Prisoner free exercise cases – June 21, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Robinson v. Jackson, (6th Cir., June 15, 2015), the 6th Circuit held that vegetarian meals satisfied an inmate’s need for a Halal diet.

In Mauwee v. Palmer, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77830 (D NV, June 16, 2015), a Nevada federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77833, May 26, 2015) and dismissed a complaint by a Native American inmate that his eagle talon– a sacred object– was confiscated and destroyed before he completed the grievance process.

In Cohee v. Coupe, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77940 (D DE, June 16, 2015, a Delaware federal district court permitted plaintiff, who is a Thelemite, to proceed with his complaint that when he was transferred to the hole he was denied access to his religious book and was advised that he could only have a Bible or the Qur’an. He did not have a constitutional claim regarding theft of several of his religious books.

In Rogers v. Molina, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78010 (ND CA, June 15, 2015), a California federal magistrate judge held that a nursing home resident can proceed with his complaint that while in the emergency room, sheriff’s deputies instead of providing him a wheelchair, a threw him to the ground and, among other things, seized blessing oil that he uses to practice his religion.

In O’Neal v. Amah, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78716 (ED CA, June 16, 2015, a California federal magistrate judge allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that when he was moved to a new facility he was denied a religious diet for over 60 days. He was given leave to amend his complaint to more clearly allege facts regarding denial of access to weekly church services much of the time.

In Nance v. Miser, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79136 (D AZ, June 16, 2015), an Arizona federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that a Halal diet with meat was unavailable, but permitted him to move ahead with his 1st Amendment damage claim for denial of a shaving waiver for 7 months.