Sunday, December 04, 2011

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Hernandez v. United States, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136298 (ND OH, Nov. 28, 2011), an Ohio federal district court rejected a federal inmate's complaints regarding provision of kosher meals to Jewish inmates, particularly during Passover in 2011.

In Washington v. Adams, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136916 (ED CA, Nov. 28, 2011), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate who is a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America be permitted to move ahead with his complaint that his religion requires him to change his name to a Muslim name, but that his request to do so was denied by the warden.

In Santana v. Aviles, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137319 (D NJ, Nov. 30, 2011), a New Jersey federal district court rejected an inmate's claim that as a pre-trial detainee his rights under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA were violated when, during a 9-month unit lock-down, he was denied the right to attend church services.

In White v. Linderman, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138375 (D AZ, Nov. 29, 2011), an Arizona federal district court permitted an inmate who believed in Messianic Judaism to move ahead with his claim that his rights under federal and state law were infringed when prison authorities refused to provide him with a kosher diet.

In Murray v. Corrections Corporation of America, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138305 (D AZ, Nov. 28, 2011), an Arizona federal district court permitted a Seventh Day Adventist inmate to move ahead with his claims against a number of defendants in which he alleged he was denied a religious diet. However the court dismissed the food service company as a defendant because "a Bivens action is only available against federal officers, not private companies acting under color of federal law in operating a prison."

In Burford v. Troutt, (MD TN, Nov. 18, 2011), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate's complaint that he was required to return to his cell when Christian services were being held in the commons area, that there were problems with holding Muslim study sessions, and he was not allowed to wear a kufi.