Prisoner free exercise cases – December 21, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Muhudin v. Wegener, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166954 (D CO, Dec. 14, 2015), a Muslim inmate alleged that he was denied a halal diet.  A federal magistrate judge ordered plaintiff to file an amended complaint within 30 days that corrects a number of pleading defects.

In Boyce v. McKnight, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167197 (ND IL, Dec. 15, 2015), an Illinois federal district court permitted an inmate to proceed against one a correctional officer who the inmate claimed pepper sprayed him in retaliation for the inmate’s exercise of religion.

In In re Jaynes, 88 Mass. App. Ct. 745 (MA App., Dec. 16, 2015), the Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld a probate court’s denial of a Wiccan inmate’s petition to change his name for religious reasons, in light of the inmate’s history of using multiple aliases. Boston Herald reports on the decision.

In Bennett v. Turner, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167874 (ND IA, Dec. 16, 2015), an Iowa federal district court gave an inmate 30 days to file an amended complaint alleging that removing all churches from the list of numbers he could call substantially burdened his free exercise of religion.

In Torres v. Aramark Food & Commissary Services, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168188 (SD NY, Dec. 16, 2015), a New York federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaint under the free exercise clause that the nutritional inadequacy of the Ramadan meals, combined with the inability to supplement the meals with food from the commissary, forced him to switch from the Ramadan diet.

In Johnson v. Poupore, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168837 (ND N Y, Dec. 16, 2015), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing an inmate’s complaint that authorities confiscated his gold cross and chain and would not allow him to designate his religion as both Nation of Islam and Catholic under rules that allow only one designated religion at a time. He attempted to add the Catholic designation in order to be allowed to recover his gold cross.

In Boykins v. Lanigan, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169293 (D NJ, Dec. 16, 2015), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not permitted to obtain prayer oil from a third-party vendor instead of the prison chaplain.

In Moore v. Katavich, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169634 (ED CA, Dec. 18, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a Muslim inmate’s complaint that on three separate days the prison kitchen staff served him a vegetarian diet instead of his Halal diet.

In Fox v. Magana, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167571 (ED NC, Dec. 14, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court permitted a female inmate to move ahead with her complaint that she is not given adequate time to practice her religion and is not permitted to conduct worship services outside while other fiaths are permitted to do so.