Sunday, October 30, 2016

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Smith v. Lind, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146953 (WD WI, Oct. 24, 2016), a Wisconsin federal magistrate judge allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with various of his claims relating to denial of adequate Ramadan meals, Eid-ul-Fitr feast foods, and a non-vegan Halal diet, as well as the prohibition on inmate-led services.

In Malone v. Duvall, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147031 (SD IL, Oct. 24, 2016), an Illinois federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate's complaint that on one occasion he was denied religious services.

In Houston v. Collerman, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148106 (ND NY, Oct 26, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed without prejudice a Muslim inmate's claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when, because of a false misbehavior report, he was unable to participate in Ramadan and denied his religious meals.

In Goulding v. Kaemingk, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148020 (D SD, Oct. 25, 2016), a South Dakota federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148327, Sept. 23, 2016), and dismissed an inmate's claim that his religious rights were infringed when authorities denied his request to hold his own non-denominational Christian worship services and Bible study on Saturdays.

 In Padilla v. Kernan, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148386 (SD CA, Oct. 24, 2016), a California federal district court dismissed for failure to pay a filing fee an inmate's complaint that he was denied kosher meals for a 15 month period.

In Wofford v. Austin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148907 (WD MI, Oct. 27, 2016), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate's complaint that he was not provided a replacement meal when his Ramadan meal was cross-contaminated by spillage from one part of the meal onto another, and that he was verbally harassed when he complained.

In Espinoza v. Irby, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149178 (D AZ, Oct. 25, 2016), an Arizona federal district court dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate's complaint that his kosher diet was discontinued.

In Booker v. Graham, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149332 (ND NY, Oct. 26, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate's complaint that Ramadan observance was impeded by a facility-wide lockdown and that he was denied access to weekly congregate religious services while in administrative segregation. However the court allowed plaintiff to move ahead with his claim of retaliation for filing grievances over the Ramadan lockdown.

In Raines v. Guembe, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149978 (ED CA, Oct. 27, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a complaint by a Wiccan inmate that there was a 6 week delay in his beginning to receive vegetarian religious meals after he requested them.

UPDATE: In Watkins v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, (11th Cir., Oct. 28, 2016), the 11th Circuit in a brief per curiam opinion affirmed a trial court injunction ordering the state to furnish a kosher diet to an inmate, rejecting the state's const containment and security arguments.