Sunday, August 03, 2014

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Dulaney v. Hollingsworth, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102220 (D NJ, July 28, 2014), a New Jersey federal district court held that habeas corpus is not a proper route to challenge a prison's treatment of the Hebrew Israelite religion as being part of plaintiff's Messianic Sabbatarian religion.

In Stokley v. Dismas Charities, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102234 (WD KY, July 25, 2014), a Kentucky federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed with his claim that the parole board required him to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program at a Catholic-sponsored facility that imposed religion on its residents.

Mitchell v. Indiana Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102418 (SD IN, July 28, 2014), an Indiana federal district court, while dismissing a number of claims, allowed a Rastafarin inmate to proceed with his claim against a corrections officer who allegedly forced him to cut his dreadlocks.

In Bobbitt v. Whitener, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102678 (WD NC, July 28, 2014), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a complaint by an inmate that authorities seized and would not return his Moorish Science Temple of America literature after he refused to sign a Personal Property Inventory Form.

In Mendell v. Kline, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103322 (SD IL, July 28, 2014), an Illinois federal magistrate judge permitted a Wiccan inmate to proceed, but only in his action for a declaratory judgment, with his complaint that he was denied the sue of Tarot cards.

In Lyons v. Nevada ex rel. Ortiz, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104902 (D NV, July 31, 2014), a Nevada federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate's claim that inmates were charged $1.25 to participate in the Eid al-Fitr feast and that Muslim inmates were yelled at while picking up their Ramadan meals.

In Oliver v. Harner, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105437 (SD IL, Aug. 1, 2014), an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105438, July 10, 2014) and refused to issue a preliminary injunction to a Hebrew Israelite inmate who complained that he received only a vegan, and not a kosher, diet, while Caucasians similarly situated received kosher meals.

Davis v. Abercrombie, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105006 (D HI, July 31, 2014), is another in a line of numerous decisions in a suit by Native Hawaiian inmates who complain they were denied daily outdoor group worship and access to various sacred items. In this decision the court granted summary judgment to defendants on various claims, but permitted plaintiffs to proceed with claims for compensatory and nominal damages for free exercise and RLUIPA violations.

In Shabazz v. Robinson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105370 (WD VA, July 31, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate's challenge to prison rules that allow inmates to grow beards for religious reasons only in segregated confinement, and not if they want to be housed in the general population.