Monday, December 19, 2011

Police Officer's Mocking of Plaintiffs' Religion Is Not Free Exercise Violation

In Huynh v. City of Houston, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142989 (SD TX, Dec. 12, 2011), Vietnamese owners of a game room in Houston, Texas sue challenging repetitive excessive citations issued to them by a Houston police officer Mark Leija. Plaintiffs alleged that "on one occasion, Officer Leija mocked their religious beliefs by making reference to a Buddha statue inside the game room and by joking with patrons that Plaintiffs' religion and the statue were not helping them."  The court held, however, that: "Because they allege no facts showing that Officer Leija restrained them from the exercise of their religious beliefs, Plaintiffs fail to state a cognizable First Amendment free exercise claim."