Prisoner free exercise cases – June 28, 2015

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Jones v. Williams, (9th Cir., June 25, 2015), the 9th Circuit held that prison authorities are not entitled to qualified immunity on a Muslim inmate’s cliam that he was ordered to cook pork loins as part of his job duties.  The court however dismissed claims that cooks added pork to a tamale pie, and that the grill cleaning method left residual pork grease on the grill.

In Speed v. Neal, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81606 (ED MO, June 24, 2015), a Missouri federal district court dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that on one occasion he did not receive a non-pork tray. It also dismissed his claim for damages of $30 million because of failure to receive pre-dawn meals, a copy of the Qur’an, a place to congregate for prayer and a clock to tell the correct time for prayer.

In Koenig v. Maryland, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81696 (D MD, June 23, 2015), a Maryland federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s claims that the kosher diet menu was made unattractive to discourage inmates from signing up for it, and that study sessions occur infrequently and religious texts are not available.

In Linares v. Department of Homeland Security, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83379 (ND AL, May 28, 2015), an Alabama federal magistrate judge recommended that a Jewish Immigrations and Customs civil detainee be permitted to proceed with his claim that his free exercise rights were infringed by denial of kosher meals, Sabbath services and access to a rabbi, but recommended dismissal of his class action claims and claims for injunctive relief.  The federal district court (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82492, June 25, 2015) held that while the magistrate’s recommendation was well taken, the suit should be dismissed without prejudice because plaintiff culd no longer be located.