Prisoner free exercise cases – July 25, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Turner v. Sidorowicz, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93339 (SD NY, July 18, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was removed from the kosher diet meal plan after he allegedly took food from the regular meal line.

In Powell v. City of New York, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94186 (SD NY, July 14, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissal of an inmate’s complaint that Muslims in his housing unit were not called for Friday Jummah services for two consecutive weeks.

In Turner v. Schofield, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94304 (WD TN, July 20, 2016), a Tennessee federal district court, while dismissing a number of claims, allowed a Nation of Islam inmate to move ahead with his complaint that pork meals are being served in the non-pork food line, that he is allergic to the food being served as  a pork replacement, and he has been refused passes for religious services when hi uses his Nation of Islam name to sign up.

In Burrell v. Loungo, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94561 (MD PA, July 18, 2016), a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, numerous claims by an inmate including his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed when his request for a furlough to attend an outside church service was denied.

In McCann v. Moreno, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 7715 (TX App., July 21, 2016), a Texas state appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a claim by a Jewish-Druid inmate that insistence he receive an insulin dose at 3:00 am violates his free exercise rights because his religion requires that he not eat or rise before sunrise.

In Henderson v. Muniz, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94828 (ND CA, July 20, 2016), a California federal district court allowed a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his complaints regarding denial of daily and Friday prayers, denial of a qualified Muslim chaplain, necessary congregational artifacts, ability to celebrate Iftar and, as to one defendant, failure to provide hot Ramadan meals prepared and served by Muslim inmates.

In Etterson v. Newcome, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94927 (ED VA, July 19, 2016), a Virginia federal district court refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate’s complaint that  he was wrongly removed him from the list to receive Ramadan trays when he was seen eating and drinking after sundown but before the Ramadan trays had been served.

In Celestin v. Rock, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95450 (ND NY, July 20, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing on qualified immunity grounds a Jewish inmate’s complaint about not receiving Seder meals in special housing unit. The court stated: “although plaintiff may have had a well-established right to have the Seder meal brought to his cell, based on his individual belief that he could celebrate the Seder by himself, it was objectively reasonable for all the defendants to believe that they were not violating plaintiff’s rights….”

In Flowers v. Mullet, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95009 (WD OK, July 21, 2016), an Oklahoma federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95473, June 27, 2016) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a Bible was taken from his cell.