Prisoner free exercise cases – December 28, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Smith v. Artus, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170473 (ND NY, Dec. 22, 2015), a New York federal district court refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate’s claim for injunctive and declaratory relief against the prison’s ban on engaging in demonstrative prayer in the prison yard during recreation period.

In Chesser v. Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170661 (D CO, Dec. 22, 2015), a Colorado federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claims that the prison policy of housing Muslims with ties to terrorism in long term solitary confinement solely because of these ties violates RFRA and that his conditions of confinement violate RFRA.

In Williams v. Valazair, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171559 (WD OK, Dec. 22, 2015), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171325, Nov. 9, 2015) and dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was denied a common fare meal tray during a 4-day time span, apparently because the list had not been updated to include him.