Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Kyles v. Mathy, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115551 (CD IL, Oct. 6, 2011), an Illinois federal district court rejected an inmate's claim that his rights were violated when there was a 39 day delay in his beginning to receive his religious vegan diet.

In Guy v. Mims, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115771 (ED CA, Oct. 6, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate's complaints regarding denial of a kosher diet and surrendering his yarmulke.

In Jupiter v. Johnson, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110743 (MD PA, Sept. 28, 2011), a Pennsylvania federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115406, April 26, 2011) and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies plaintiff's complaint that he was denied a halal vegetarian diet consistent with his Nation of Islam beliefs.

In Johnson v. Hafiz, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115945 (D MD, Oct. 7, 2011), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a complaint by an incarcerated psychiatric patient that his property, including his prayer book, were temporarily taken from him when he was placed in seclusion.

In Ashley v. Oliver, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115852 (ED TX, Oct. 6, 2011), a Texas federal magistrate judge   dismissed a claim by a Native American prisoner seeking to participate in Native American religious ceremonies, such as the Indian war dance and buffalo dance. The court, among other things, relied on mootness and qualified immunity as the basis for its decision.

In Lolley v. Louisiana Correctional Services, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112023 (SD AL, Sept. 29, 2011), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116283, Sept. 9, 2011) and dismissed all but one claim brought by a Native American inmate of a prison housing hiim under contract with the state. His claims regarding desecration of religious items, deprivation of herbs, lack of sweat lodge, and worship services were dismissed. He was permitted to move ahead with his claim regarding lack of ceremonial grounds.

In Bellamy v. Eagleton, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112086 (D SC, Sept. 29, 2011), a South Carolina federal district court adopted in part and rejected in part a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116210, July 21, 2011) and dismissed a claim for injunctive relief, but not a claim for monetary relief, in a suit in which an inmate claimed he was denied access to Buddhist religious books while in solitary confinement for 6 months.

In Hickman-Bey v. Shabazz, (TX App., Oct. 6, 2011), a Texas appeals court dismissed an inmate's claim against a Muslim prison chaplain and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Plaintiff claimed the chaplain wrongfully prevented him from attending Islamic services and programs.

In Kingsley Lajohn Wright v. Medical Mental Prison Reform Group, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116469 (CD CA, Oct. 6, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate's generalized complaint that "he is 'a very religious man,' but 'was denied the right to religion'."

In Rodriguez v. Schwarzenegger, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116481 (ED CA, Oct. 4, 2011), a California federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed against certain defendants on his claim that he was prevented from practicing his Native American religion by restrictions on his access to tobacco .

In Bonnell v. Burnett, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112323 (ED MI, Sept. 29, 2011), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116555, Aug. 10, 2011) and denied plaintiff summary judgment on his claim that he should be entitled to a kosher diet. The court concluded that questions of fact remained about the sincerity of plaintiff's religious beliefs.