Prisoner free exercise cases – November 13, 2017

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Garner v. Muenchow, (7th Cir., Nov. 8, 2017), the 7th Circuit reversed a Wisconsin federal district court grant of summary judgment for defendants in a suit in which a Muslim inmate alleged free exercise and equal protection violations growing out of efforts to prevent him from obtaining a copy of the Qur’an while in segregation.

In Cavin v. Heyns, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22582 (6th Cir., Sept. 12, 2017), the 6th Circuit affirmed a finding of qualified immunity in a suit by an inmate challenging a blanket ban on attendance at religious services for prisoners on toplock status.

In Broyles v. Presley, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182968 (D KA, Nov. 3, 2017), a Kansas federal district court held that plaintiff had stated a free exercise claim regarding his inability to receive a kosher diet.  The court ordered relevant jail officials to investigate the facts, determine what action should be taken and file this as a report along with defendants’ answer.

In Sears v. Thomas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186498 (SD FL, Nov. 8, 2017), a Florida federal district court rejected part of a magistrate’s recommendation (2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137998, Aug. 25, 2017) and held that an inmate can proceed with his claim for nominal damages against a correctional officer who insisted that a chain and crucifix discovered in plaintiff’s cell must be returned to the vendor who sent it.