Prisoner free exercise cases – installment #2 for the week – March 2, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jack-Bey v. Tribley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23161 (WD MI, Feb. 26, 2015), a Michigan federal district court refused to dismiss a claim by an inmate who was a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America that the 1st Amendment protects his right to study religious materials in the prison library.

In Allen v. Virga, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23585 (ED CA, Feb. 25, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate who is a follower of Yahweh (HOYY) be permitted to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a kosher diet.

In Hoye v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23775 (WD VA, Feb. 27, 2015) a Virginia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing claims of an inmate described as a “practicing Traditional and Messianic Jew” who objected to policies that precluded those on the Common Fare meal plan for religious diets from getting extra food on special meal days, and objected to the lack of a Common Fare diabetic option.  Plaintiff claimed these policies violated the free exercise, due process and equal protection clauses.

In Grayson v. Goetting, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23984 (SD IL, Feb. 27, 2015), an Illinois federal district court allowed an African Hebrew-Israelite inmate to proceed with his free exercise, RLUIPA and equal protection challenges to the requirement that he remove his dreadlocks (which requires cutting his hair) to periodically have his identification photo taken.

In Miles v. Guice, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24014 (ED NC, Feb. 26, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court refused to dismiss a challenge by an inmate to prison officials’ refusal to recognize Nations of Gods and Earths as a religion and their classification of it as a security threat group. The court allowed plaintiff to move ahead with his claim that restrictions on his ability to practice various aspects of NGE violates his free exercise, RLUIPA and 8th Amendment rights.

In Adams v. Woodall, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24046 (MD TN, Feb. 26, 2015), a Tennessee federal magistrate judge recommended denial of a preliminary injunction in a suit by a Muslim inmate who sought to order religious items and Halal meals from an outside vendor other than the prison’s approved vendor.

In Brown v. Adams, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24170 (ED WA, Feb. 27, 2015), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24169, Feb. 3, 2015) and dismissed a complaint by an Orthodox Jewish inmate that he was not allowed to have his religious texts while he was housed in a 4-man cell. He subsequently received his texts and the policy was revised.

In Douglas v. Clarke, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24184 (ED VA, Feb. 27, 2015), a Virginia federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he is not allowed to possess prayer oil while in segregation.

In Oliver v. Harrison, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24317 (ED NC, Feb. 26, 2015), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed complaints by an inmate who had most recently described himself as of the Orthodox Jewish faith that before he was transferred to a different facility he did not receive a kosher diet.