Sunday, June 30, 2013

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

[Note to readers: LEXIS Links in this and future postings are to Lexis Advance]

In Scott v. Shamsiddeen, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86522 (ND NY, June 20, 2013), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86474,  May 28, 2013) and dismissed an inmate's complaint that on two dates in 2011 he was deprived of Eid-ul-Adha religious meals. The problem resulted from authorities mistakenly believing plaintiff had been transferred.

In Jack-Bey v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86645 (WD MI, June 20, 2013), while rejecting class action certification and damage claims, a Michigan federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed with his injunctive action claim that "Moorish Science Temple of America-1928 Grand Body" should be recognized by prison authorities (and its practices accommodated) as a separate religious group from "Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc. (1934 Portion)".

In Fabre v. Thompson, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88116 (D OR, June 24, 2013), an Oregon federal district court dismissed a claim brought by plaintiff who was involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment that his free exercise rights were violated when authorities invaded his soul and psyche, blocking the pathways to commune with God.

In Olmos v. Ryan, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88118 (D AZ, June 24, 2013), an Arizona federal district court rejected a convicted child sex offender's claim that his probation conditions requiring that he obtain permission before going to places frequented by children under 18 violate his free exercise rights by preventing him from engaging in the close, frequent association with fellow believers.

In Lindsey v. Butler, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88601 (SD NY, June 18, 2013), a New York federal district court permitted plaintiff, a Muslim, to file an amended complaint alleging that his free exercise and due process rights were infringed when he was forcibly shave while being detained at a police station following his arrest. Police shaved petitioner because others in the planned police line-up did not have beards.

In Calhoun-El v. Maynard, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89945 (D MD, June 24, 2013), a Maryland federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that Muslim inmates do not receive ceremonial food packages equal to those given to inmates who keep a kosher diet.

In Turner v. Weikal, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90463 (MD TN, June 27, 2013), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended that a Muslim inmate be permitted to proceed with his 1st Amendment free exercise claims alleging that on 3 occasions he was not permitted to pray as required by his religious beliefs, he could not gather with other Muslims during Ramadan, he was not provided a correct religious diet, religious materials were removed from his room on two separate occasions, and he was retaliated against because of his Muslim faith. However his RLUIPA damage claims were dismissed.