Prisoner free exercise cases – August 9, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Trueblood, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100636 (WD AR, July 31, 2015), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30546, Feb. 9, 2015) and dismissed the complaint of an inmate whose faith was black magic Voodoo that when Christian preachers from the community periodically visited the jail, they would conduct worship services and play recordings of Christian music in the prisoner pod, and his complaint that the chaplain refused to put books about death on the book cart.

In Hulbert v. Robinson, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100700 (WD VA, July 31, 2015), a Virginia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a Wiccan inmate’s complaint that the prison’s single-vendor policy and ban on direct in-kind donations denied him access to items he needed for Wiccan rituals.

In Evans v. Muniz, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101207 (ND CA, July 31, 2015), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not provided with Halal food for a period of 16 months.

In Abdullah v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101191 and in Alim v. Cruzen, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101205 (ND CA, July 31, 2015), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claim that correctional officers had created an “underground rule” prohibiting SQSP Muslim prisoners from congregating in groups of more than four for daily prayers, and retaliated against him for filing a complaint about it.

In Al-Azim v. Everett, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101292 (ED VA, Aug. 3, 2015), a Virginia federal district court permitted various of the inmate plaintiffs to move ahead with complaints regarding refusal to provide a diet consistent with Nation of Islam teachings, refusing sufficient time of NOI prayer and classes and refusal to allow plaintiffs to purchase CDs of weekly sermons by Louis Farrakhan.

In Lilly v. Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 8142 (TX App., Aug. 4, 2015), a Texas state appeals court in a 2-1 decision affirmed the dismissal on statute of limitations grounds of a suit by an inmate who is a member of the House of Yahweh who was refused kosher meals.

In Quinn v. Management & Training Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101924 (SD MS, Aug. 4, 2015) a Mississippi federal district court reinstated an inmate’s complaint that officers would not allow him to claim Voodoo as his religion on prison paperwork.

In Larios v. United States Gov’t & His Religion, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103205 (ED NY, Aug. 5, 2015), a New York federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that  that his placement among the general prison population violated his rights under RFRA.