Prisoner free exercise cases – April 19, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Adams v. Scott, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47928 (CD IL, April 10, 015), an Illinois federal district court permitted five non-denominational civil detainees to move ahead with their complaint that their RLUIPA and free exercise rights were infringed by refusal to create non-denominational religious services and by a policy that requires them to declare an affiliation with a denomination in order to attend services.

In Prim v. Jackson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48970 (SD OH, April 14, 2015), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a number of complaints by an inmate, including his request that Natsarim be recognized as a subcategory under the Messianic Jewish faith and access to religious instructional videos.  However he recommended that plaintiff be permitted to proceed to an evdentiary hearing on his request for a preliminary injunction regarding Sabbath services, recognition of plaintiff’s religious calendar, sack meals on Friday night for the Sabbath and retaliation for filing grievances.

In Clark v. Davis, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4975 (ND CA, April 15, 2015), a California federal district court allowed a Messianic Jewish death row in mate to proceed with his challenge to a policy that limits his access to clergy.

In Masas v. Conte, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50009 (ND NY, April 16, 2015) a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50527, March 25, 2015) and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that correction officers threatened to assault him if he did not shave his beard that he wore because of his Muslim religious faith.

In Gomez v. Chill, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50800 (SD NY, April 17, 2015), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended on various procedural and substantive grounds dismissing the complaint by a Messianic Jewish inmate that he was denied kosher food and the right to attend Jewish religious services.

In Moore v. Hartley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50904 (D CO, April 17, 2015), a Colorado federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that while at a private correctional re-entry center his free exercise, RLUIPA and Establishment Clause rights were infringed by the requirement that each morning, inmates stand and recite the correctional center’s “Credo”, “Attitude”, and “Choices.”