Sunday, May 17, 2009

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Burton v. Clark, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39330 (ED CA, April 23, 2009), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a Jewish prisoner's challenges to his being removed from a kosher diet plan and being placed instead on a Religious Vegetarian diet. The court also rejected plaintiff's claim that he was prevented from attending religious services.

In Farrakhan v. Johnson, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40342 (ED VA, May 13, 2009), a Virginia federal district court rejected an inmate's free exercise and equal protection claims that he was denied a religious diet, was forced to eat while fasting and was forced to clean and relieve himself in view of female officers. The court held that he had not shown that his claims are rooted in his religious beliefs.

In Evans v. Albany County Correctional Facility, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40630 (ND NY, May 14, 2009), a New York federal district court rejected a Rastafarian prisoner's claim that his receiving the "wrong meals" a number of times (instead of his vegetarian diet) violated his free exercise rights. UPDATE: The magistrate's recommendation in the case is at 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45983 (ND NY, Jan. 30, 2009).

In Maier v. Swanson, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40822 (D MT, May 14, 2009), a Montana federal district court accepted a magistrate's recommendation to dismiss plaintiff's claim that his free exercise and equal protection rights and his rights under RLUIPA were infringed when prison authorities denied him tarot cards in administrative segregation.