Sunday, January 03, 2010

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Peyton v. Felker, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120287 (ED CA, Dec. 7, 2009), a California federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate's claim that two prison officials retaliated against him after he exercised his First Amendment right to practice his religion.

In Riva v. Secretary of Public Safety, 2009 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1348 (App. Ct. MA, Dec. 24, 2009), a Massachusetts state appeals court, without reaching the merits, dismissed a claim by a Muslim prisoner who wanted removal of a Nation of Islam chaplain who had been appointed on an interim basis to lead services for Orthodox Muslims. He sought to have a traditional Muslim chaplain appointed, or Muslim inmates lead Friday Jumu'ah services. The court held the wrong parties had been named and that sovereign immunity existed as to a RLUIPA damage claim.

In Howard v. Epps, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120182 (SD MS, Dec. 23, 2009), a Mississippi federal district court adopted recommendations of a federal magistrate judge (2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120204, Oct. 30, 2009) and dismissed a complaint by a Rastafarian prisoner that he was not permitted to grow his hair in dreadlocks in accordance with his religious beliefs.