Sunday, February 01, 2015

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Brooks v. Roy, (8th Cir., Jan. 27, 2015), the 8th Circuit upheld dismissal of an inmate's claims that a chemical-dependency program conflicted with his Native American religious faith. From the complaint, the court could not determine the nature of the prisoner's religious beliefs and thus prison officials were not put on notice of his claims.

In Robertson v. Call, 2015 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 33 (KS App., Jan. 15, 2015), a Kansas state appellate court reversed a trial court's summary dismissal of a Messianic Jewish inmate's claim that allowing his meetings with his rabbi only to be by video link violates the free exercise and establishment clauses.

In Henderson v. Hernandez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8773 (ND CA, Jan. 23, 2015), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with 1st Amendment and RLUIPA claims that he has been denied congregate prayer, appropriate Ramadan and festival meals, a qualified Muslim chaplain and resource group, and various religious items. The court dismissed his claim that Muslim inmates should be housed in the same building.

In Grisham v. Pritcher, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9132 (MD TN, Jan. 27, 2015), a Tennessee federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that authorities refused to provide a room for Hanafi Muslims to meet twice a week for study and prayer.

In Payne v. Gipson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9218 (ED CA, Jan.26, 2015), a California federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate's claim for damages for denial of a Halal meal. Various other claims for equitable relief involving religious exercise concerns were dismissed as moot.

In Cejas v. Myers, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9258 (ED CA, Jan. 27, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended allowing an inmate to move ahead with his free exercise claim alleging that Buddhist inmates were denied unsupervised access to the chapel, while Jewish and Muslim inmates were allowed such access. UPDATE: The court adopted the magistrate's recommendations at 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46627 (April 9, 2015).

In Mohammed-Bey v. Pool, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9348 (ND CA, Jan. 26, 2015), a California federal district court denied a preliminary injunction and TRO to an inmate seeking for religious reasons to change his ethnicity from "negro," or "black" to "Moorish-American."

In Brown v. City of New York, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10469 (SD NY, Jan. 29, 2015), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate's complaint that he did not have access to an Imam.

In Dixie v. Virga, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11429 (ED CA, Jan. 29, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his complaint that Enhanced Outpatient Program prisoners were barred from attending Jumu'ah prayer sessions with General Population inmates. The court also ruled on a number of discovery requests.