Monday, April 15, 2013

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases-- Installment #2 For The Week

In Garner v. Kennedy, (5th Cir., April 2, 2013), the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the state of Texas had failed to adequately justify under RLUIPA its policy of prohibiting prisoners from wearing beards for religious reasons.

In United States v. Lepp, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51262 (ND CA, April 9, 2013), a California federal district court rejected a post-conviction attack on the sentence for possession and manufacture of marijuana imposed on defendant who had claimed that he was a practicing Rastafarian and that marijuana use was a necessary component of his religious practices.

In Neal v. McKune, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50769 (D KA, April 9, 2013), a Kansas federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate's complaint that on several occasions during two Ramadan periods prison officials failed to serve him breakfast early enough, so that he either missed breakfast or was very hurried in being able to eat before dawn.

In Gillis v. Skinner, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51112 (WD LA, April 7, 2013), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51131, Feb. 24, 2913) and dismissed an inmate's claim that a corrections officer asked him to leave church services because of his sexual orientation. The court found he was asked to leave because of disruptive behavior.

In Barstad v. Washington State Department of Corrections, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51805 (WD WA, April 10, 2013), a Washington federal district court adopted almost all of a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51808, March 5, 2013) and dismissed complaints of an inmate, a follower of the Rosicrucian Fellowship, that prison officials violated his rights by eliminating the ovo-lacto vegetarian diet and replacing it with a strict vegan diet. The court also dismissed an added complaints that scanning his identification card in order to get his meal amounted to imposing "the Mark of the Beast," and that eggs and milk were expensive at the prison commissary.

In Sims v. Cabrera, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51849 (ED CA, April 9, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate's claim that prison officials' refusal to remove his former gang affiliation from his bed card and central file prevents him from freely practicing his religion.

In two related cases, Maynard v. Wamble-Fisher, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52317 (D ID, April 8, 2013) and Austin v. Wamble-Fisher, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52318 (D ID, Apri 8, 2013), an Idaho federal district court permitted two inmates to proceed with their claims that terminating them from their volunteer positions aiding seriously ill inmates and otherwise reducing Christian religious activities violated their free exercise, RLUIPA and equal protection rights.

In Jabbar v. Contingency Work Force Solutions, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46661 (D MN, April 1, 2013), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51299, March 4, 2013) and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a Muslim inmate's claims that the contract food-service provider failed to provide food that complied with Muslim dietary restrictions by using itemswith alcohol and pork ingredients.

In Smith v. Washington Department of Corrections, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52547 (WD WA, April 11, 2013), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52625, March 6, 2013) and dismissed a Muslim inmate's objections to the food provided during Ramadan in 2010.