Sunday, February 08, 2009

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Pinkston-El-Bey v. Illinois, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6724 (SD IL, Jan. 30, 2009), an Illinois federal district court dismissed at the screening stage claims by an inmate who is a member of the Washitaw Nation of Muurs. Plaintiff sued the governor of Illinois and the warden of virtually every penal institution in Illinois, alleging that state prisons have not adequately accommodated religious beliefs of Washitaw Ismaili Moslems.

In Goodvine v. Swiekatowski, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6946 (WD WI, Jan. 26, 2009), a Wisconsin federal district judge permitted a Sunni Muslim prisoner to proceed with RLUIPA and 1st and 14th Amendment claims relating to restrictions on his religious literature, refusing him a copy of the Qu'ran, denying him a halal diet, refusing to adjust his meal schedules to accommodate fasts and refusing to assist him in his religious research.

In Washington v. Brown, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6846 (ED CA, Jan. 21, 2009), a California federal magistrate judge denied defendants' motion for summary judgment and permitted plaintiff to proceed with claims that various prison officials denied him participation in the Ramadan fast.

In Robinson v. Jacquez, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7560 (ND CA, Jan. 23, 2009), a California federal district court held that an inmate's allegations, liberally construed, state a 1st Amendment claim that that he was not provided kosher meals or permitted to attend Jewish religious services.

In Shatner v. Page, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8324 (SD IL, Feb. 4, 2009), an Illinois federal district judge awarded a prisoner, who was a member of both the Church of Light and the Rosicrucian faith, damages totally $1770 for impropoer deprivation of his Sacred Tarot, Tarot cards, religious books and his religious medallion (as well as for imprper reading of his legal mail). The court found violations of plaintiff's free exercise rights, or RLUIPA and of the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act.