Sunday, May 08, 2011

Recent Prisoner Free Excercise Cases

In Jihad v. Fabian2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47007 (D MN, May 2, 2011), a Minnesota federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate's complaints that he was not permitted to pray outside of his cell, that religious groups are permitted only one special holiday meal per year, that he could wear only state-issued headwear rather than his kufi outside his cell and the chapel, that an outside volunteer must be present at all religious services and that religious services are cancelled on public holidays. The court held, however, that sufficient factual issues remain for plaintiff to move ahead on his challenge to the refusal to provide him with halal meals. The magistrate's recommendations in the case are at 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46930, February 17, 2011.

In Blount v. Wright2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46543 (WD VA April 28, 2011), a Virginia federal district court rejected a free exercise and RLUIPA claim by an inmate who alleged that he was forced to eat non-kosher diet loafs for a week after he was falsely charged with disobeying a direct order regarding return of his lunch tray.

In Porter v. Wegman, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46660 (ED CA, April 22, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, claims by a member of the House of Yaweh that authorities failed to respond to their request for meals to observe Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. He also complained he was placed on the vegetarian, rather than kosher, diet.

In E.W. v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, 2011 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1104 (NJ App., May 3, 2011), a New Jersey state appellate court concluded that Department of Corrections programs are now wholly secular.  The Department had removed a satellite dish that had been given to it by Jehovah's Witnessses and had removed religious content from its treatment materials.

In Blaylock v. Guarini, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47576 (ED PA, May 4, 2011), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate's claims challenging the amount of food served to break the Ramadan fast, threats to cancel Ramadan services because inmates were not attending, shortening of Jum'ah services and the serving to Muslim inmates of cereal bars that contained pork products at the prison where he was formerly incarcerated.

In Bodie v. Tipten, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47466 (D AZ, April 27, 2011), an Arizona federal district court permitted a Navajo inmate to proceed with his complaint that his rights under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA were violated when officials interfered with his attempt to keep his hair that falls out to send to his niece for it to be burned with medicinal herbs according to Navajo religious traditions.

In Budge v. Arpaio, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47470 (D AZ, April 26, 2011), an Arizona federal district court dismissed an inmate's claim that he was denied religious services on several occassions and was denied doctor-approved religious meals.