Prisoner free exercise cases – August 25, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Hazle v. Crofoot, (9th Cir., Aug. 23, 2013), the 9th Circuit held that an inmate whose parole was revoked after he refused to participate in a faith-based drug treatment program is entitled to compensatory damages. The court also remanded for further consideration plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief.

In Warner v. Patterson, (10th Cir., Aug. 22, 2013), the 10th Circuit dismissed as moot an Odinist inmate’s RLUIPA challenge to the denial to him of break-the-fast boxes and a blanket ban on materials from a particular publisher. Plaintiff was no longer in custody of the Utah Department of Corrections but, instead, had been temporarily transferred to federal custody to face federal charges.

In Smith v. Donahue, 2013 Ind. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1069 (IN App., Aug. 14, 2013), an Indiana appellate court upheld the denial of a new trial to an inmate who lost in a jury trial on his claim that authorities impeded his ability to convert from Roman Catholicism to Wicca, denied him items he needed to practice his new religion, treated him differently from other inmates and established Christianity as an institutional religion.

In Bell v. Parsons, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117155 (WD NC, Aug. 19, 2013), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that this observance of Ramadan was disrupted when the contents of his cell, including  a prayer rug, prayer oils, two Qur’an texts, two kufis, a prayer schedule and plastic prayer beads were removed as part of an emergency response to fires being set by prisoners.

In Rognirhar v. Foston, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117291 (ED CA, Aug. 19, 2013), a California federal district court dismissed as moot a complaint by an Asatru inmate that he was not permitted to wear an uncut beard. New regulations permit long beards.

In Alan v. Twaddell, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117404 (CD IL, Aug. 20, 2013), an Illinois federal district court allowed an African Hebrew Israelite inmate to move ahead with his complaint that his rights have been infringed because he is not able to get his dinner served after sunset on Saturday night. He believes he must fast on his Sabbath until sunset.

In Legate v. Stephens, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117236 (SD TX, Aug. 19, 2013), a Texas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117770, July 17, 2013) and permitted a Native American inmate to proceed with his claim that the prison’s grooming policy (requiring him to cut his hair), as well as other security and health policies (restricting his use of tobacco and wearing his medicine pouch) burden his religious practice.

In White v. Linderman, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117853 (D AZ, Aug. 20, 2013), an Arizona federal district court permitted a Messianic Jewish inmate to proceed with his complaint that he has been denied a kosher diet. The court criticized the prison’s requirement that plaintiff  furnish documentation from an outside source that Messianic Jews follow kosher rules.

In Nimmons v. Fischer, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117737 (WD NY, Aug. 20, 2013), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118059, July 30, 2013) and dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that his 1st Amendment rights were infringed when authorities confiscated a manuscript he was writing regarding The Nation of Gods and Earths inmates.

In Clay v. Livingston, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118116 (ND CA, Aug. 20, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed as moot, with leave to amend, a Muslim inmate’s complaint that Muslim inmates who are fasting during Ramadan are not receiving their lunches.

In Houston v. Schriro, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118867 (SD NY, Aug. 20, 2013), a New York federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim that he he was denied low-sodium Halal meals, being told he would have to change his religious preference in order to receive a low sodium diet that would have ameliorated his high blood pressure and high cholesterol.