More recent prisoner Free Exercise cases – April 3, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Brooks v. Walsh, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40484 (D NV, March 20, 2017), a Nevada federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when authorities refused to correct a mistaken designation of his chosen religion, which led to him being denied a kosher diet and participation in Hebrew-Israelite religious services.

In Higgins v. Rodriguez, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40700 (ED CA, March 21, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit by a Muslim inmate who alleged that his halal food tray at various times had missing or incomplete food items.

In Harrell v. California Forensic Medical Group, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40819 (ED CA, March 21, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s claim that denial of treatment for Hepatitis with a new drug violated his free exercise rights and his right to procreate because he cannot have a child without giving that child Hepatitis.

In Becker v. Reddish, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41163 (MD FL, March 22, 2017), a Florida federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that prison officials confiscated his prayer shawl, tulasi bead necklace, and krsna pendant.

In Bayadi v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41244 (WD VA, March 22, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to continue with his complaint that pork-free Common Fare meal trays are not kept properly separated from meal trays containing pork products.

In Al-Azim v. Everett, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41570 (ED VA, March 22, 2017), a Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41716, March 3, 2017) and dismissed two inmates’ suit complaining that they did not receive a diet consistent with Nation of Islam beliefs.

In Russell v. Pallito, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42009 (D VT, March 23, 2017), a Vermont federal district court, rejecting a magistrate’s contrary conclusion (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185274, Aug. 9, 2016), interpreted 42 USC 1997e(e) as allowing an inmate to recover damages for violation of his Free Exercise rights even though he did not suffer any physical injury.  At issue was prison policy to provide Muslim inmates kosher meals instead of halal meals.