Sunday, April 17, 2016

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Williams v. Wilkinson, (10th Cir., April 14, 2016), the 10th Circuit, reversing the district court, held that a Muslim inmate could move ahead with his RLUIPA and 1st Amendment challenges to the denial of his request for a kosher diet, even though a halal diet would have been available to him if he requested it.

In Banks v. United States Marshals Service, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45931 (WD PA, April 4, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46624, Feb. 24, 2016) and dismissed a damage action alleging that a jail chaplain failed to procure Wiccan tools and a Wiccan bible for plaintiff, and that various defendants failed to provide a volunteer wiccan chaplain.

In Johnson v. Gonzalez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46688 (ED CA, April 6, 2016) a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate's complaint that religious items including his Qur'an were destroyed when authorities disposed of his excess property in preparation for his move to a segregation unit.

In Dixon v. Allison, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46775 (ED CA, April 6, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a former inmate's vague claim that his religious rights were infringed when placed in lockdown.

In Locascio v. Longinetti, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46918 (D NJ, April 7, 2016), plaintiff sued after his supervised release was revoked for promoting gang signs, namely wearing a shirt with a design that included a swastika that plaintiff claimed was a religious, not a Nazi, symbol. A New Jersey federal district court permitted plaintiff to move ahead with a suit for an injunction to prevent his religion from being used against him in future parole proceedings. It dismissed his claims for damages and overturning of his parole revocation.

In Vaughn v. Wegman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47354 (ED CA, April 7, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Jewish inmate's complaint that he was not allowed to continue his participation in the Jewish Kosher program and services.

In Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc. v. Thompson, 2016 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 269 (KY App., April 8, 2016), a Kentucky state appeals court upheld a prison rule that inmates use their legal name on official documents.  Plaintiff, a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America, had a grievance rejected by prison authorities because he signed it including his "attribute or tribal name." He claimed refusing to allow him to use this violated his free exercise rights.

In Gordon v. Fisher, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48305 (ND MS, April 11, 2016), a Mississippi federal district court permitted a Jewish inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his requests for Jewish religious material and food were denied.

In Vincent v. Stewart, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48535 (WD WA, April 11, 2016), a Washington federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by a Hare Krishna inmate that his religion required his diet to include fresh milk, and the vegan or metabolic diets he was forced to choose between did not satisfy his religious and health needs.

In Talib v. Guerrero, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49891 (CD CA, March 14, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed complaints by four plaintiffs, who were held overnight on a stolen vehicle charge that their religious head dresses and spiritual jewelry were forcibly removed.  The suit involved over a dozen other complaints about his treatment as well.