Prisoner free exercise cases – August 27, 2012

In Williams v. Cate2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116472 (ED CA, Aug. 17, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing claims by an inmate of the House of Yahweh faith that he was denied a kosher diet, not given funding to purchase religious materials, and that defendants spread false propaganda and denied worship services for House of Yahweh.

In Bell v. Parsons2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117800 (WD NC, Aug. 21, 2012), a North Carolina federal district court ordered a Muslim prisoner who complained that his religious items were confiscated from his cell in a prison shake down during Ramadan to show he had exhausted his administrative remedies, or else face dismissal of his lawsuit.

In Bryant v. Johnson2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118173 (WD VA, Aug. 21, 2012), a Virginia federal district court dismissed objections by a Muslim inmate that prison officials would not extend the Ramadan feeding policy to a fast outside of Ramadan that plaintiff alleged he undertook for religious reasons. Plaintiff skipped 17 consecutive meals and then resisted efforts by prison officials to weigh him. The court was not convinced that the fast was religiously motivated. Prison officials saw it as a hunger strike.

In Sousa v. Wegman2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118421 (ED CA, Aug. 20, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend

Malik v. City of New York2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118358 (SD NY, Aug. 15, 2012), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended allowing an inmate to proceed with claims that correctional officers ripped up and destroyed his Qur’an.

In Nance v. Miser2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119420 (D AZ, Aug. 23, 2012), an Arizona federal district court  permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was denied a Halal diet and a shaving waiver.

In Strange v. Commonwealth of Kentucky2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119599 (WD KY, Aug. 23, 2012), a Kentucky federal district court allowed a pre-trial detainee who says he is Jewish to proceed with his claim that he is not permitted to have a prayer rug, a “yamike”, read the Torah, attend worship, or practice his religion, and that there are no rabbis at the jail.

In Alverson v. Allen2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119149 (MD AL, Aug. 23, 2012), an Alabama federal magistrate judge dismissed claims by an inmate that he was not allowed to attend church while housed in the hot (restricted privileges) dorm.

In Tariq v. Chatman2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118546 (MD GA, Aug. 22, 2012), a Georgia federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118544, July 18, 2012) and permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with his claim that his Noble Qu’ran was confiscated by prison officials who said it is “radical,” “teaches hate,” and has “the wrong kind of stuff in it.” In a separate opinion (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118538, Aug. 22, 2012) the court dismissed certain of the defendants.

In Dabbs v. Vaughn2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119137 (SD IL, Aug. 22, 2012), an Illinois federal district court, while dismissing certain claims and defendants, allowed a former inmate to proceed against others on his 1st Amendment free exercise claim that the prison chaplain took all but 5 Jewish inmates off the kosher diet list and off the monthly call passes for religious visits for buying non-kosher food from the commissary. The chaplain allegedly required Jewish prisoners to document their need for a kosher diet by submitting a two paragraph essay.

In Dyer v. Hardwick2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119693 (ED MI, Aug. 23, 2012), a Michigan federal district court adopted in relevant part a magistrate’s recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119704, Aug. 3, 2012) that had concluded that mere offensive remarks about a Jewish inmate’s religion made by the deputy warden did not amount to a constitutional violation, nor did the deputy warden’s suggestion that plaintiff withdraw her request for kosher meals so she could be transferred to another facility that did not offer them.