Sunday, January 19, 2014

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In State of New Mexico ex rel Peterson v. Aramark Correctional Services, LLC, (NM App., Jan. 15, 2014), a New Mexico appeals court held that an inmate's prior suit under the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not bar on issue preclusion or claim preclusion grounds a qui tam action under the state Fraud Against Taxpayers Act against the company that had a contract to provide prison meals.

In Nelson v. Jackson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5222 (SD OH, Jan. 15, 2014), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended denying a Jewish inmate's summary judgment motion because of factual questions about whether plaintiff's beliefs in keeping kosher and not using a microwave on Saturdays are sincerely held. The court also denied summary judgment on plaintiff's complaint that meat and dairy were served together to him in the same meals.

In Dixie v. Virga, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5892 (ED CA, Jan. 15, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge recommended permitting a Muslim inmate to proceed with various of his free exercise and RLUIPA challenges to a decision to prohibit inmates in the Enhanced Outpatient Program from attending Jumu'ah prayer sessions with inmates from the General Population. Plaintiff's equal protection challenge was dismissed with leave to amend.

In Evans v. Jabe, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6454 (ED VA, Jan. 17, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate's complaint that his free exercise and RLUIPA rights were infringed when in a lock down period that occurred during Ramadan 2010, six times breakfast trays were incomplete or not timely.

In Cohen v. Wagner, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6426 (ED PA, Jan. 16, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, a Jewish inmate's complaint that the food he was served was not kosher and that his religious text (Tanach) was destroyed.