Prisoner free exercise cases – June 24, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Powers v. Coleman, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 11667 (7th Cir., June 20, 2014), the 7th Circuit refused to overturn a jury’s verdict that a Messianic Jewish inmate did not have a sincere religious belief that he needed a kosher diet.

In Sharrieff v. Moore, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82460 (MD PA, June 16, 2014), a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a complaint seeking separate religious services and a separate fast during December for Nation of Islam inmates.

In Oliver v. Adams, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80519 (ED CA, June 10, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, a complaint by an inmate who is an adherent of Shetaut Neter who claims he is being denied a prayer rug, a religious diet, worship services, and religious programming on in-house television while he is in the special housing unit.

In Davis v. Abercrombie, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81780 (D HI, June 13, 2014), a Hawaii federal district court in a very long opinion dealt with claims by Native Hawaiian inmates housed at private prisons in Arizona that their free exercise, RLUIPA and equal protection rights are being infringed as to their daily worship practices, the observance of Makahiki, and access to sacred items, sacred space and a spiritual advisor. The court held that there are genuine issues of fact remaining as to various of the claims.

In Adkins v. Shinn, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81953 (D HI, June 16, 2014), a Hawaii federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaints about lack of visits from an Imam an difficulty in obtaining a Qur’an, other books and a kufi. However the court permitted him to proceed on his complaint that a kosher diet was substituted for his halal diet.