Prisoner free exercise cases – March 7, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Young v. Muhammad, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24711 (CD CA, Feb. 24, 2016), a California federal district court accepted most of a magistrate’s recommendations (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176470, Dec. 22, 2015) and dismissed claims by an inmate who was removed from the Ramadan list and Muslim services for a period of time after he argued over religious theology with other inmates.

In Dawson v. Beard, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24806 (ED CA, Feb. 26, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed an inmate’s complaint that he was denied access to religious services on numerous occasions, and denied the right to fast.

In Brandon v. Schroyer, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25003 (ND NY, Feb. 26, 2016), a New York federal magistrate judge rejected claims by a Muslim inmate that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was served meals containing pork ten times during a year, and found he had failed to exhaust administrative remedies as to denial of participation in Ramadan and access to congregate religious services.

In Hamilton v. Countant, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25329 (SD NY, March 1, 2016), a New York federal district court dismissed a Rastafarian inmate’s complaint that authorities seized religious items from the prison chapel, made alterations to the calendar on which the prison listed recognized religious holidays, and refused to provide the cornbread and grape juice required for him to take communion during the Rastafarian Fasika holiday.

In Jarrett v. Snyder, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25277 (WD MI, Feb. 29, 2016), a Michigan federal district court permitted a Buddhist inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was wrongfully removed from the vegetarian meal plan. The magistrate’s opinion in the case is at 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25844, Jan. 11, 2016.

In Hoeck v. Miklich, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25940 (D CO, March 1, 2016), a Colorado federal district court accepted a magistrate’s recommendation (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176572, Oct. 26, 2015) and dismissed an inmate’s claims that requiring him to change linens and move cells on the Sabbath, denying him an appropriate place to worship, and failing to classify Biblical Christianity as an independent religion violated RLUIPA. Plaintiff was however allowed to proceed on his First Amendment and state law challenges to these practices and his RLUIPA challenge to the grooming policy.

In Shaw v. Upton, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26575 (SD GA, March 2, 2016), a Georgia federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s claim that he was deliberately transferred to another facility to deny him access to a religious vegan diet.

In Tyler v. Lassiter, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27161 (ED NC, March 3, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court held that a Jewish inmate’s religious exercise was not substantially burdened when for disciplinary reasons he was placed on a vegetarian nutraloaf diet for one week instead of receiving his kosher meals.

In Johnson v. Lewis, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27169 (WD NC, March 3, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court rejected a Hebrew Israelite inmate’s complaints about the kosher diet he was receiving.

In Stiles v. Cook, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27281 (WD NC, March 3, 2016), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a suit by a Native American inmate complaining that his “Indian prayer” materials were confiscated.