Sunday, February 03, 2013

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Thompson v. Smeal, (3d Cir., Feb. 1, 2013), the 3rd Circuit vacated the trial court's decision and remanded for further proceedings an inmate's complaint that Christian inmates were not allowed to congregate for special feasts on Christmas and Easter, even though various other religious groups were allowed special religious meals.

In Weeks v. Corizon Medical Services, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10016 (ED MO, Jan. 25, 2013), a Missouri federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that he was forcibly injected with a tuberculosis test, in violation of his sincerely held beliefs as a member of The House of Yahweh.

In Lewis v. Zon, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10374 (WD NY, Jan. 25, 2013), a New York federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate's complaint that his RLUIPA and free exercise rights were violated by prison policies in the Special Housing Unit requiring the plastic wrap covering his kosher meals to be removed and barring him from attending congregational services. It also rejected his claim that denying him food he needed for medical reasons on Jewish fast days violates the Establishment Clause.

In Pennick v. Williamson, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10420 (WD WA, Jan.25, 2012), a Washington federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds an inmate's complaint that for two days he was mistakenly left off the list of those to receive Passover food.  In a separate order (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10489, Jan. 24, 2013) the court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185127, Oct. 19 2012) to allow plaintiff to proceed with his complaint regarding what lists control entitlement to Passover meals.

In Blanks v. Cate, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11233 (ED CA, Jan. 25, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing complaints by a Rastafarian inmate that authorities failed to procure a Rastafarian chaplain, did not provide a separate outside place of Rastafarian worship, delayed issuing renewed artifact chronos and approval of a Rastafarian religious vendor.

In Ward v. Rich, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11310 (CD CA, Jan. 25, 2013), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185223, Sept. 26, 2012) and dismissed claims that an inmate was punished for continually singing gospel songs, and that he was denied his Bible for three days.

In Warren v. Washington, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12679 (WD MI, Jan. 30, 2013), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185360, Dec. 10, 2012) and dismissed an Orthodox Jewish inmate's complaint that he was discriminated against, was banned from the building where the Messianic Jewish group was allowed to continue their services, and was forced to practice his religion outside on a smoke pad.

In Crawford v. Bukowski, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12113 (CD IL, Jan. 28, 2013), an Illinois federal district court dismissed an inmate's claim that he was denied vegan meals that were required by his religious beliefs.

In Papa v. Chester County Prison, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13054 (ED PA, Jan. 31, 2013), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that he had not received kosher meals, had rarely seen a rabbi, did not have his worship requests met and received a Tanach only after significant delay.

In Sargent v. New Hampshire Department of Corrections, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13964 (D NH, Jan. 31, 2013), a New Hampshire federal magistrate judge in a supplemental report concluded that an inmate's free exercise rights were not violated when he was barred from proselytizing other inmates during the sex offender treatment program.

In Ericson v. Magnusson, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12992 (D ME, Jan. 31, 2013), a Maine federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185504, Dec. 18, 2012) and permitted an inmate to move ahead with claims for declaratory or injuntive relief based on his complaint that he was not allowed to attend Protestant worship services or fast, and was not given access to sufficient hymnal books or a baptismal font.