Sunday, July 17, 2011

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Kuperman v. Wrenn, (1st Cir., July 14, 2011), the 1st Circuit affirmed the dismissal of claims by an Orthodox Jewish former prisoner that his rights were violated by requiring him to have a beard no more 1/4 inch in length.

In Garcia v. Clark, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73647 (E CA, July 8, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a preliminary injunction be issued requiring staff at a substance abuse treatment facility to furnish plaintiff, an Orthodox Jewish inmate, with the same kosher meals that are provided to similarly situated inmates and to provide him a place to pray at breakfast time. Plaintiff claimed that correctional officers harass, degrade and mock him, continuously take his Kosher food and are attempting to deny him all Kosher meals because he is not picking up his morning meal. UPDATE: The court adopted the magistrate's recommendations at 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108284, Sept. 22, 2011.

In Sherman-Bey v. Marshall, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73869 (CD CA, July 8, 2011), a California federal district court accepted the findings and recommendations of a federal magistrate judge (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73801, April 25, 2011) and allowed an inmate who was a member of the Moorish Science Temple to proceed with his free exercise claim that he was denied the right to purchase a red fez because red was seen as gang colors; and with his 1st and 14th Amendment claims that Moorish Science Temple adherents were denied separate congregational services. RLUIPA claims and claims he could not buy scented oils were dismissed.

In Kindred v. California Department Mental Health, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74908 (ED CA, July 11, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissal of claims by plaintiff, who is housed at a state hospital, that his rights were infringed when he was not permitted to buy a prayer rug and one of his spiritual books was damaged. Plaintiff was permitted to file an amended complaint as to some of his official capacity RLUIPA claims.

In Chase v. City of Philadelphia, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75463 (ED PA, July 12, 2011), a Pennsylvania federal district court denied a TRO to a pre-trial detainee who requested kosher meals, finding that he does not hold a sincere belief in the Jewish religion.

In Bean v. Mancuso, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74994 (WD LA, July 12, 2011), a federal district court accepted a federal magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75005, June 17, 2011) and dismissed as frivolous an inmate's claim that he needed a vegetarian diet for religious reasons.

In Harris v. Lappin, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73003 (ED VA, July 7, 2011), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a former inmate's claim that racial and religious discrimination led to his being denied a sentence reduction for completing a drug abuse program.

In Mayweathers v. Swarthout, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76413 (ED CA, July 13, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be permitted to proceed with his claim that he should be provided kosher meals until halal meals are available in prison.