Prisoner free exercise cases – August 13, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In  Allah v. Semple, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131476 (D CT, Aug. 6, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court dismissed a Nation of Gods and Earths inmate’s complaint that his ability to practice his religion has been blocked.

In Evans v. Prisk, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131900 (WD MI, Aug. 6, 2018), a Michigan federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132655, July 5, 2018) and dismissed a Jehovah’s Witness inmate’s free exercise claim, but permitted him to move ahead with his equal protection complaint that the rule requiring at least 5 inmates before a group religious service will be held was applied unequally.

In Lopez v. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133827 (CD CA, Aug. 7, 2018), a California federal magistrate dismissed, with leave to amend, a Jehovah’s Witness free exercise and equal protection claims alleging denial of weekly religious services and of chapel time with his volunteer chaplain.

In Simmons v. Atkins, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133863 (ED CA, Aug. 7, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that he is not allowed to conduct sweat lodge ceremonies for himself and other indigenous inmates.

In Crayton v. Ramey, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133954 (ND CA, Aug. 6, 2018), a California federal district court allowed an inmate who was a member of the “original Hebrew faith (Black Jews) religions” to move ahead with his free exercise complaint that defendant made “foul derogatory remarks ridiculing … [his] Hebrew religious faith.”