Sunday, May 25, 2014

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In  Sutton v. City of Philadelphia, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70242 (ED PA, May 21, 2014). a Pennsylvania federal district court, while dismissing a Muslim inmate's complaint that he was sometimes not served his vegetarian meals, allowed him to move to trial on his claim that the food service company maintained a discriminatory religious alternative meal system that provided kosher meals that sometimes included meat, but only vegetarian halal meals.

In Covington v. Mountries, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69204 (SD NY, May 20, 2014), a New York federal district court concluded that a Muslim inmate had adequately pled that a lock down which prevented him from attending weekly Jumu'ah services substantially burdened his religious exercise, but failed to allege defendant's involvement. The court gave plaintiff 45 days to amend his complaint.

In Gilmore v. Augustus, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69296 (ED CA, May 19, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge refused to allow a Muslim inmate to amend his complaint to allege that he was unable to fully enjoy his religious worship because of pain and suffering from excessive force used against him by a correctional officer.

In Shehee v. Anlin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69290 (ED CA, May 19, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a civil detainee's complaint that while he was granted a religious vegan diet, often servers ran out of food that met his dietary requirements.

In Price v. White, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70133 (WD KY, May 21, 2014), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity and mootness grounds a challenge by a Jewish inmate to grooming standards that required him to cut his hair.

In Leishman v. Patterson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69909 (D UT, May 20, 2014), a Utah federal district court dismissed damage claims by an inmate who was an adherent of Asatru who was not permitted to possess rune tiles made of wood or conduct Blot ceremonies.

In Harris v. Sawyer, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70349 (D AZ, May 22, 2014), and Arizona federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate's claim that on two occasions he was not allowed to attend religious services.

In Pressley v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, 2014 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 308 (PA Commnw. Ct., May 23, 2014), a 3-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth court dismissed 1st Amendment but not RLUIPA claims by a Muslim inmate who had requested a kosher diet because prison authorities were not cleaning cookware and serving utensils properly before using them for preparing halal meals.

In Williams v. Madrid, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55826 (ED CA, April 21, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed without prejudice a complaint by an uncommitted civil detainee being held as a sexually violent predator that the Establishment Clause was violated when he was required to participate in the Better Lives Treatment Program.