Sunday, June 14, 2015

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Rowell v. Cox, 2015 Nev. App. Unpub. LEXIS 243 (NV App., , May 27, 2015), a Nevada appeals court affirmed dismissal of an inmate's complaint that his free exercise rights under the state and federal constitutions were infringed when prison authorities refused to furnish him a low-sodium, soybean-free, kosher diet so he could meet both his health and religious needs.

In Womack v. Cross, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73884 (SD IL, June 8, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Native American inmate to proceed with his free exercise and equal protection challenge to the prison chaplain's hostile impediments to Native American ceremonies and worship.

In Young v. Biter, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73944 (ED CA, June 8, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a Messianic Jewish inmate's 200-page complaint alleging, among other things, denial of a kosher diet and denial of inmate minister status.

In Anderson v. United States, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74249 (ED MO, June 9, 2015), a Missouri federal district court dismissed a suit by a prisoner awaiting trial on possession and distribution of heroin charges seeking a declaration that the government's decision to indict him and hold him for trial violates his free exercise rights.  He claims that he "is a student of Esoteric and Mysticism studies" and that he distributes heroin to "the sick, lost, blind, lame, deaf, and dead members of Gods' Kingdom" to save their souls.

In Ramrattan v. Fischer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74510 (SD NY, June 9, 2015), a New York federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, a Hindu inmate's complaint regarding failure to hire a Hindu chaplain and failure to provide him with a religious diet.

In Garcia v. Godinez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75125 (SD IL, June 10, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted an inmate who had changed his faith from Hebrew Israelite to Orthodox Jewish to move ahead with his complaint that he was being denied use of tefillin because the Department of Corrections contracted rabbi refused to instruct him in their use since he did not consider him Jewish.

In Wright v. Lassiter, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75838 (ED NC, June 10, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a Rastafarian inmate's complaint that prison authorities refused to recognize certain holidays he sought to observe.