Sunday, November 20, 2016

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Sanchez v. Mitchell, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157853 (D MA, Nov. 15, 2016), a Massachusetts federal district court dismissed an inmate's complaint that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was removed from the kosher diet list because he had received 3 incident reports within 30 days.

In Demara v. Barker, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158191 (ED CA, Nov. 15, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Native American inmate's complaint that authorities lost a religious package sent to him containing an engraved flute and ceremonial beads and instruments. This prevented him from attending flute ceremonies which caused him to be ostracized by his tribe.

In Kindred v. King, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158203 (ED CA, Nov. 15, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge, while dismissing a number of claims by a Native American civil detainee of interference with his religious practices, permitted plaintiff to move ahead with a claim that two of the defendants denied him spiritual or sacred items that do not implicate safety and security concerns.

In Sirleaf v. Wall, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158256 (ED VA, Nov. 15, 2016), a Virginia federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a complaint by an inmate who was "a member of the Common Wealth of Israel" that he was denied Ecumenical Pilgrim Feast, worship items and the right to celebrate the birthday and coronations of Emperor Haile Selaisse.

In Venkataram v. Bureau of Prisons, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158767 (SD FL, Nov. 15, 2016), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing with leave to amend a Hindu inmate's complaint that he was denied vegetarian meals that conform to his religious beliefs.

In Amaker v. Fischer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158785 (WD NY, Nov. 16, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge allowed a Nation of Islam inmate to file an amended complaint alleging that a corrections officer prevented him from possessing his religious materials.

In Hearns v. Gonzales, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159016 (ED CA, Nov. 15, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge refused to allow an inmate to amend his complaint to add a claim that a corrections officer poured bleach over his prayer rug and then confiscated it in retaliation for his filing this lawsuit.

In Feiger v. Smith, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159731 (ED CA, Nov. 16, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed a Jewish inmate's claims under state law (Unruh Civil Rights Act and Bane Act) regarding problems with the kosher diet program and religious services, but rejected defendants' immunity defense.

In Olodumare v. U.S. District Court2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160369 (SD FL, Nov. 17, 2016), a Florida federal magistrate judge dismissed as "a hodgepodge of unsupported assertions written in incomprehensible legalistic gibberish" a pleading captioned "All Writs of Habeas Corpus Declared by God."