Prisoner free exercise cases – July 9, 2018

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Williams v. Bedison, (5th Cir., July 3, 2018), the 5th Circuit affirmed a Texas federal district court’s dismissal of a suit by an inmate who is a member of Moorish Science Temple of America who complained that he was not provided with primary services to practice his faith.

In Evans v. Brown, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110441 (ND CA, July 2, 2018), a California federal district court held that a Muslim inmate’s exclusion from the Ramadan meal program did not qualify for the “imminent danger” exception to the statutory “three strikes rule” that precludes inmates who have brought 3 or more frivolous actions from proceeding in forma pauperis.

In Gaston v. Marean, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110448 (ED CA, June 29, 2018), a California federal magistrate judge, in a recommended finding, concluded that the cutting off of 4 dreadlocks of a Rastafarian inmate during his treatment for a head laceration did not amount to a substantial burden on his free exercise rights.

In Wade v. California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111268 (ND CA, July 3, 2018), a California federal district court dismissed a Nation of Islam inmate’s complaint that NOI videos were not shown to the entire prison and that no NOI chaplain was provided.

In Vidro v. Erfe, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111750 (D CT, July 5, 2018), a Connecticut federal district court allowed a Native American inmate to move ahead with his 1st Amendment free exercise claim that he was denied adequate winter clothing to wear during his smudging rituals.