Saturday, December 02, 2006

Two Prisoner Free Exercise Decisions

The usual flood of prisoner free exercise cases has slowed down recently. Here are the two that have appeared since my last collection of decisions:

In Slusher v. Samu, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84765 (D CO, Nov. 21, 2006), a Colorado prisoner claimed that authorities used his lack of a prison job as a pretext for refusing to permit him to attend Catholic mass. A federal district judge rejected his claim that this amounted to retaliation for filing certain grievances, but permitted him to proceed with a free exercise challenge to the denial.

In Watkins v. Trinity Service Group, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85592 (MD FL, Nov. 27, 2006), a Florida federal district court rejected a prisoner's claims that his rights were violated when meat products were present in the vegetarian meals served to him for religious reasons. The court found that the defendant company providing the meals had no authority to change the menu prescribed by the Sheriff's office. The court also held that merely receiving occasional meals that violate his religious tenets subjects plaintiff only to de minimis injury.