Sunday, May 30, 2010

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Nelson v. Hubbard, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50549 (ED CA, April 27, 2010), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate's claim that he was restricted from practicing his religion, Asatru.

In Russell v. City of Philadelphia, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50456 (ED PA, May 19, 2010), a Pennsylvania federal district court rejected an inmate's complaint that while he was in administrative segregation for one month, he was unable to participate in communion, listen to religious programs on a transistor radio or possess a Bible. Plaintiff failed to allege these temporary restrictions infringed his sincerely held religious beliefs.

In Niemczynski v. Arpaio, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51318 (D AZ, May 24, 2010), an Arizona federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate's claim that his rights were violated when a sheriff ordered Christmas music played in a jail continuously for over 10 hours per day from mid-December 2008 to early January 2009. (See prior related posting.)

In Spurlock v. Gusman, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51485 (ED LA, May 21, 2010), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51518, May 5, 2010), and dismissed a complaint by a Baptist prisoner that prisons operated by the state had a wider array of religious activities than did his Parish prison.

In Wallace v. Miller, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51471 (SD IL, March 31, 2010), a federal magistrate judge denied a preliminary injunction in a suit brought by a Satmar Hasidic Jewish prisoner who claimed his rights under RLUIPA were being infringed when he was preventing from observing various religious practices. The magistrate judge found that plaintiff failed to show he has suffered irreparable harm. On review, a federal district judge (2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47715, May 14, 2010) questioned the finding of no irreparable harm and ordered defendants to respond before deciding the issue.

In Johnson v. McCann, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51998 (ND IL, May 21, 2010), an Illinois federal district court dismissed a now-paroled Rastafarian prisoner's claims that his 1st Amendment, RLUIPA and equal protection rights were infringed when correctional officials forced him to cut off his dreadlocks.