Prisoner free exercise cases – November 14, 2016

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Omaro v. O’Connell, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153846 (WD NY, Nov. 4, 2016), a New York federal district court granted summary judgment to a Muslim inmate, finding that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was wrongly removed from the Ramadan call out meal schedule. The court referred the case to a magistrate judge for a settlement conference on damages.  The court dismissed plaintiff’s equal protection challenge.

In Holmes v. Engleson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155201 (ND IL, Nov. 9, 2016), an Illinois federal district court refused to dismiss an inmate’s complaint that his dreadlocks and beard that he wore for religious reasons were shaved against his will.

In Simmons v. Hulette, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155721 (ND CA, Nov. 9, 2016), a California federal magistrate judge dismissed with leave to amend an inmate’s complaint that he has been denied a traditional Lakota Inipi Purification Ceremony, access to a drum circle and talking circle, medicine and materials for ceremonies and a competent spiritual adviser.

In Cooper v. Bower, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155988 (WD KY, Nov. 9, 2016), a Kentucky federal district court allowed an inmate to move ahead with his complaint that he was not allowed to receive a copy of the Qur’an that had been purchased for him by a relative instead of from funds in his inmate account.

In Yaacov v. Mohr, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156199 (ND OH, Nov. 10, 2016), an Ohio federal district court dismissed a Jewish inmate’s complaint that he is unable to obtain kosher vegan meals.

In Parkerson v. Ferns, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156210 (D OR, Nov. 10, 2016), an Oregon federal district court dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and inmate’s complaint that he was suspended from receiving kosher meals because he ate non-kosher food from the commissary as well.

In Tilmon v. Keith, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156512 (WD LA, Sept. 14, 2016), a Louisiana federal magistrate judge dismissed a Muslim inmate’s complaint that in 2012 he was unable to observe Eid ul Adha. However he was permitted to proceed with his claim that unwanted exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke and synthetic marijuana smoke interfered with his ability to pray.