Prisoner free exercise cases – August 20, 2012

In McKinley v. Maddox, (10th Cir., Aug. 14, 2012), the 10th Circuit reversed the district court and remanded for further proceedings an inmate’s complaint that he was denied the right to attend off-site church services for a month, with no services being offered at his correctional facility.

In Sorenson v. Minnesota Department of Corrections2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107912 (D MN, Aug. 2, 2012), a Minnesota federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112495, June 20, 2012) and rejected free exercise, RLUIPA and 14th amendment claims by plaintiff who complained that while he was serving a state prison sentence he was not allowed to attend his father’s funeral.

In Albaiaty v. Pocwierz2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113509 (D NE, Aug. 13, 2012), a Nebraska federal district court dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s complaint that prison authorities would not allow him to have an English copy of the Qur’an brought to him by his family in addition to, or in exchange for, an Arabic language version he currently has.  He claimed that inmates are allowed to have several copies of the Christian Bible, but only one of the Qur’an.

In Paladino v. Newsome2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113748 (D NJ, July 31, 2012), a New Jersey federal district court rejected an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was denied the opportunity to attend religious services while in administrative segregation.

In Patterson v. West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112686 (D WV, Aug. 10, 2012), a West Virginia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112801, July 3, 2012) and dismissed generalized religious discrimination claims by an inmate, apparently involving access to Muslim or kosher meals coordinated with Ramadan fasting, access to a Qur’an and a Muslim spiritual leader.

In Streater v. Thaler, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113448 (ED TX, Aug. 13, 2012), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113612, July 1, 2012) and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies the portion of an inmate’s retaliation complaint that alleged he was placed in lock down for four days without privileges, and was denied the right to attend Ramadan services.

In Carter v. Unnamed Wallens Ridge State Prison Employees2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116060 (WD VA, Aug. 16, 2012), a Virginia federal district court dismissed as moot an inmate’s complaint that he had been prevented from participating in the Ramadan celebration. The court refused to continue the action so plaintiff could exhaust his administrative remedies on complaints about the quality of food during Ramadan.

In Gray v. Arpaio2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115498 (D AZ, Aug. 16, 2012), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding denial of a religious diet.