Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Guy v. Mims, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150358 (ED CA, Oct. 18, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge allowed an Orthodox Jewish inmate to proceed with his complaint that it took 147 days before he was furnished with kosher meals.

In Phillips v. Palmer, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152643 (ND IA, Oct. 23, 2013), an Iowa federal district court permitted plaintiff who is civilly detained as a sexually violent predator to move ahead with his general claim that he has been denied religious materials and recognition of the religion of his choice.

In Mack v. Yost, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152713 (WD PA, Oct. 24, 2013), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a damage claim by a Muslim inmate who alleged religious harassment in the course of his commissary job.

In Borkholder v. Lemmon, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153249 (ND IN, Oct. 24, 2013), an Indiana federal district court, in an opinion whose language is unusually sympathetic to an inmate's religious claims, enjoined prison authorities from revoking plaintiff's religiously motivated vegan diet merely because he purchased chicken-flavored ramen noodles from the prison commissary. The inmate says he discards the meat flavoring packets and eats only the noodles.  The commissary does not offer a vegetarian noodle option.

In Artis v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, 2013 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2580 (NJ App., Oct. 25, 2013), a New Jersey state appellate court affirmed the decision of the Department of Corrections to respond to a civilly committed inmate's complaint and allow Special Treatment Unit inmates from two buildings to attend religious classes and services together.  The court held that the inmate's claims regarding joint choir and choir practices need to be clarified if he wishes to pursue them further.