Prisoner free exercise cases – July 17, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In In re Ohio Execution Protocol Litigation, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107468 (SD OH, July 12, 2017), an Ohio federal magistrate judge rejected RLUIPA and free exercise challenges to the provision in Ohio’s Execution Protocol that allows the warden to limit a death row inmate’s last words statement if it contains language intentionally offensive to the execution witnesses. Plaintiffs claimed that this might limit them from including a prayer for atonement in their last words because witnesses might find the prayer offensive.

In Crawley v. Parsons, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107775, (WD VA, July 12, 2017), a Virginia federal district court allowed a House of Yahweh inmate to move ahead with his claim against the prison chaplain that he was not allowed to participate in the 2015 Passover observance. His claims against other defendants for this, and his claims regarding observance of the Feast of Tabernacles were dismissed.

In Crutcher v. Bolling, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106778, (ND AL, July 11, 2017), an Alabama federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107832, May 18, 2017), and dismissed without prejudice an inmate’s complaint that conditions of solitary confinement denied him access to church.