Sunday, October 05, 2014

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Allen v. Lizarraga, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136439 (ND CA, Sept. 26, 2014), a California federal district court rejected an inmate's claim in a habeas corpus proceeding that his free exercise rights were infringed by a state court's conclusion that the clergy-penitent privilege did not apply to his confession.

In Peele v. Klemm, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136935 (WD PA, Sept. 29, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed under RLUIPA with a challenge to a Department of Corrections policy that restricts participation in the Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha feasts to inmates who have participated in Ramadan services, who pay the cost of the feast and who are not in disciplinary custody.

In Williams v. Pollard, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137297 (ED WI, Sept. 27, 2014), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed an inmate to challenge the confiscation of his two folders of religious material and more broadly an unofficial policy that disfavors Nation of Islam as a religion, as well as retaliation against him for his earlier role in getting NOI recognized as a religion.

In Covington v Annucci, 2014 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4214 (Seneca Co. NY Sup. Ct., Sept. 25, 2014), a New York state trial court rejected a complaint by a Muslim inmate that he is sometimes treated by a female medical worker.

In Pittman v. Jesson, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137803 (D MN, Sept. 30, 2014), a Minnesota federal district court permitted a civilly committed sex offender to proceed against certain defendants with his complaint that rules barred him from wearing his Kufi outside his cell except during Jumah services and that he was prohibited from bringing his Koran into the yard, wearing his prayer beads at all times, doing his daily prayers in the yard, and keeping his prayer oils in his room.

In yet another decision in Davis v. Abercrombie, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139028 (D HI, Sept. 30, 2014), an Hawaii federal district court has now certified classes and subclasses in the class action on behalf of Native Hawaiian inmates who claim their religious rights were infringed.

In Harbin v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138215 ( D SC, Sept 30, 2014), a South Carolina federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139617, June 12, 2014) and dismissed an inmate's complaint that Nation of Islam inmates are not provided separate study group classes and services from other Muslims.

In Salam v. Delaney, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138479 (WD AR, Sept. 30, 2014), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138480, Sept. 8, 2014) and among other things dismissed a Muslim inmate's claim that he was denied a pork-free diet.

In Morceli v. Meyers, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141037 (ED CA, Oct. 1, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate's complaint because there was no evidence that the named defendant was responsible for the alleged policy of refusing to allow Muslim inmates to wear kufis in the dining hall, or to purchase and wear black kufis anywhere.