Sunday, July 22, 2012

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Chavez v. Lewis, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97753 (ND CA, July 13, 2012), a California federal district court denied the habeas corpus petition of a state prisoner who claims that his continued placement in the prison's security housing unit violates his 1st Amendment free exercise rights as well as his rights under RLUIPA. Authorities claimed that petitioner had two pictures containing the Mactlactlomei symbol-- which they say was evidence of gang affiliation and petitioner claims was a religious symbol.

In De'Lonta v. Johnson, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98705 (WD VA, July 17, 2012), a Virginia federal district court denied on various grounds free exercise and RLUIPA claims by a female inmate who was a member of the Assemblies of Yahweh affiliation of Judaism who was seeking kosher meals, a head scarf and performance of a candle lighting ceremony.

In Wright v. Godinez, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98950 (ND IL, July 16, 2012), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a prayer cap, prayer rug, and religious oil that he needed in order to practice his religion.

In Yisrael v. Beasley, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98899 (ED NC, July 17, 2012), a North Carolina federal district court permitted an inmate who practiced the Hebrew Israelite religion to move ahead with his claim that his right to wear a tallit and kippah was improperly restricted. However the court dismissed his claims regarding access to kosher food and recognition of the Hebrew Israelite religion by prison officials because those demands were now largely met by prison authorities.