Sunday, December 08, 2013

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Hilley v. Humes, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169577 (SD GA, Dec. 2, 2013), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169794, Aug. 20, 2013) and dismissed an inmate's complaint that Sunday morning Baptist church services were sometimes being cancelled or cut short.

In Chambers v. Harner, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170591 (SD IL, Dec. 3, 2013), an Illinois federal district court permitted an African Hebrew Israelite inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was denied a kosher diet and religious reading materials, and that his dietary request was handled differently because of his race.

In Vega v. Rell, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170835 (D CT, Dec. 4, 2013), a Connecticut federal district court held that defendants had qualified immunity on a Muslim inmate's complaint regarding administration of a program to purchase holiday food packages, but did not have immunity on complaints regarding identification of commissary items as Halal,"serving of non-Kosher, non-halal cheese on the common fare menu, and failure to clean rugs used for prayer.  The court also held that damages are not recoverable under RLUIPA.

In Nji v. Heath, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171112 (SD NY, Dec. 2, 2013), a New York federal district court permitted an Episcopalian inmate to proceed against one of the defendants on his complaint that his request to be let out of keeplock to attend Christmas services was denied.

In Woods v. Adams, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171178 (EDCA, Dec. 4, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge ordered plaintiff to file a new complaint clarifying his "mishmash"of claims. Among the claims were ones that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was denied a kosher meal and was prevented from wearing his kippah at all times.

In Jack-Bey v. Tribley, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171315 (WD MI, Dec. 5, 2013), a Michigan federal district court permitted an inmate who was a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America to proceed with his free exercise complaint that he was barred from entering the prison law library with religious reading material.

In Hoeck v. Miklich, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171648 (D CO, Dec. 5, 2013), a Colorado federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171645, Nov. 7, 2013) and dismissed without prejudice complaints by an inmate who is a member of the Church of God that defendants deprived him of meals to observe holy days and feasts, a place for worship, the right to observe his Holy Sabbath without retaliation, and religious objects (including a Hymnal) needed to follow doctrines of "Biblical Christianity."