Prisoner free exercise cases – January 06, 2013

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Avery v. Elia2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182789 (ED CA, Dec. 27, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that his kosher diet card was wrongly revoked.

In Robertson v. Biby2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75 (D KS, Jan. 2, 2013), a Kansas federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim that his religious belief that he must hear the Bible read aloud by another person at least every seven years was infringed when his assignment to segregated housing unit kept him from attending congregate services and he was unable to obtain audio equipment as an alternative. The court held that RLUIPA did not support his claim for damages, and his claim for injunctive relief was moot.

In Hernandez v. Pugh2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 445 (ND OH, Jan. 2, 2013), an Ohio federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that when he was observing a Jewish fast, prison officials would not allow him to both get meals during the day to take back to his cell for later and also get an extra meal after sundown,

In Harmon v. Jones2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 794 (WD OK, Jan. 3, 2013), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183461, Nov. 15, 2012) and held that prison officials had not violated the terms of an injunction previously issued by the court when they   temporarily suspended an inmate from the kosher diet program because he had purchased a jar of strawberry jam, not on the kosher food list, from the prison canteen.

In Cryer v. Clarke2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183568 (D MA, Sept. 7, 2012), a Massachusetts federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing plaintiff’s complaint that he was denied a daily smudging ceremony, access to Native American ceremonial items, a separate indoor room for Native American worship, access to a sweat lodge for Native American ceremonies, ceremonial tobacco, and a contracted Native American spiritual adviser.