Prisoner free exercise cases – November 11, 2012

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Krieger v. Brown, (4th Cir., Nov. 8, 2012), the 4th Circuit held that an inmate had not shown that his practice of Asatru was substantially burdened by the denial of an outdoor worship circle and various requested sacred items. 

In Armstrong v. Etchebehere, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158485 (ED CA, Nov. 5, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed, with leave to amend, an inmate’s claims that staff and the Catholic Chaplain blocked previously approved Islamic programs such as Jumm’ah prayer and religious objects such as a prayer rug, Thikr beads and prayer oils, and deprived him of the Eid celebration was in retaliation for his filing grievances. 

In Terrell v. Hendricks, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159080 (D NJ, Oct. 25, 2912), a New Jersey federal district court dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s claim that he was denied the right to practice his Muslim religion while in punitive segregation. 

In Booker v. Tokarz, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159837 (SD NY, Nov. 7, 2012), a New York federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to move ahead with his claims that conditions in the special housing unit substantially burdened his practicing his religion. He could not attend Jum’ah services or make Fithra (the removal of body hair). 

In Dickerson v. Gusman, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159611 (ED LA, Nov. 6, 2012), a Louisiana federal district court approved a magistrate’s recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159609, Oct. 2, 2012)  and permitted an inmate to proceed with his complaint that he is being denied the ability to participate in congregational prayer with other Muslims. 

In Spivey v. Taylor, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158760 (SD IL, Nov. 6, 2012) an Illinois federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendation (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159741, Oct. 19, 2012) and dismissed an inmate’s complaint that a correctional officer refused to provide him with his Jewish Bible for two days. 

In Njos v. Carney, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160564 (MD PA, Nov. 8, 2012), a Pennsylvania federal district court adopted a magistrate’s recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161168, Sept. 12, 2012) and permitted an inmate to proceed against 3 prison chaplains on claims that they refused to furnish him kosher meals as well as juice and matzohs each week for the Sabbath. The chaplains asserted that plaintiff’s beliefs were not sincere. Plaintiff’s believed that non-kosher foods could be blessed by him to meet kosher standards. Various other claims were dismissed.