Sunday, November 08, 2009

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Rider v. Yates, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101009 (ED CA, Oct. 27, 2009), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be permitted to move ahead with a free exercise, due process, equal protection and RLUIPA challenge to the destruction of his copy of The Book of Shadows, a sacred Satanist text. However the court found insufficient allegations regarding a discriminatory policy against pagans.

In Collins v. Levenhagen, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101390 (ND IN, Oct. 29, 2009), an Indiana federal district judge rejected an inmate's claim that his free exercise rights and his rights under RLUIPA were infringed when Native American religious services were scheduled on Wednesdays at the same time he voluntarily worked in a prison job.

Bowen v. Florida Parole Commission, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102880 (MD FL, Oct. 20, 2009), was a habeas corpus action brought by an inmate who was re-imprisoned for violating the conditions of his early release. A Florida federal district judge held that the habeas action was not the proper mode for considering plaintiff's claim that his free exercise rights had been violated by the requirement that he use no alcohol or intoxicants. Plaintiff, a Catholic, argued that this prevented him from taking wine during communion. Plaintiff's rearrest was not based on a violation of this condition, but instead on violations of other conditions of his release.

In Pappas v. Oakland County, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102946 (ED MI, Nov. 5, 2009), a Michigan federal district court accepted the recommendation of a federal magistrate judge (2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102951, Oct. 15, 2009), to dismiss a claim against the county by an inmate who alleged that while in a special jail unit for at-risk inmates, he was denied the opportunity to attend church services.