Prisoner free exercise cases – January 23, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Ali v. West, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6197 (ED WI, Jan. 17, 2017), a Wisconsin federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to proceed against the prison chaplain, program director and warden on his claim that his request to be placed on the Ramadan participation list was initally ignored and then denied.

In Kemp v. Liebel, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8021 (SD IN, Jan. 20, 2017), an Indiana federal district court dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a suit by Jewish inmates against the Director of religious services alleging that their free exercise rights were infringed when for 9 months they were denied congregate religious services and study because no outside religious authority had been found to evaluate and certify inmates who could lead them.

In Luginbyhl v. Glanz, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8101 (ND OK, Jan. 20, 2017), an Oklahoma federal district court dismissed a complaint by a Hebrew Israelite inmate that he was denied a kosher diet and a seder plate and unleavened bread meals for Passover. Plaintiff had received a vegan religious diet.

In Fields v. Robinson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7946 (ED VA, Jan. 19, 2017), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint over the conditions imposed for receiving the Common Fare diet. He could not miss over 25% of his meals and could not give his food away to other inmates.

In Timmons v. Bradshaw, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8219 (SD FL, Jan. 19, 2017), a Florida federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that he was denied a kosher diet. He alleged that authorities applied a doctrinal knowledge test and required verification of his religion from a rabbi.