Thursday, February 02, 2017

6th Circuit Rules On Qualified Immunity In Prisoner Case

Last month in White v. Pauly, (S.Ct., Jan. 9, 2017), the U.S. Supreme Court in a police shooting case emphasized that when officials claim qualified immunity from damages, determining whether the official violated "clearly established" law requires examination of particularized facts rather than a determination at a "high level of generality." Yesterday the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals applied that principle in a suit by a prisoner claiming he was denied his 1st Amendment right to kosher meals.  In Hermansen v. Thompson, (6th Cir., Feb. 1, 2017), the court (citing White) upheld a finding of qualified immunity, saying:
... [W]e find the instant record devoid of support, in fact or law, for the notion that it should have been obvious to defendants that their provision of kosher food products to Hermansen, prepared in a separate kitchen facility, was nonetheless violative of his First Amendment free exercise rights because the same utensils used to prepare or serve otherwise approved meat products had also been used to prepare or serve otherwise approved dairy products, at some point, without having first been kashered and certified by a rabbi.
[Thanks to Tom Rutledge for the lead.]