Prisoner free exercise cases – April 3, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Patterson v. Quigley, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54165 (ED PA, March 30, 2018), a Pennsylvania federal district court refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the presence of guns during religious services generally prevented him from focusing on prayer, and that he was also prevented from engaging in religious exchange with other inmates.

In Muhammad v. Wheeler, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54292 (ED AR, March 30, 2018), an Arkansas federal district court ordered that a Muslim inmate be provided a halal diet that includes one daily serving of halal meat, kosher meat or fish.

In Johnson v. Lopez, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54348 (D NV, March 30, 2018), a Nevada federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed on his claim that he was denied adequate edible food, that he was denied his Eid al-Fitr feast in 2014, and on his request to be allowed to possess scented oils and obtain pre-dawn Ramadan meals.

In Dorsey v. Shearin, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54440 (D MD, March 30, 2018), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Native American inmate that he was not allowed to attend group religious services because of his disciplinary segregation.

In Sims v. Jones, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53094 (ND FL, March 29, 2018), a Florida federal district court adopted in part a magistrate’s recommendations (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54652, March 1, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s 1st Amendment challenge to a beard length rule and strip search policy.  The magistrate had concluded, however, that defendant had violated RLUIPA.  The court, nevertheless, sent back to the magistrate judge for additional consideration plaintiff’s RLUIPA challenges.

In Sanford v. Madison County, Illinois, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54704 (SD IL, March 29, 2018), an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54709, March 1, 2018) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that the county jail did not allow Jumu’ah services to be held in a common space on Fridays, but only allowed use of a fellow-inmate’s cell.

In Lombardo v. Freebern, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54735 (SD NY, March 30, 2018), a New York federal district court dismissed without prejudice claims by a Jewish inmate at a psychiatric detention center that his free exercise was burdened by denial of religious items and grape juice, interruption of his conversation with a rabbi, delivery of a broken menorah and denial of attendance at a Passover seder.