Prisoner free exercise cases – December 18, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Kemp v. Liebel, (7th Cir., Dec. 11, 2017), the 7th Circuit upheld qualified immunity for an official who transferred two Jewish inmates to another facility so they could obtain kosher meals, but did not delay the transfer until the new facility offered Jewish group worship and study.

In Reed v. Bryant, (10th Cir., Dec. 13, 2017), the 10th Circuit held that the district court should not have dismissed an inmate’s due process and RLUIPA challenges to a zero tolerance rule that automatically suspends and inmate’s kosher diet if he consumes any non-kosher food.

In Schuh v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25351 (6th Cir., Dec. 14, 2017), the 6th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that he was denied a kosher diet because his insufficient knowledge of Judaism showed a lack of sincerity of belief.

In Priest v. Holbrook, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203386 (ED MI, Dec. 11, 2017), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Native American inmate that his eagle feathers were stolen or destroyed.

In Dexter v. Olson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203923 (WD MI, Dec. 12, 2017), a Michigan federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with claims against two officials for refusing to permit Nation of Islam inmates to attend the Eid al-Fitr celebration.

In King v. Lombardi, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203959 (ED MO, Dec. 12, 2017), a Missouri federal district court held that for purposes of the exhaustion requirement, an inmate’s charge that he was unable to attend religious services was not a separate claim, but part of his due process claim challenging his lengthy assignment to administrative segregation.

In Christian Separatist Church Society of Ohio v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205480 (SD OH, Dec. 14, 2017), an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended that inmates who are members of the Christian Separatist Church be allowed to move ahead with their claim for declaratory and injunctive relief in their suit challenging prison policy that denies them separate congregate worship and requires they worship with the recognized Protestant Christian organization.

In Cooper v. True, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203780 (D MN, Dec.12, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court accepted a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205900, Nov. 2, 2017) and dismissed a Jewish inmate’s damage claim against a warden who kept him at a facility that lacked access to a rabbi, a Torah, and minyan.

In Greenhill v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206384 (WD VA, Dec. 15, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint regarding ritual contamination of his food tray.  It allowed him to proceed with RLUIPA, but not 1st Amendment, claims regarding beard length and group Jum’ah services.

In Miller v. Clarke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206382 (WD VA, Dec. 15, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his damage claim growing out of his suspension from the Common Fare diet and denial of his participation in Ramadan.