Prisoner free exercise cases – May 29, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Debarr v. Clark, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76941 (D NV, May 19, 2017), a Nevada federal magistrate judge recommended that a Pagan inmatebe allowed o move ahead with his complaint that he was denied access to any outdoor area for the practice of his faith and that while in disciplinary segregation he could not participate in any Solstice holiday ceremonies.

In Davis v. Abercrombie, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77609 (D HI, May 22, 2017), an Hawaii federal district court gave final approval to the settlement in a class action by Native Hawaiian inmates who complained that they were denied access to religious items and to a spiritual advisor and group religious activities.

In Todd v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79852 (ED CA, May 23, 2017), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing on qualified immunity grounds religious exercise complaints by inmates who were members of the “Ecclesia Creatoris” religious organization which promotes the Creativity religion.  It was reasonable for officials to conclude that Creativity is not a “religion” for 1st Amendment purposes.

In Merrick v. Penzone, 2017 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 625 (AZ App., May 23, 2017), the Arizona Court of appeals affirmed dismissal of a suit by an inmate who is a member of the Fundamental American Christian Temple who was denied unmonitored, unrecorded telephone calls with his brother who was a church elder.