Sunday, January 08, 2012

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Lizotte v. LeBlanc, (5th Cir., Jan 5, 2012), the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed on statute of limitations grounds a religious discrimination claim by a Muslim prison who claimed that he was not allowed out of his working cell block to attend Friday Muslim prayer services, even though Christian inmates with the same custody status were allowed to gather for prayer on Sundays.

In Venega v. Swarthout, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 779 (ED CA, Jan. 3, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a habeas corpus petition that alleged in part that the inmate petitioner's free exercise rights were violated when the California Board of Parole Hearings ordered him to attend religiously-based Alcoholics Anonymous programs in order to be found suitable for parole.

In Bradford v. Yates, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 626 (ED CA, Jan. 3, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate's religious discrimination and free exercise claims, saying that the complaint contained only vague allegations regarding the confiscation or the denial of religious materials and of name calling and harassment in general.

In Davitashvili v. Schomig, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1069 (D AZ, Jan. 4, 2012), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmaet's free exercise and RLUIPA complaints of problems with the kosher diet he was receiving. The court held that plaintiff had not shown a substantial burden on his religious exercise. While he received meals that did not comply with kosher requirements on some occasions during a 2-month period, these stemmed merely from periodic service-delivery related problems.