Prisoner free exercise cases – July 24, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Barnes v. Annucci, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110564 (ND NY, July 14, 2017), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended that a Nation of Islam inmate be allowed to move ahead with his complaint that during a cell search, authorities confiscated and discarded three of his kufis.

In Oppenheimer v State of New York, 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5709 (NY App, July 20, 2017), a New York state appeals court held that a Muslim inmate’s free exercise claim growing out of a pat frisk by a female corrections officer cannot be asserted in the state Court of Claims.

In Potts v. Holt, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113250 (MD PA, July 19, 2017), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing a suit by an inmate complaining about a 4-day interruption of religious meals while prison officials were dealing with a food poisoning outbreak.

In Alster v. Fischer, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113348 (W NY, July 20, 2017), a New York federal district court dismissed some claims by a Jewish inmate for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and on other grounds, but permitted him to move ahead with claims of denial of communal celebrations for Sabbaths and holy days; his exclusion from Jewish group events; and lack of Jewish worship space.

In Kindred v. Bell, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114195 (ED CA, July 20, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended denying a preliminary injunction to a Native American civil detainee who complained about failure to deliver to him a package containing religious items and about confiscation of a bolo tie.