Monday, February 25, 2008

Recent Prisoner Free Excercise Cases

In Smith v. Kyler, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12586 (MD PA, Feb. 20, 2008), a Pennsylvania federal district court rejected the claims of a Rastafarian prisoner that his free exercise and equal protection rights, as well as his rights under RLUIPA, were violated by authorities' refusal to provide weekly group prayer services led by a Rastafarian prayer leader.

In Lane-El v. Indiana Department of Corrections, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13192 (SD IN, Feb. 20, 2008), an Indiana federal district court rejected plaintiffs' claims that their free exercise and equal protection rights, as well as their rights under the Indiana constitution, were violated when the Assistant Superintendent at Pendleton Correctional Instituiton temporarily suspended religious activities of the Moorish Science Temple of America. The suspension was ordered so that officials could investigate claims that inmates were being charged money to have their names placed on the list of those who could attend Moorish Science services.

In Odom v. Dixion, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11748, (WD NY, Feb. 15, 2008), a New York federal magistrate judge dismissed, for failure to demonstrate proof, claims by a prisoner that his constitutional rights were violated by the denial of properly prepared kosher meals.

In Scott v. High Desert State Prison, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12170, (ED CA, February 6, 2008), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a prisoner's RLUIPA complaint that was too vague for the court to determine whether or not it was frivolous. Plaintiff, a member of the House of Yahweh, alleged that religious vendors were not approved and prison chaplains were ordered to deprive him of his right to religious activities.

In Bridgewater v. Scribner, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12264 (ED CA, Feb. 6, 2008), a California federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim prisoner to continue with his claim that his free exercise rights were violated when was prevented from attending a festival to commemorate one of the five holy pillars of Islam. However, plaintiff was required to file an amended complaint if he wished to proceed as to certain of the defendants.