Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Sweatman v. Rieben, 2013 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 96 (AL App., April 19, 2013), an Alabama state appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a prisoner's complaint that honor dorm inmates are required to attend religious services one a month. Plaintiff did not adequately preserve the issue on appeal.

In Perez v. Thaler, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56817 (SD TX, March 18, 2013), a Texas federal magistrate judge recommended that a Jewish inmate be permitted to move ahead with his suit seeking transfer to a different prison unit where kosher meals are available.

In Williams v. Farris, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57057 (SD IL, April 22, 2013), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a complaint by a pre-trial detainee of an elaborate conspiracy among his defense attorney, the prosecutor, and the state court to hold him for psychiatric review and medicate him in violation of his Muslim beliefs.

In Harrison v. Tarnoff, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57634 (ED CA, April 20, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge permitted an inmate to move ahead with his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when a prison official would not accept his request for a change to a Muslim name.

In Augustin v. Zych, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57694 (WD VA, April 23, 2013), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate's habeas corpus petition that alleged his due process and free exercise rights were infringed when he was not permitted to participate in the Rastafarian Ceremonial Meal.

In James v. Askren, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58279 (ED WA, April 23, 2013), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58474, April 8, 2013) and dismissed an inmate's suit alleging that several items he brought with him to prison-- two Qu'rans, two kufis, three bottles of prayer oils, incense sticks, a prayer rug and prayer beads-- were improperly removed from a box and apparently eventually donated to a local Islamic center.

In Smith v. Wildermuth, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32906 (ND NY, March 11, 2013), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58390, Jan. 24. 2013) and allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim that a corrections officer infringed his rights under RLUIPA and the 1st Amendment when he punished him-- including leading a physical attack on him-- for continuing his prayers instead of immediately speaking to him.

In Morrow v. Kelley, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57221 (ED AR, April 22, 2013), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57220, April 3, 2013) and permitted an inmate to proceed with his free exercise claim that authorities seized two religious books from his cell.

In Goodwill v. Clements, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58038 (ED WI, April 22, 2013), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, a former prisoner's claim that pagan inmates have been denied religious items, services, the use of land and have been punished or ignored.

In Powers v. Washington Department of Corrections, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58828 (WD WA, April 23, 2013), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58881, March 29, 2013) and dismissed a Muslim inmate's claims that nutritionally deficient meals during Ramadan violated his 1st and 8th Amendment rights. A claim that the Eid-al-Fitr feast was delayed was dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust internal remedies.

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