Prisoner free exercise cases – July 13, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Holland v. Goord, (2d Cir., July 10, 2014), the 2nd Circuit, reversing in part a district court’s decision, held that ordering a Muslim inmate to drink water in violation of his Ramadan fast in order to provide a urine sample substantially burdened his free exercise rights.

In McCormack v. Reinke, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91356 (D ID, July 2, 2014), an Idaho federal district court dismissed for failure to prosecute a Native American inmate’s complaint regarding tearing down of the prison’s sweat lodge and alleged retaliation for complaining that failure to provide wood for the sweat lodge violated a previous settlement agreement.

In Villapando v. CDCR, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91965 (ED CA, July 3, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that a change in allowable religious property omitted certain items necessary for Native American religious practices.

In Hines v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92474 (SD IL, July 8, 2014), an Illinois federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with various 1st Amendment, RLUIPA and 8th Amendment claims alleging that the vegetarian diet provided to him did not meet Halal requirements, and that he was retaliated against for complaining about non-halal turkey chili served to him.

In Mauwee v. Cox, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93241 (D NV, July 9, 2014), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93239, June 17, 2014) and dismissed a Native American inmate’s complaint that a corrections officer desecrated his religious group’s ceremonial deer antlers. Defendant mistakenly ordered the antlers to be blunted to 8 inches instead of the allowable 18 inches.

In Salas v. Gomez, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93536 (ND CA, July 9, 2014), a California federal district court permitted a Jewish inmate to proceed with his complaint that his food has been inedible and does not meet kosher standards, and that he is being denied access to Jewish scriptures.

In Baumgarten v. Maryland Division of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93601 (D MD, July 10, 2014), a Maryland federal district court dismissed both for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and on the merits a claim by a Jewish inmate that he was denied kosher meals, and a corrections officer ripped the cover off his religious book.

In Irvin v. James, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94064 (ED CA, July 9, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge recommended permitting a Muslim inmate to proceed on his complaint that after the former chaplain left officials denied chapel access, special food for festivals, and receipt of religious packages, and delayed hiring a new Muslim chaplain.