Prisoner free exercise cases – May 11, 2014

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In DePaola v. Virginia Department of Corrections, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61165 (WD VA, May 2, 2014), a Virginia federal district court dismissed a claim by a Nation of Islam inmate that subjecting him to a TB screening test violates his RLUIPA rights, and remanded to a magistrate plaintiff’s claim that he was denied a diet that complies with his religious beliefs.

In Brames v. Hodge, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61591 (SD IL, May 5, 2014), an Illinois federal district court allowed a Hebrew Israelite inmate to proceed with his complaint that the prison chaplain refused to allow him to attend Jewish services and celebrations and be placed on a kosher diet, that the prison physician refused to certify him for a no-bean kosher diet, and that various defendants ignored his grievances on these matters.

In Davis v. Doe, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63437 (MD NC, May 8, 2014), a North Carolina federal magistrate judge recommended dismissal of an inmate’s claim that his free exercise rights were infringed by a policy, of which he had not been informed, that prohibited him from using the rest room during a religious service.

In Ajala v. West, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63544 (WD WI, May 8, 2014), a Wisconsin federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with complaints that he was denied a halal diet, but dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies a claim that he was required to sign a statement that a vegan/vegetarian diet satisfied his religious needs.

In Watkins v. Fox, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64294 (ND FL, May 9, 2014), a Florida federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations and dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies an inmate’s complaint that he was denied the use of prayer oils. The court also dismissed a prison chaplain as a defendant.