Sunday, October 08, 2017

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Williams v. Blood, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160062 (D UT, Sept. 27, 2017), a Utah federal district court dismissed an inmate's clam of retaliation for his complaining about his religious diet. The court agreed to appoint counsel for his complaint regarding ending of Islamic congregational meetings when no approved outside volunteer was available.

In Womack v. Perry, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160271 (ED CA, Sept. 27, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate's complaint that defendant cancelled bi-weekly Muslim services in one location because of a disagreement with an inmate there.

In Faver v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160857 (WD VA, Sept. 29, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with RLUPA claims regarding wearing of a beard, the source from which he can acquire prayer oils, and his religious diet. His 1st Amendment claims were dismissed.

In Hall v. Helder, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161626 (WD AR, Sept. 29, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that there had been a 2-week delay in furnishing him a religious diet.

In Shabazz v. Lokey, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162270 (WD VA, Sept. 30, 2017), a Virginia federal district court after a bench trial dismissed an inmate's suit charging confiscation of his Nation of Islam materials.  Officials had mistaken the materials for gang-related Nation of Gods and Earth materials.

In Corley v. City of New York, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162761 (SD NY, Sept. 28, 2017), a New York federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was prevented from acquiring a "Jewish ID" that would give his access to kosher meals, and was denied kosher meals once he received that ID.

In Cary v. Phol, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163128 (WD MI, Oct. 3, 2017), a Michigan a Michigan federal district court permitted a Native american inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to wear his medicine bag for a 10-day period.

In Cagle v. Ryan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165387 (D AZ, Oct. 4, 2017), an Arizona federal magistrate judge (while dismissing a large number of plaintiff's claims) allowed an inmate who had converted from Christianity to Islam to move ahead with his complaint about the denial of a halal diet for some 9 months.

In Sariaslan v. Rackley, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165681 (ED CA, Oct. 4, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge, in a case on remand from the 9th Circuit, gave a Muslim inmate 30 days to file an adequate amended complaint setting out of his allegations that he purchased raisins, honey, and dates for his Ramadan meal, but never received them.

In O'Carroll v. Lanigan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165788 (D NJ, Oct. 6, 2017), a New Jersey federal district court permitted an inmate who practiced Odinism (Asatru) to move ahead with his complaint that while Christian and Muslim inmates are allowed to wear metal medallions, Odinist inmates are not permitted Thor's Hammer medallions made of metal. UPDATE: The same court issued essentially identical opinions in a similar claims by different inmates, in Scaffidi v. Lanigan, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166012 (D NJ, Oct. 5, 2017), and Halstead v. Hughes, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166607 (D NJ, Oct. 5, 2017).