Prisoner free exercise cases – December 26, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Amaker v. Bradt, (2d Cir., Dec. 19, 2018), the 2nd Circuit affirmed the dismissal for lack of exhaustion of administrative remedies of an inmate’s claim regarding access to religious meals and retaliation.

In Vincent v. Stewart, (9th Cir., Dec. 21, 2018), the 9th Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of free exercise and RLUIPA claims regarding a religious diet.

In Hancock v. Cirbo, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212319 (D CO, Dec. 14, 2018), a Colorado federal magistrate judge recommended allowing a Jewish inmate to move ahead on his claim of denial of kosher meals, but recommended dismissing his complaint regarding the past requirement that he shave his beard.

In Brown v. Solomon, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212824 (WD NC, Dec. 18, 2018, a North Carolina federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with claims that prison authorities should not classify Jehovah’s Witness as a Christian- Protestant sect, and should provide separate group worship services for Jehovah’s Witness inmates.

In Ables v. Hall, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214749 (ND MS, Dec. 21, 2018), a Mississippi federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s claim of free exercise violations when he was required to withdraw from seminary school for excessive tardiness stemming from no regular schedule for administration of insulin shots.

In Pattison v. State Department of Corrections, 2018 Nev. App. Unpub. LEXIS 962 (NV App,, Dec. 17, 2018), a Nevada appellate court affirmed the trial court’s award of only $1 in nominal damages for denial of kosher meals to an inmate. A concurring opinion disagreed with the majority on the need for physical injury to recover damages for a 1st Amendment violation.