Sunday, February 06, 2011

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Ofeldt v. McDaniel, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8661 (D NV, Jan. 19, 2011), a Nevada federal district court rejected an inmate's claim that his 1st Amendment and RLUIPA rights because the prison chapel has no Asatru materials and he is not allowed to order materials from outside.

In Washington v. Adams, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8875 (ED CA, Jan. 21, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate's suit seeking to add his religious name to his commitment name.

In Cain v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9393 (WD MI, Feb. 1, 2011), a Michigan federal district court approved recommendations of a magistrate judge that were filed almost three years earlier (2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119146, March 31, 2008), in a lengthy opinion rejecting complaints of an inmate who was a member of the Shetaut Neterian (ancient African) religion about inadequacies in meals served to him in various Michigan prisons in light of his religious dietary needs.  In adopting the magistrate's recommendations, the court modified the report "to incorporate circuit court holdings regarding suits under the RLUIPA contained in opinions published after the report was issued."

In Cryer v. Massachusetts Department of Corrections, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1632 (D MA, Jan. 7, 2011), a Massachusetts federal district court reconsidered an order issued in November 2010 and permitted a Native American inmate to proceed with his 1st Amendment and RLUIPA claims to the extent they are limited to seeking use of tobacco during the once-monthly smudging ceremony. The magistrate's report in the case is at Cryer v. Clarke, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140843 (Aug. 26, 2010).

In Guzman v. Marshall, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9214 (CD CA, Jan. 31, 2011), in a decision dealing primarily with other claims, a California federal district court held that in a habeas corpus proceeding by an inmate challenging his denial of parole, it could not consider plaintiff's Establishment Clause claim that he was required to participate in a religious based AA class because the court is limited to considering procedural complaints about the parole process.

In Love v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10102 (D NJ, Jan. 31, 2011), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed most of the equal protection and free exercise claims brought by plaintiff, who had filed numerous previous lawsuits. Plaintiff complained about a long series of practices while he was in segregated confinement and after he was released into the general prison population, relating to access to Jewish worship services, Passover observance and access to his tallit and to tefillin. The court dismissed all but three narrow claims presented by plaintiff.

In Halloum v. Ryan, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10490 (D AZ, Jan. 27, 2011), an Arizona federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with claims that he was denied a religious shaving waiver; defendant refused to distribute a copy of the Qur'an to him; authorities failed to accommodate his fasting during Ramadan, prohibited Muslim inmates from holding communal prayer and failed to provide Muslim inmates sufficient food because of their religious practices.