Sunday, February 24, 2013

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Abel v. Martel, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19638 (ED CA, Feb. 13, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing plaintiff's complaint that his rights were violated when authorities denied him the ability to purchase and personally possess certain religious items approved for group use by Wiccans, and when they confiscated and destroyed several of his religious items including ceremonial wands, a crystal and chalices.

In Shoemaker v. Williams, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19641 (D OR, Feb. 11, 2013), an Oregon federal district court rejected a Muslim inmate's claim that his rights were violated when the halal meals he was served only contained meat on two Islamic holidays per year. The remainder of the time they were only vegetarian or fish meals. Prepackaged halal meat meals could be purchased from the commissary.

In Anderson v. Rettke, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17793 (D MN, Feb. 11, 2013), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18745, Jan 2, 2013) and dismissed a jail inmate's complaint that he was not permitted to conduct a Native American pipe ceremony. Authorities said it would create a safety hazard from smoke and fire.

In Gutman v. Wrigglesworth, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18350 (WD MI, Feb. 12, 2013), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185987, Oct. 9, 2012) and dismissed a Jewish inmate's complaint regarding access to and removal from a kosher diet, his claim that he was not informed of the rules regarding participation in a kosher diet, and his allegation that he was not permitted to possess certain religious items.

In Shabazz v. Parris, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20264 (CD CA, Feb. 13, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate's conclusory free exercise allegations where the only facts alleged were that he is Muslim and the arresting officer used a religious epithet.

In Jouvert v. New York State, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11509 (ND NY, Jan. 29, 2013), a New York federal district court agreed with a magistrate's recommendation (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186103, Oct. 23, 2012) and dismissed a former inmate's claim that he was denied participation in Islamic classes, Islamic Friday services, and the 2009 Ramadan fast.

In Shannon v. Nero, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21029  (D MD, Feb. 8, 2013), a Maryland federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that while he was confined to administrative segregation he could not attend monthly Jewish religious services, and rejected his claim that he was denied kosher meals.

In Owens v. Beckley, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22223 (SD WV, Feb. 19, 2013), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22225, Jan. 31, 2013) and refused to issue a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiff who wanted authorities to treat New Age Druidry as a separate religion and provide means to practice it, rather than dealing with it as an aspect of the Wiccan program.  Plaintiff also sought to prevent officers from retaliating against him and others, claiming that an officer had raided the Wiccan locker and seized a book and a cord.

In Martin v. Lee, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22459 (WD LA, Feb. 14, 2013), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22461, Jan. 17, 2013) and dismissed a Muslim inmate's complaint that his right to participate in Friday Jumah services has been curtailed and that he is being served food that may contain pork products.

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