Sunday, October 11, 2015

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Christian Separatist Church Societyy of Ohio v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134125 (SD OH, Oct. 1, 2015), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended allowing various individual inmates to proceed with their complaint that by having only one recognized Protestant organization, prison officials have infringed their free exercise rights under the 1st Amendment and RLUIPA. Plaintiffs claim their separatist beliefs are theologically distinct and inimical to those of the recognized group. However the church itself lacks standing to bring a RLUIPA claim. Various other claims were also recommended for dismissal.

In Aragon v. Erlanger, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134656 (D CO, Oct. 1, 2015), a Colorado federal district court adopted in part a magistrate's recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96185, July 23, 2015), a Colorado federal district court dismissed complaints by a Messianic Jewish inmate regarding the preparation of kosher food and date for observing Passover.

In Etterson v. Newcome, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135670 (ED VA,Oct. 5, 2015). a Virginia federal district court allowed a former inmate to move ahead with his 1st Amendment damages claim for having been wrongly taken off the Ramadan menu.

In Ishmael v. Oregon Department of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136071 (D. OR, Oct. 6, 2015), an Oregon federal district court dismissed a suit by an African Hebrew Israelite of Jerusalem inmate who complained that he was not allowed to use his religious name on mail and correspondence.

In Holmes v. Godinez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137388 (ND IL, Oct. 8, 2015), an Illinois federal district court allowed inmates to move ahead with a class action complaining, among other things, that the free exercise and RLUIPA rights of hearing impaired inmates are infringed by inadequate accommodation at religious services.

In Barrett v. Peters, 2015 Ore. App. LEXIS 1203 (OR App., Oct. 7, 2015), an Oregon appellate court allowed an Oregon inmate incarcerated in Florida under the Interstate Corrections Compact to move ahead with his habeas corpus action complaining that he is not allowed to wear the "Celtic tonsure" hair style required by his Glefiosa religion in violation of the Oregon Constitution.