 (ED CA, April 5, 2011), a California federal district court rejected claims by a civil detainee that his free exercise rights were violated when he was not permitted to participate in religious services while being held in jail.

In Maxwell v. Golden, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33944 (ED AR, March 29, 2011), an Arkansas federal district court accepted most of a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37587, Feb. 7, 2011), and held that an inmate's free exercise rights were not violated by denying him the right to correspond with a female inmate to whom he claimed to be married. Plaintiff claims they were married pursuant to their G-Doffeeist religion. The court permitted plaintiff to proceed with his free expression challenge to the inmate correspondence policy that required him to produce a marriage license or court documentation of his marriage to correspond with his wife.