Prisoner free exercise cases – April 6, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Webb v. Broyles, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39755 (WD VA, March 30, 2015), a Virginia federal district court permitted a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with his claim that the food services manager falsely accused him of violating the religious diet agreement in order to save money by getting him suspended from the Common Fare diet.

In Guillory v. Weber, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39127 (ND NY, March 27, 2015), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39836, March 6, 2015) and dismissed complaints by a Jewish inmate regarding lack of religious services on one day, no meal for breaking Fast of Tammuz, and lack of a microwave to heat meals to eat in the Sukkah and inability to access the Sukkah on certain days.

In Washington v. Chaboty, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40245 (SD NY, March 30, 2015), a New York federal district court refused to dismiss an inmate’s complaint that his placement in the special housing unit was was unconstitutionally in retaliation for his giving a copy of the Qur’an with attached material to a corrections officer. The court dismissed his complaint about the lack of religious services and classes in SHU.

In Jenkins v. Stutsman County Correction Center Commissioner Chairman, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40614 (D ND, March 30, 2015), a North Dakota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40612, March 4, 2015) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint about the food furnished to him during Ramadan.

In Sessing v. Beard, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40834 (ED CA, March 30, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a complaint by an inmate seeking to have authorities construct an outdoor worship area for the exclusive use of adherents of Asatru/Odinism. A shared pagan grounds area already existed.

In Ealy v. Keen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40883 (MD PA, March 31, 2015), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints regarding additional Islamic classes, lack of a separate Halal meal plan, Ramadan arrangements, and rules on prayer oil and religious materials.

In Butts v. Martin, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40908 (ED TX, March 30, 2015), a Texas federal district court dismissed a Hasidic Jewish inmate’s complaint that on one occasion he was told by a corrections officer that he would either have to remove his yarmulke or leave the chow hall.  He left.

In Thompson v. Holm, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42028 (ED WI, March 30, 2015), a Wisconsin federal magistrate judge concluded that an allegedly wrongful removal of a Muslim inmate from the Ramadan participation list, which resulted in him missing two Ramadan meal bags, did not substantially burden his religious exercise.