Prisoner free exercise cases – August 8, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smith v. Perlman, (2d Cir., Aug. 3, 2016), the 2nd Circuit vacated and remanded a suit by a Muslim inmate challenging the policy that allows only one family event day (except for Native Americans).

In Putnam v. Brown, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100731 (D OR, Aug. 1, 2016), an Oregon federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that worship services were interrupted to turn on light and require a reduction in music volume, and his complaint that he was not permitted to attend worship services at times that conflicted with his work schedule.

In Shabazz v. Schofield, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100928 (WD TN, Aug. 2, 2016), a Tennessee federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead on his complaint that he was refused a protein supplement when pork was served and was not allowed to eat within the proper time during Ramadan.

In Fisher v. Schweitzer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101831 (SD OH, July 6, 2016), an Ohio federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that the warden prevented him from attending church services.

In Fox v. Lee, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103098 (ND NY, Aug. 5, 2016), a New York federal district court ordered the parties to move ahead with discovery on the claim by an inmate that he is a member of the ancient African Anunake religion and is being required to cut his hair which his religion calls for him to wear in a Mohawk style with Dreadlocks.

In Walker v. Koon, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103225 (D SC, Aug. 5, 2016), a South Carolina federal district court agreed with a magistrate’s recommendation and dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that he was denied a vegan or vegetarian diet on the basis of his inadequately completing a questionnaire on his religious need for it, and his complaint that a religion was needed to obtain such a diet.

In Sangraal v. Flagg, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103417 (SD IL, Aug. 5, 2016), an Illinois federal district court allowed a former inmate who is a Pagan to move ahead with his complaint that he was not permitted to attend group worship while in segregation and was deliberately transferred to an institution that did not have Pagan religious services. In a second decision involving the same plaintiff, Sangraal v. Keim, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103447 (SD IL, Aug. 5, 2016), the court allowed plaintiff to move ahead with a damage claim against the prison chaplain for denying him a kosher diet.