Prisoner free exercise cases – January 16, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Aguilar v. Lemke, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2526 (ND IL, Jan. 5, 2017), an Illinois federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his claim that his placement in segregation in violation of his due process rights resulted in restrictions on his ability to practice his Roman Catholic religion.

In Garrett v. Stephens, (5th Cir., Jan 12, 2017), the 5th Circuit upheld dismissal of an inmate’s claim that confiscation of his property forced him to modify his daily religious practices.

In Sareini v. Burnett, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3083 (ED MI, Jan. 10, 2017), a Michigan federal district court held that the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Holt v. Hobbs is not a basis for reopening a court’s 2011 dismissal of an inmate’s religious items and holiday claims.

In Santos v. Holland, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3682 (ED CA, Jan. 10, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge, ruling on an inmate’s habeas corpus petition, recommended concluding that a state court was reasonable when it held that an inmate’s free exercise rights were not violated by using his religious necklace with the Eternal Warrior Shield as evidence of affiliation with the Mexican Mafia.

In Skandha v. Spencer, 2017 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 45 (MA App., Jan. 12, 2017), a Massachusetts state appeals court rejected an inmate’s claim that his religious rights were violated by the requirement that he sign a diet sheet in advance of receiving a vegan meal.

In Faulker v. Phillips, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181805 (SD CA, Dec. 2, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate’s complaint that he was denied a kosher diet be dismissed on various grounds, with one narrow exception.

In Blair v. Thompson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5164 (WD KY, Jan. 13, 2017), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an inmate’s claim of a conspiracy to interfere with the practice of his religion by stealing, moving, and destroying his religious materials.

In Venkataram v. Bureau of Prisons, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5418 (SD FL, Jan. 12, 2017), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended that a Hindu inmate be permitted to proceed with his claim seeking declaratory relief that his 1st Amendment and RLUIPA rights were infringed by the failure to provide him a vegetarian diet prepared and served in accordance with his religious beliefs.

In Gonzalez v. Rivera, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4612 (ED AR, Jan. 12, 2017), an Arkansas federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181873, Dec. 16, 2016) and permitted an inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was not given meatless meals on Good Friday and that Catholic Easter services were not available even though they were proved to Protestant prisoners.

In Stein v. Mohr, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181896 (SD OH, Dec. 13, 2016), an Ohio federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181898, Dec. 6, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was not placed on the list to attend the Asatru religious feast of Yule, that he was not allowed to make a copy of a religious poster, and that the chapel library had only 3 Asatru religious books and they were subsequently stolen.