Sunday, January 26, 2014

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Cottriel v. Jones, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6872 (WD OK, Jan. 21, 2014), an Oklahoma federal district court refused to hold the the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in contempt, finding that it has taken every reasonable step to comply with a prior injunction requiring it to furnish an Orthodox Jewish inmate with kosher food.

In Turner v. Hamblin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6986 (WD WI, Jan. 21, 2014), a Wisconsin federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate's claim that his free exercise rights were infringed because prison officials cancelled Jumuah and Taleem services when an outside volunteer was not available to lead them.

In Hicks v. Ryan, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7132 (D MA, Jan. 21, 2014), a Massachusetts federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate's complaint that he was not allowed to attend church services while he was in the infirmary.

Marshall v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7421 (MD PA, Jan. 22, 2014), is a Pennsylvania federal district court case in which an inmate is challenging the refusal to offer services for Nation of Islam and Muhammad's Temple of Islam adherents separate from broader Islamic services. The court concluded that prior opinions in the case already dealt with a number of issues raised in motions before it, denied plaintiff's motion to amend, and ordered defendants to comply with outstanding discovery requests.

In Cox v. Stephens, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7578 (SD TX, Jan. 22, 2014), a Texas federal district court denied a motion by a program analyst to dismiss him as a defendant in a suit by a Native American inmate who claims that grooming rules and rules limiting his wearing of a medicine bag and his participation in a pipe ceremony infringe his free exercise rights.

In Redd v. Lutgen, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8070 (ND IA, Jan. 23, 2014), an Iowa federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155252, Oct. 28, 2013) and dismissed an inmate's complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was told he must sign a "Ramadan Agreement" in order to participate in the Eid feast with other inmates, since his name appeared on the Ramadan list anyway.

In Clay v. Livingston, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9186 (ND CA, Jan. 24, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that Muslims fasting during Ramadan did not receive their lunches.