Sunday, March 31, 2013

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Bolds v. Cavazos, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40393 (ED CA, March 20, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate's complaint that the confiscation of his television set infringed his free exercise rights by preventing him from receiving religious programming.

In McClendon v. Caruso, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40884 (WD MI, March 25, 2013), a Michigan federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when authorities treated his religious fast as if it was a hunger strike and required him to undergo to a check of his vital signs.

In Washington v. Caldwell, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40764 (ED MI, March 22, 2013), a Michigan federal district court, adopting a magistrate's recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43707, Jan. 31, 2013), dismissed a complaint by a Protestant inmate that the prison chaplain refused to put him on the list for the Muslim fast of Ramadan.

In McKissick v. Owens, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41703 (SD GA, March 25, 2013), a Georgia federal district court agreed with a magistrate's recommendations and dismissed an inmate's complaint that his free exercise rights were violated when non-vegan trays were used to serve vegan meals. UPDATE: The magistrate's decision is at 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46165, Feb. 21, 2013.

In Handy v. Cummings, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41282 (D CO, March 25, 2013), a Colorado federal district court, rejecting parts of a magistrate's recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187115, Nov. 27, 2012), held that genuine issues of fact remain in connection with a Muslim inmate's complaint that his Islamic prayer book and prayer schedule were confiscated and then lost.

In Bloom v. Jennings, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41970 (WD VA, March 25, 2013), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that he was prohibited from possessing his rosary because it violated restrictions on altered property and from possessing his cross necklace because it violates restrictions on the size of medallions.

In Miller v. Bouchard, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41849 (ND NY, March 26, 2013), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41853, March 4, 2013) and dismissed a Muslim inmate's complaint that he was prohibited from praying or wearing his Kufi while outside of his cell.

In Todd v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43008 (ED CA, March 26, 2013), California magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate's complaint regarding his religious diet and confiscation of Creativity material. The court concluded that Creativity is not a religion, but merely a secular belief system based on an isolated teaching: the promotion of the White Race.

In Mootry v. Flores, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42942 (ED CA, March 25, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to attend Jumu'ah services in the absence of a Muslim chaplain or a volunteer to supervise inmate ministers, and prison authorities failed to obtain such a person to supervise services.

In Holman v. Hogue, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32849 (WD PA, March 8, 2013), a Pennsylvania federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42770, Feb. 15, 2013) and dismissed a Muslim inmate's complaint that the county jail in which he was incarcerated does not provide an Imam for religious services.

In Griffin v. Superintendent, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37069 (ND NY, March 18, 2013), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42064, Jan. 31, 2013) and dismissed a habeas corpus petition brought by an inmate who was denied parole after refusing to take the  Sex Offender Counseling and Treatment Program because assuming responsibility for the offense in the program would require him to lie in violation of his Jehovah's Witness religious beliefs.

In Mobley v. Coleman, 2013 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 78 (PA Commwlth. Ct., March 27, 2013), the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that a Nation of Islam inmate can move ahead with his claims that the lack of separate Nation of Islam services violates his federal and state free exercise rights. But it rejected his claims that his rights under RLUIPA and the Pennsylvania Religious Freedom Protection Act were also violated.

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