Prisoner free exercise cases – March 9, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wiseman v. Cate, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26373 (ED CA, Feb. 27, 2014), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that Muslim inmates in the Halal food plan are provided Halal meat at dinner but are only provided vegetarian meals at breakfast and lunch.

In Rowe v. Indiana Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27060 (SD IN, March 3, 2014), an Indiana federal district court denied cross motions for summary judgment and permitted an inmate to continue to pursue his free exercise and RLUIPA challenges to prison policies that call for the zero tolerance on security threat groups, prohibit visits from ex-prisoners, limit the number of books that can be possessed, limit certain inmate-to-inmate correspondence, bar item censorship of religious publications, and ban the swastika.

In Esposito v. Quatinez, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28452 (ED NY, March 5, 2014), a New York federal district court permitted plaintiff who was involuntarily committed to the psychiatric unit of Stony Brook University Hospital to continue to pursue her claim that requiring her to remain hospitalized violates her free exercise rights because her religious beliefs require that she not affiliate herself through receipt of treatment with a hospital that performs abortions.

In Baumgarten v. Howard County Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28590 (D MD, March 6, 2014), a Maryland federal district court permitted a Jewish inmate to proceed with his complaint that he was repeatedly denied kosher meals for which he had been approved. Plaintiff is seeking damages.

In Mitchell v. Cicchi, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28738 (D NJ, March 6, 2014), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed, without prejudice, a Muslim inmate’s complaint that he was barred from participating in the jail’s Eid festival because of his maximum security status.