Prisoner free exercise cases – July 10, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Simmons v. Atkins, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103707 (ED CA, July 5, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend a complaint by a Native American inmate that he is denied weekly attendance at the sweat lodge, a properly trained medicine man or spiritual adviser, and material to make religious tools and artifacts.

In Saif’ullah v. Albritton, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102438 (ND CA, June 30, 2017), a California federal court dismissed claims of ten of the 11 plaintiffs for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The remaining plaintiff was permitted to move ahead on his complaint that Muslim inmates are only allowed to pray in groups of more than 5 in the open day room once per day, while similar restrictions are not applied to Christian and Jewish inmates.

In Monson v. Steward, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104036 (D OR, July 6, 2017), an Oregon federal magistrate judge dismissed a suit by a Rastafarian inmate who complained that he was (until filing the lawsuit) denied a kosher diet.

In Hosannah v. Nassau County Criminal Supreme Court Sergeant Officer(s), 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104652 (ED NY, July 5, 2017), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that an inmate be allowed to file an amended complaint against proper defendants asserting his claim that he is not allowed to attend Jewish religious services because of his escape risk status.