Sunday, October 02, 2011

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Burnett v. Hall, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107884 (MD TN, Sept. 22, 2011), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a claim that a county jail failed to provide Muslim religious services.

In Rodgers v. Shearidin, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108406 (D MD, Sept. 22, 2011), a Maryland federal district court rejected a Sunni Muslim inmate's claim that his rights under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA were violated when he was not permitted to attend communal worship while in administrative segregation.

In Davis v. Powell, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104537 (SD CA, Sept. 15, 2011), a California federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108053, Aug. 8, 2011) and dismissed with leave to amend complaints of a Muslim inmate regarding a prison ban on flammable prayer oil and rules that required him to choose between receiving a quarterly package of either food or prayer oil.

In Porter v. Wegman, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109205 (ED CA, Sept. 23, 2011), a California allowed an inmate who is a member of the House of Yahweh religion to proceed with his claim that he should be permitted to obtain kosher meals and celebrate Yahweh's Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.

In Prall v. Bocchini, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108902 (D NJ, Sept. 23, 2011), a New Jersey federal district court, while dismissing most of plaintiff's claims, permitted plaintiff ( a member of Nation of Gods and Earth) to move ahead with a RLUIPA claim if he amends his complaint to name proper defendants. Plaintiff alleges that his beliefs prevent him from cooperating with the state criminal justice process, including compliance with state prison rules and regulations. He says he is being forced to renounce his religious beliefs if he wants to participate in work, rehabilitative and educational programs that will shorten his time in the Management Control Unit.

In Smith v. Wright, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109069 (ND NY, Sept. 23, 2011), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109058, Aug. 31, 2011) and dismissed a claim by a Rastafarian inmate that his rights were violated when he was kept in segregated housing for 7 months because of his religious-based refusal to submit to a PPD test for tuberculosis.

In Guillory v. Tilton, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110089 (ED CA, Sept. 27, 2011), a California federal district court rejected an inmate's claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when a corrections officer removed uneaten food from his cell during Ramadan. Plaintiff had not applied through the chaplain for special permission to keep food in his cell.

In Florer v. Blakemaan, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110044 (WD WA, Sept. 27, 2011), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110047, May 31, 2011) and dismissed a Jewish inmate's complaint that in the Intensive Management Unit he was denied access to certain of his religious books that were not requested through the chaplain or other approved sources.