Sunday, October 06, 2013

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Goode v. Bruno, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140404 (D CT, Set. 30, 2013), a Connecticut federal district court allowed a Wiccan prisoner to proceed with most of his claims against the Department of Corrections Religious Services Director for failing to allow him to observe 8 seasonal holidays, participate in various rituals and purchase various religious items.

In Banks v. Beard, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140629 (MD PA, Sept. 30, 2013), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a complaint that indigent Muslim inmates were unable to participate in the purchase of optional menu items for the feasts of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adhah, and that Muslim inmates lack access to prayer oils.

In Blue v. Skolnik, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140901 (D NV, Sept 30, 2013), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist LEXIS 140920, Aug. 21, 2013) and permitted a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint alleging extensive delays in furnishing him a kosher diet.

In Uduko v. Cozzens, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141178 (ED MI, Oct. 1, 2013), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate's findings (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140802, July 26, 2013) and permitted an inmate to proceed with his claim that his removal as leader of the prison Protestant faith group was in retaliation for protesting the cancellation of a planned religious retreat and for lodging a complaint against two officers.

In Walker v. Artus, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141574 (ND NY,Set. 27, 2013), a federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Muslim inmate's suit seeking to require prison authorities to provide a closed circuit TV or audio feed of Jumu'ah services to inmates in Special Housing Unit who are not permitted to attend congregate religious services.

In Kadamovas v. Lockett, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141795 (SD IN, Sept. 30, 2013), an Indiana federal district court dismissed a complaint by an Orthodox Christian inmate that his religious common fare diet was nutritionally inadequate, spoiled, or insufficient. The court held plaintiff had failed to show that named defendants were directly involved in any free exercise or RFRA violation.

In LaRock v. Amato, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142002 (ND NY, Sept. 30, 2013), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142029, June 4, 2013) and dismissed an inmate's general claim that all involuntary protective custody inmates are precluded from practicing religion.

In Gambino v. Pugh, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142138 (ND OH, Oct. 1, 2013), an Ohio federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that he was denied kosher meals and Jewish literature. Plaintiff failed a written test as to his sincere belief in the Jewish faith and refused to re-take the test.

In Rumsey v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140956 (WD MI, Sept. 30, 2013), a Michigan federal district court largely adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142633, June 24, 2013) and dismissed most of plaintiffs' claims that their right to practice their Native American religion had been infringed through, among other things, dismantling of a sweat lodge. Plaintiffs were allowed to proceed on their complaint that they were ordered to move their religious ceremonies indoors and that they were required to have at least 5 Native American Traditional Way members present in order to conduct group worship.

In Kamau v. Louisiana State Police Department, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142861 (WD LA,Sept 30, 2013), a Louisiana federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142860, Sept. 9, 2013) and dismissed a Muslim inmate's complaint that he was not permitted to join with others in Juman prayer outside his dormitory room.

In Harris v. Pimentel, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143432 (ED CA, Sept. 30, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate's claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when, during a search of his cell, a correctional officer stepped on plaintiff's copy of the Qur'an and slid it under the bunk on the floor.