Sunday, December 13, 2015

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Milum v. State, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 12571 (TX App., Dec. 10, 2015), a Texas state appeals court rejected a claim by a defendant in a child sexual assault case that he had ineffective assistance of counsel when his lawyer failed to object to a condition of community supervision that allowed him to enter a church, synagogue or other house of worship only to attend a public service.

In Hughes v. Godinez, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165938 (ND IL, Dec. 11, 2015), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to proceed against prison officials on his claim that restrictions on religious exercise imposed while he was in segregated housing for possessing contraband violated his free exercise rights.  While in segregated housing, he was not permitted to attend religious services in person or visit with clergy, and was allowed to view only one denomination's services on closed circuit television.

In Alderson v. Kelley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166272 (ED AR, Dec. 11, 2015), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166274, Nov. 17, 2015) and allowed an inmate to move ahead on his complaint that the prison warden is not properly implementing the Department of Corrections grooming policy that allows a prisoner to wear a beard where required by the inmate's sincerely held religious belief.

In Isaac v. Pruette, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166432 (ED VA, Dec. 10, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate's complaint that he was initially not added to the list for attending Jummah services, that two Jummah services were canceled, and that he was not furnished a religious diet.